Online Booking Trends

When online travel agencies (OTAs) and other third-party booking channels empowered past guests to judge their stay experiences with a star rating, hoteliers had to pay attention. Then guests shared photos and wrote reviews, and hoteliers had to get involved. This evolution has, in turn, shifted the way we do business by changing the paradigm from hotels controlling the message to the consumers controlling the dialogue. This dialogue can ultimately decide the success of a hotel. So, as a hotelier, what can you do? Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and follow the emerging best practices as much as you can.

What TripAdvisor Knows About Your Guests

Let’s take a look at the newest findings that PhocusWright completed as an independent study on behalf of TripAdvisor in 2015. They reported:

  • 86% of TripAdvisor users would recommend TripAdvisor to others for trip planning
  • 84% of users consider reviews “extremely” or “highly” important when booking a hotel
  • 63% percent of respondents prefer one location where they can read reviews, compare prices, and make their reservations

You probably can see that this is not new information, but the percentages keep getting higher and higher year over year. One data point stood out to me: 63% of the respondent prefer ONE LOCATION where they can read, compare and make their reservations. This growing contingent has pushed many brands to post guest reviews on their own websites in hope of keeping their loyal customers from booking on other channels.

The study also uncovered more booking behavior by looking at the top-performing hotels, noting:

  • More page views: Hotels with higher engagement receive nearly four times more page views, meaning you should be highly engaged on their platform on a daily basis
  • Higher market visibility: The average popularity ranking for highly engaged hotels was 63% higher than their non-engaged counterparts, meaning these hotels are seen by two of every three travelers searching that market
  • More revenue: The study revealed that highly engaged hotels see 30 to 40% more travelers booking their hotel rooms

We have assumed that more customer postings about their experiences equals better ratings (just like brand guest satisfaction surveys). TripAdvisor confirmed the assumption, noting “The quantity and frequency of your TripAdvisor reviews influences your TripAdvisor Popularity Index ranking — in part because the more reviews your property has, the more the good reviews will outweigh the bad.”

For TripAdvisor, recent reviews carry more weight in your ranking; older reviews have less impact over time. This requires that you must make sure to keep encouraging guests to share their feedback online on an ongoing basis. Even more important, age of reviews now plays a larger role in consumer decision making, with 44% of consumers preferring to read a review that was written within 1 month.

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