Google recently presented the findings of its 2014 Traveler Study in a one hour webinar. Last week, we covered the data on travelers and video engagement, where it was found that online video is a big influencer on traveler inspiration, and that personal touches and storytelling are a key part of traveler engagement. The data covered a wide range of topics, including mobile behaviors, inspiration, travel research, mobile behaviors, the influence of TV and Video, and family travel. The webinar was hosted by Katy Galambos, Google’s Industry Analyst for Travel. This week, we’ve got the highlights with regards to travelers and brand loyalty.
OTAs and brand recognition
39% of leisure travelers and 45% of business travelers have used an OTA because “It’s a name I have heard of.” Over half of hotel bookers want to recognize a brand that they’re booking with. But, when in the research phase of travel, the vast majority of travelers are unsure as to which brand they want to choose.
Travelers are open to trying something new
Travelers across the board would switch to programs with better perks and easier paths to rewards. In an aggregate number of all categories of travelers surveyed, 88% of personal travelers, 93% of business travelers, and 92% of affluent travelers would switch loyalty programs for any of the reasons listed below (Please note, “any reason” means any of the reasons listed, not “for no reason at all”).
Business travelers are normally the most loyal, but loyalty is decreasing. 63% of business travelers are open to trying new loyalty programs if they provide a new, different, or unique experience. 45% of business travelers plan to research or use peer-to-peer sharing alternatives to traditional hotels within the next year.
The Key Takeaways:
1. Branding is still Important
Today’s travelers, especially up-and-coming Millennials are more averse to traditional advertising than ever before. But, it’s still important to get your brand’s name out there, as brand recognition is still important to travel planning and booking decisions. Evaluate your marketing campaigns and think about a targeted approach. How can you make this feel more like a story or a conversation about an experience, and less like a “ME ME ME” marketing blast?
Loyalty isn’t totally dead, but hoteliers will have to seriously re-think older programs if they want to keep their loyal customers. Almost all travelers surveyed are willing to switch to another brand’s loyalty or rewards program. Stay ahead of the competition by adapting to the expectations of the modern traveler.
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