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22 Feb, 2012

Hotel Booking Channel Study: Hotel Websites, Third Party Sites Ranked Highest


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the market research and consultancy firm HawkPartners, LLC released results from its 2012 Hotel Channel Usage Study, based on survey data from over 1,200 business and leisure travelers, which provides insight into how hotel marketing executives can most effectively reach specific customer segments.

The proliferation of marketing channels presents both new opportunities and challenges for hotel marketing executives. Hotel marketers need to better understand how different marketing channels engage and deepen relationships with customers, and which channels drive revenue most effectively. This study identifies which specific channels:

  • Are most important for driving hotel evaluation, selection and booking.
  • Drive top-of-mind recall, intent to stay again and likelihood to recommend.
  • Are best suited for branded communication with targeted customer segments.

“With so many options, today’s hotel marketers need to know which channels most impact a traveler’s decision-making process,” said Brooke Hempell, partner at HawkPartners and co-head of the firm’s Hospitality Practice. “The findings from this study help marketers develop integrated marketing strategies to leverage the right channels at the right time.”

Key takeaways:

Among those in any hotel loyalty program, hotel websites are the sources most relied on for researching and evaluating hotels, followed by loyalty program websites;

Among those not in any loyalty program, online travel websites – led by Expedia, Hotels.com, Travelocity, and Orbitz – are relied on most;

Online review sites – with TripAdvisor the clear leader – are also key to the evaluation and selection process. Word-of-mouth/personal recommendations also strongly influence selection, especially among those under 30;

Promotions and incentives are clear drivers of selection, but also drive brand recall and intent to recommend – far more than above-the-line brand advertising;

The single most important driver of a future booking is a positive prior experience–making guest service a key investment;

Loyalty programs are also cited as one of the most important reasons to book a particular hotel, especially for business travelers and luxury hotels.

“Knowing how to invest in owned media channels such as holidayinn.com, or our other brand sites, can be critical to the success of a guest’s booking experience,” said Del Ross, vice president, U.S. Sales & Marketing, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group). “It can have a tremendous impact on where the guest is going to book the next time they are looking for a hotel stay.”

Stacey Symonds, director, Consumer Insights at Orbitz Worldwide, added: “The travel marketplace continues to become more crowded with hotel suppliers, OTAs, travel research and meta search offering overlapping promotions, information and even pricing. It is now even more important that travel marketers provide a clear value proposition and brand differentiation to help consumers understand the ‘what’s in it for me?’ that leads to brand choice and preference.”

To learn more about the Hotel Channel Usage Study, please visit http://www.HawkPartners.com. Custom presentations of the study segmented by hotel tier, traveler type and demographic are also available.