Resources are endless for consumers planning a trip. They can compare prices, benefits, reward programs, and more before they book. There is a website for nearly everything they might want to research and they are available at their fingertips within every device they own:
Metasearches like Kayak, TripAdvisor Instant Booking, Google Hotel Finder, and Trivago help consumers compare deals and guide them to the best site to book.
Online travel agents like Expedia.com or Booking.com give customers negotiating power with independent hotel properties, and sometimes offer special deals not reflected on other sites. They also provide a robust reward program available throughout their entire inventory of properties worldwide.
Review websites like Trip Advisor and the Virtual Tourist provide past customer feedback, organized in different ways for travelers to draw their own conclusions on a property, location, or excursion. According to a recent study done by New York University and TrustYou, travelers read an average of 6-7 reviews prior to booking, and business travelers read an average of 5.
Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing provide results for the specific information travelers look for. Additionally, Google is testing a new app called Google Trip which according to Skift it “seems to combine itinerary management features, similar to TripIt or Worldmate, paired with city guide information such as that released in November in Google’s Destinations feature.”
Provider websites like hotels and airlines encourage travelers to go direct, and give an additional discount if they become a member of their loyalty program.
With all these options available at consumer’s fingertips, your should be present in as many places as possible and for the most occurrences as possible. According to the Travel Market Report on the Phocuswright Conference in November 2015, “consumers are spending more time visiting websites to plan their getaways — 38 different sites, on average — according to a new Traveler Attribution Study conducted by Expedia Media Solutions.”
38 sites before they make a buying decision?
Yes, you read that right.
Online presence in as many websites as possible within your potential client’s search increases awareness of your company and the probability of purchase. Which websites you use and during what phase during the purchasing path you appear is directly related to the budget you have available to target your audience. Optimize this budget to generate synergy between each channel and get global boost when you plan these correctly. Distribute your presence accordingly to create the strategy that will generate you the highest ROI. Create your own KPI dashboard to track these and determine which of the channels converts best for you.
Within Google’s “Think With Google” portal, there is a tool to help understand the customer’s purchasing path. It details all the channels consumers used during their research, which shows you how important it is to have the proper marketing mix within these channels to close that sale. Choose the appropriate variables that apply to your business and market and you will get a more accurate Google trend.
Notice within the Think with Google tool that the consumer’s purchasing stage determines the best channels to use. The closer to the purchase phase you use your budget, the more conversions you will have.
Once you have your strategy, you need to implement tracking of this strategy. There are many systems to be used to track your strategies and the attribution models that they use are all different. The online performance is directly related to the attribution model you implement. Each model determines the rules to be used to give credit for an online sale or conversion based on an assigned touchpoint within the purchasing path. Here Google explains more about the different attribution types here.
As if there weren’t enough to keep track of within your customer’s purchasing path, factor in the fact that 60% of consumers switch between devices, according to the Expedia Media Solutions Traveler Attribution Study presented at Phocuswright 2015. How do you keep track of your prospects when they have a mobile, tablet and their work and personal computer? There are tools for cros-device tracking that we won’t get into analyzing now and definitely something needed in this day in age.
According to Tnooz, which quoted a Phocuswright research study,
- 41% of travelers research travel using mobile devices
- 55% of travelers prefer to book using a desktop or laptop even if they research using mobile.
- 25-34 year olds are the most mobile-heavy, comprising 38% of total users booking on mobile.
ComScore published a study where the majority of consumers are “multiscreening”, accessing retail sites on mobile or desktop, so consistent experiences across devices need to be accomplished . SmartInsights shows the slide here:
To better understand customer behavior, always refer to your website statistics to create the best KPIs that will help you reach your goal.
In conclusion, according to the resources presented above, for your business to be successful it should be present in as many websites as possible that contribute to the customer booking path. Expedia claims that their travelers access 38 sites before they make a decision. Every industry is different, but you need to be aware of where your customers are, what they are searching, and which sites make the most sense for you to have a presence on.