Hoteliers need to create conversations with online consumers
April 17, 2007：“Empower consumers to organize content themselves, and create conversations with consumers,” urged Philip Wolf, founder, president and CEO of PhoCusWright, Inc.
“Consumers have changed from just searching for the lowest price to finding the best experience,” said Wolf in his keynote address. He stated the Travel 2.0 five tenants are:
- Complete transparency – code for truth;
- Peer collaboration – a way to personalize experience for customers;
- Basic, time-honored things have become much easier – nothing new about getting recommendations from friends, keeping scrapbooks, etc.;
- Factor predictive information into info queries and responses – most subtle, elusive;
- Speed – gather and assimilate information fast.
He explained that Travel 1.0 was a movement driven by price, and price alone, which drove online adoption. “Travel 2.0 has put price on par with other significant factors.”
Wolf stated that users are taking charge. In this real-time world, social sharing sites are on the rise, not just something you do trivially. “It is absolutely the most exciting time in travel since the rise of the Internet, and if you don’t understand why MySpace went from last to first in Internet traffic, you couldn’t be a good enough strategist for your company.”
Wolf advised attendees:
- Embrace the sum of your niches;
- The size of your reputation matters more than the size of your marketing budget;
- A good product can cut through the fog;
- Customer experience and message should be in sync.
In the realm of 2.0 technology, Wolf recommended, “Empower customers and get to one individual one at a time…you can’t do this without 2.0, where virtual becomes reality.”
“In a presentation on “The Travel Consideration Process Study: What Consumers Do Before They Book,” Yahoo!’s King discussed findings from Yahoo! Search Marketing’s in-depth look at what travelers do on the Web before buying from an OTA or a supplier for its recently-completed Travel Consideration Process Study.
Among the findings:
- Travelers on average visit travel sites 35 times over 90 days before they book. The bulk of pre-travel research starts early; nearly half of research takes place more than one month before they book, and consumers actively engage in the week leading up to booking.
-Consumers actively turn to search before buying travel; a lot of value is happening well before booking. An average of 10 travel queries occur before purchase.
-Destination search activity is critical; it’s all about the long tail, being creative to give customers what they want. Destination terms are used earlier in the shopping process and offer the most potential to connect with travel bookers. Consumers don’t always know what they want and it’s a great opportunity to introduce your brand.
-Online hotel bookers are active comparison shoppers.
The agenda also featured roundtable discussions highlighting:
- Visitor Satisfaction
- Content Management – Consumer and Supplier
- Group Booking Online
- Affiliate Marketing
To close the program, findings from the latest iPerceptions and HSMAI “Voice of the Customer” report on leisure travelers in mid-scale hotels were released. This unique quarterly Web metrics report includes experience and satisfaction benchmarks for the growing online marketplace in the hospitality industry.