A new study by Adara (a travel industry leader in big data) and Hudson Crossing travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt shows that today’s American leisure traveler is younger, more smartphone savvy and less loyal to brands. The report, titled Who’s Sleeping With You? A Detailed Look Into the US Online Hotel Guest, explores the profiles and behaviors of US travelers who research and book hotels online. It’s based on a three-month analysis of over 1 billion travel transactions processed by Adara each month, Hudson Crossing’s proprietary research and data provided by 60 leading travel companies around the world. According to the report, 123.3 million travelers researched hotels online this year and 92% of those made bookings online.
Key findings show that US leisure travelers who book hotels online are:
- Younger. The average age of a US leisure hotel guest is 42. However, the largest proportion of guests (33%) is in Generation Y (aged 24-36).
- Less loyal to brands. Only two in five hotel guests feel loyal to any travel brand. Furthermore, hotel loyalty program members shop around extensively before booking.
- Smartphone savvy. Two in three hotel guests have a smartphone and 44% own a tablet device. Given a choice between taking their spouse, partner, best friend or smartphone on a trip, one in four hotel guests would choose their smartphone! Guests are very interested in researching and booking hotels with their smartphones and tablets.
- Connected. More than 9 in 10 travelers under the age of 35 have social media accounts.
- Informed. Online hotel shoppers, whether shopping on hotel websites directly or OTAs (online travel agencies), shop around extensively before choosing where to stay.
- Quick to act. 79% of travelers shopping hotel websites directly and 67% of travelers shopping OTAs go from searching to booking in the same day.
- Likely to book further in advance on your website than OTAs. OTAs are an effective way to reach “last-minute” travelers. Guests booking directly on hotel websites tend to do so 25 days in advance, while those booking on OTAs do so just 10 days in advance.
So what does all this mean? These trends indicate that hotels are competing for customers that are more demographically fragmented, digitally connected, and bent on finding the best (i.e. most relevant) deal. “Understanding the guest on every level possible isn’t a ‘nice to have’ for hotels — it is a key strategic priority,” the report points out. You need to know your customers and their shopping and booking habits in order to hone marketing and remarketing tactics to convert “free agents” into loyal guests.
Mobile technology is the most important emerging channel in travel, and “has created an expectation among consumers that they can, should and will be continuously connected to the people and businesses that matter to them.” It is imperative that hotels harness mobile technology and social media platforms to connect and engage with their customers as part of a coordinated marketing campaign.
Read the full report here.