Posted by Jeff Adelson-Yan (@jeffadelsonyan)
The web continues to be the single most important tool for not only travel planners, but travel and destination marketers and if you fall into the latter category, carefully consider the following 6 statistics…
How should you best leveraging this dominating medium to win new customers and lure new travelers to your locale:
1) 85% of travel planners use the web for researching and booking travel (up 5% over 2009).
If you are a travel or destination marketer and your business, marketing, and media strategies don’t center on the web, stop here and do nothing else until this is corrected. Businesses that operate in this industry that don’t give a center seat at the table to the web won’t survive.
2) Search is the #1 travel planning tool used by leisure travelers.
If you think that Search is only important early in the travel planning process or just through the booking transaction, think again. Individuals are utilizing search before, during and after travel, doing research on the ground and no longer just relying on professionals and concierges to help with travel once at a destination.
3) The average person visits 22 websites over 9.5 sessions before booking travel.
If you are only focused on the big players like TripAdvisor, portals, or large online travel agencies, you’re missing a crucial opportunity to reach in-market travel planners. Consider broadening your marketing approach by making audience-based targeting media buys. Behavior, Contextual and Re-Targeted (site and search) media buys offer cost-effective reach across a breadth of websites.
4) 1,200%: The increase over 2009 in travel searches conducted from a mobile device.
While it’s been said each year for the past 3 years, now (really) is the year for mobile. Are your websites and campaigns optimized for a mobile experience? Are you treating mobile search just like your desktop search campaigns? Mobile Search ≠ Desktop Search. Mobile searchers utilize shorter query strings and are looking for information and content utilizing the shortest amount of steps. Mobile search usage also spikes while travelers are on location.
5) 15%: The growth over 2009 in air and hotel bookings from mobile devices
As mentioned earlier, searching and booking continues even while travelers are actually traveling. The vast amount of, and ease of access to, web information is empowering travelers and giving them more flexibility. “Today, we are seeing a new pattern among travelers who opt to book same-day hotel accommodations” says Morgen McLaughlin, President, Finger Lakes Wine Country.
6) 41% of travelers read web-based reviews from other travelers
One of the most important and until now, often overlooked pieces of the puzzle, was traveler reviews. The research clearly shows that travelers are relying far more heavily, placing more credibility and importance on the advice given by real travelers than the advice rendered by professionals. This singularly presents the greatest opportunity and threat for destination marketers. Destination alumni are the best marketing advocate for recruiting new visitors. Give your alumni the opportunity and platform to sing your praises, share photos and videos, and share their experiences. An example of a destination marketer doing a good job in this area is Disney.
Source: Jake Fuller, Travelwise Research presented at thinktravel 2010