User-generated reviews are beginning to pay a significantly larger role in travelers’ decision processes, but hotels can still participate in the conversation by replying to positive and negative reviews.
The majority of bookers look through an average of 15 travel sites before booking and nearly 5 percent visit over 150 sites before booking a room on a hotel’s website, reports a study to be released by the Cornell School of Hotel Administration at the end of this week.
The study found that 75 percent of consumers will search through an online travel agency and 85 percent of consumers will look at a search engine before booking on branded hotel website (i.e.: IHG.com or Marriott.com). Of searches conducted through Google, Yahoo, or Bing, two-thirds are a targeted/branded search signifying that consumers have a specific company in mind prior to booking.
The number of travelers that perform numerous online searches prior to booking a hotel far outweigh those who skip the research phase. Approximately 65 percent of consumers will look at both OTAs and a general search engine, but only 10 percent will book directly on a branded hotel website without performing an preliminary searches.
A golden opportunity for hotels to show they care
Chris Anderson, a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, explains that this represents a marketing opportunity for hotels as most consumers will search and consider several hotel brands before booking. Traditional marketing departments might feel as though they’ve lost control, but the sharing community on these sites allow hotels to show off their dedication to customer service.
A recent TripAdvisor study supports this notion in its findings that 57 percent of its users are more likely to book a hotel and believe that a hotel cares more about its guests after seeing management respond to their reviews.