Travelers' Path To Purchase

Sojern and Google Team Up to Offer Hospitality Marketers a Holistic View of Travelers' Path to Purchase

The new joint Hotel Report highlights opportunities for hoteliers and other travel marketers to engage travelers at the right time, on the right device

Sojern

Sojern, travel's leading performance marketing engine, today released From Search Engine to Booking Engine: Sojern's 2017 Hotel Report. The project combines Google's deep insight into hospitality and hotel search trends with Sojern's unique data set of 350 million global traveler profiles, including billions of booking and search signals from data partnerships across the travel industry. The new research report offers a state-of-the-art view of the hotel consumer's extremely complex path-to-purchase.

Sojern's 2017 Hotel Report is a valuable tool for hotel marketers to understand the evolving journey a guest is likely to take while discovering, researching, and ultimately booking a stay. The report's insights offer guidance to help hoteliers better time their marketing programs and maximize bookings by reaching consumers when they are most receptive to a message.

"Travel audiences are incredibly savvy researchers and comparison-shoppers, sometimes visiting 30 or more websites, apps, and aggregators to research and book. When you account for the different devices being employed and overlay that with the multitude of channels visited throughout the path-to-purchase, the complexity for marketers increases exponentially," says Kurt Weinsheimer, Sojern's SVP of property solutions. 

"There are also important nuances to this when you slice by audience segment. For example, what we see is that while luxury hotels guests still predominantly completing bookings via desktop, mobile searches (including smartphones and tablets) are growing the fastest for this particular segment. We also see that luxury hotel travelers conduct 50% more searches overall compared to economy and mid-range segments. As we partner with hoteliers to help them increase bookings -- from global enterprise brands to independent properties -- these insights become key inputs to our secret sauce."

A few of the trends identified in the report:

Mobile is Now the Dominant Channel for Hotel Searches

Looking at device preferences for search, it's clear that mobile is now the primary mode with an over 53% share of US search volume. Interestingly, some audience segments have moved faster to adopt mobile search than others, notably the economy and midscale segments. 73% of all searches for the economy hotel segment are now taking place on a mobile device. Compare that with 62% for midscale hotels, 53% for upscale and 45% for luxury hotels. 

Mobile Search Is Growing Fastest for Luxury Hotels

For hotel brands in all segments, mobile queries are growing rapidly, but luxury brands are seeing more growth of shares of mobile queries compared to more economical market segments. During July - December 2016 compared to the same time period the year before, luxury hotels saw an increase of 23% in share of mobile searches, compared with 19% for upscale hotels and 14% for economy hotel brands. The lower growth rate of mobile searches for the latter is partially due to the fact that most searches for hotels in this segment are already happening on mobile.

Mobile Searches and Bookings Spike on Weekends

Desktop and mobile behaviors follow similar patterns throughout the work week, with weekends seeing a significant uptick in mobile searches (27-28%), and mobile bookings peaking at 14% on Sundays. 

When looking at mobile behaviors in the context of trip lead time, a notable difference arises between search and bookings. Sojern's data shows that a quarter of all hotel searches are conducted on mobile 30 days or more in advance of the trip, but only 11% of mobile bookings are done within that window, indicating a "leaky pipeline"—those mobile searches are not converting into mobile bookings. Hoteliers should be moving quickly to improve their mobile booking experience in order to capture this accelerating search volume.

Cuba and Europe Top the List of Fastest Rising Destinations Year-over-Year

Overall, Sojern and Google saw year-over-year growth in searches for hotels. Internationally, the opening of Cuba for US travelers has caused a flurry of searches to Havana and the beach town of Varadero. Thera (Santorini), Greece and Sodankylä, Finland have added new hotels and resorts recently, driving intent to these international destinations, and Lisbon, Portugal rounds up the top five fastest rising international destinations.

The top five fastest rising hotel destinations in the US include: Washington, D.C., Detroit, MI; Gatlinburg, TN; Ft. Washington, PA; and Colorado Springs, CO.

For a snapshot of findings, take a look at the infographic below. To learn more about traveler hotel search and booking trends, visit the interactive report. For a view of other Sojern/Google collaborations, read the Sojern blog.

Infographic - Hotel Online Bookings



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