Competitive Rates Power Online Conversions

by Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor | January 29, 2018

Seven trending hotel news stories that will have an impact on your hotel Revenue Strategy.

1. TO NO SURPRISE, RATE IS TOP DRIVER OF ONLINE CONVERSION

This deep and technical dive into the ins and outs of website conversion rates, i.e., the number of visits to a hotel's site that turn into bookings, generates three conclusions as to what ultimately constitutes success:

  • Competitive rates;
  • Trust generated through solid reviews;
  • Better service shown through rate flexibility or other benefits.

Full story at Fastbooking. 

2. ON GOOGLE, HOTEL BRANDS CONTINUE TO LOSE TO OTAS

The latest Google Hotel Finder report shows hotel brands in a generally losing battle with online travel agencies. When compared to top sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia and Kayak, major brand companies like Hilton and Marriott secure only 5% of comparable website traffic, 6% of unique email subscribers and 14% of unbranded Google search visibility.

And while the brand companies are fighting back through their direct-booking campaigns, the report says "smaller brands should rely on carefully curated search terms rather than broader terms to attract a core audience and stay afloat in the hospitality sector."

Full story at L2.

3. OTAS WILL BE MAJOR DISTRUPTORS TO HOTELS IN 2018

This review of hotel e-commerce and digital marketing trends for 2018 covers some familiar ground: mobile, voice search, artificial intelligence, content. Analyst Tim Peters quoted in the story also believes online travel agencies are destined to become even stronger disruptors to hotels this year.

He believes OTAs are using a variety of strategies to further push into the broad area of guest experience as a way to strengthen their hold on guest bookings. Thanks to the rise of mobile technologies and greater access to data, he believes OTAs have the ability to own the guests at every step in their journeys. A dire prediction, indeed. 

Full story at Hotel News Now.

4. WILL OTAS LAUNCH THEIR OWN HOTEL BRANDS?

It's a thin, but intriguing premise: In an effort to further disrupt the hotel industry, OTAs could in the future create their own hotel brands to compete one-to-one with the big brand companies. The author bases her analysis on some perhaps random, perhaps calculated remarks from a Kayak executive, who says OTAs might attempt to differentiate themselves by owning hotel assets — everything from floors of rooms to individual properties to entire chains.

Such a scenario would create further complications for revenue managers and hotel marketers, but the best operators — those steeped in the art and science of hospitality — would run circles around upstart OTA people who might know data and algorithms but don't have a clue about real service. Bring it on!

Full story at Skift.

5. TRAVELERS TURN TO GOOGLE SEARCH FOR INSPIRATION

Despite sophisticated and expensive marketing campaigns by hotel companies and OTAs, most travelers in the U.S. and Canada first turn to search engines when seeking travel inspiration, according to new research. The survey says 62% turn to search first, with OTA and travel review sites not far behind at 59% and 58% respectively.

Here's a wrinkle: When factoring in offline sources of influence, face-to-face conversations with friends and family is the top source of inspiration to travel followed by travel content sites and search. Another key data point: 51% of U.S. and Canadian travelers prefer to book their trips using OTAs, and most do so within three weeks of starting their research.

Full story at Phocuswire.

6. LEISURE TRAVEL ON RISE, AS IS DIRECT BOOKING

A new report reinforces what we already know: Consumers — and especially Americans — love vacations. Research from Euromonitor shows “vacation and leisure travel are the top spending priorities for most people, ahead of saving money or buying clothing, cars or home improvement items.”

The report further forecasts that leisure guests will increasingly book direct instead of through online travel agencies, and — perhaps most importantly — a diminishing potential for Airbnb to disrupt the hotel industry. I’m not so sure about that last one.

Full story at PhocusWire.

7. SEARCH ENGINE BING LAUNCHES HOTEL ADS PROGRAM

Search engine Bing has launched its Hotel Ads program that had been in beta testing through parts of last year. While Bing is a distant second to Google in search, the new program does give hoteliers another metasearch platform to attract bookers. Bing's Hotel Ads program has several key features:

  • Options to sort search results by “Best Match,” “Price” and “Rating”;
  • A TripAdvisor integration that displays number of reviews and TripAdvisor ranking to the user;
  • An interactive map fueled by Bing Maps that allows users to refine and customize their search.

Full story at Koddi. 

Stay up on hotel Revenue Strategy news and discuss industry tech trends in the Hotel Revenue Strategy Leaders Group on LinkedIn.

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Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor

Ed has been covering the hotel industry for more than 40 years. He was editor-in-chief of Lodging Hospitality from 1980 to 2012. He then joined Hotel News Now as an Editor at Large, until his retirement at the end of 2014. Ed still contributes to several publications and is a member of the advisory boards for the hotels schools at Michigan State and Penn State.

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