Skift Take

The hotels that understand digital the best are using their websites to claw back customers from booking websites in order to save money and gain greater control of their brands.

Every year L2 ThinkTank releases a report measuring the digital performance of travel brands. Its most recent digital IQ report ranks hotel brands on the effectiveness of their websites, the success of their digital marketing efforts, their website’s mobile functionality, and their social media presence.

It found that Best Western and Holiday Inn are the most digitally adept with extensive travel planning resources, integration of third-party sites like TripIt and TripAdvisor, engaged social media accounts, and online virtual tours. They were the only two brands to earn the “Genius” designation in L2’s digital IQ rankings. L2 noted that Best Western also sold additional services such as car rentals, flights, and tickets to local attraction.

Hotels’ branded websites aren’t battling with each other as much as they are competing against much savvier online booking websites and startups that better cater to travelers.

Travelers without loyalty to a certain brands turn to HotelTonight for same-day discounted bookings, read TripAdvisor reviews that click through to Expedia, and look to book hotels based on neighborhood. These are all features they’re not likely to find on the booking websites of U.S. hotels in the economy to upscale sector.

Hotel Brands Top 10

L2 ranks hotel brands with the best digital know-how in the economy to upscale sector as follows:

  1. Best Western
  2. Holiday Inn
  3. Crowne Plaza
  4. DoubleTree
  5. Holiday Inn Express
  6. Courtyard by Marriott
  7. Hampton
  8. Hilton Garden Inn
  9. Fairfiled
  10. Hotel Indigo

Room for Improvement

Direct online bookings via branded websites are projected to grow from 55 percent in 2010 to 59 percent in 2014.  But independent booking websites still captured 64 percent of mobile bookings — a perilous signs for hotels trying to wrestle back control of the online booking and pricing process.

According to L2, branded hotel sites have to do more to help potential guests find cheap rooms.

Eighty percent of business travelers and 90 percent of leisure travelers agree price is the most important factor when selecting a hotel. However, only half of the branded sites examined offer potential customers the ability to filter search results by price and deals.

Only 40 percent of branded hotel sites filter by date and 46 percent filter by location.

No wonder travelers are turning to online booking websites like Expedia and Priceline where it is easier to access the search tools they seek.

Neighborhood Matters

The report also noted that branded sites lack any contextual information for tourists looking to book a hotel near certain neighborhoods or attractions.

“Hotels place significant emphasis on the booking process, but lack a holistic understand of the consumer’s digital journey before and after booking,” says Sebastian Jespersen, chief executive at digital ad agency Vertic.

Although 38 percent of hotel sites include an interactive list of local attractions on property pages, only 17 percent of branded booking sites let guests search a map of areas of interest in relation to the hotel.

If brands want to capture a larger part of the travel market, they need to add more of the tools that users are currently finding on alternative sites like Airbnb and Hipmunk.

L2 released the following video on the report’s finding:


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Tags: booking, travel apps

Photo credit: Best Western's digital tools incorporate extensive travel planning resources, integration of third-party sites like TripIt and TripAdvisor, and engaged social media accounts. PlaceIt by Breezi

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