This is the latest statistics on 2016 trends in traffic for travel. Organic search is strong, it is growing at the expense of paid adverting and hugely more now than referrals, which has taken a dive in 2016.
Hotels and Travel Accommodation see More Organic Traffic
Organic Search is the Top Source of Traffic for Hotels Accommodation: Is has jumped 19% from 21% to 25% in March 2016 from march 2015. Referrals are down 27% and Paid ads are plummet a whopping 70%.
Referral Traffic Down
Referral traffic is interesting, it is significantly down; the reason may be related to the fact tahat OTAs and TripAdvisor are pushing more onsite bookings and the billboard effect is note happing as much. It used to be that nearly every OTA shopper would look for the hotel but today that seems to be not happening as much. Perhaps they have grown accustomed to completing the shop on the OTA site.
TripAdvisor once a great source of referrals has almost dropped out of the business model wit their instant booking and links with booking.com. Also the new sharing economy models of AirBNB, VRBO, are negatively impacting the referral. (also see story on TripAdvisor).
The top 25 websites account for just over half (54%) of all traffic in the sector, although their combined traffic has decreased by 18% between March 2015 and March 2016.Tnooze has provided a good summary of the full report by Similarweb. You may also download the full report at the Similarweb link below.
The study covers all major sectors in travel from lodging to flight search and cruising. In also looks at distribution with latest stats on Online Travel Agents (OTAs), mobile and Review Sites.
Steve Dunne, executive chairman of BrighterPR, says it is a watershed moment in tourism: “This year’s emergence of pure online brands moving into television marks a watershed moment in travel marketing.
TV Advertising Builds Credibility
“If you are on TV, you are a credible brand. The power of TV has never gone away; we have just got distracted by the internet over the past 10 years. says Dean Harvey, director at Designate advertising agency. He also commented that “digital brands had reached saturation point online. For the big online guys, it’s exponentially more expensive if someone finds you through a generic holiday term on Google than on a brand search, It could be £5 a click versus 20p.” So even though MGM and others are aligning more with digital video media like Tubi, broadcast TV is by no means dead. In fact it may be the big differentiation in the future as the digital world become more saturated.
The truth is that although digital media is flourishing “The power of TV has never gone away and being on TV creates great credibility for the brand. Television has been the domain medium for major brands and the travel adverting on TV are ta proven formula.
Threat to Established Brands
“Now, online players are injecting a new energy into the holiday proposition. They must move into the mainstream arena if they are to grow awareness and gain that all-important trust” said Dunne. “This presents a clear and present threat, and could erode the reputational advantage mainstream players have enjoyed in the past.”
A spokesman for Kayak said that Kayak had not previously invested significantly in UK TV media, but TV is now the “heavyweight and we have invested in a heavyweight multi-touchpoint launch for the UK,” he said. “We’ve started as we mean to go on.” Any TV campaign has stand out as Booking.com has done. It is a hard act to follow but one that seems inevitable for big brand travel marketing in 2106.
Growing Powerhouse of Creative Digital Media
The unexpected and unprecedented burst of agents TV advertising in 2016 Threatens Established Brands and may well shake up the industry but te competition on TV is really between the bigger brands mostly the established OTAs and chains seeing their initiatives being overtaken by smaller online agents. However, there are increasing opportunities for smaller travel companies.
Digital Video: Cost-effective & Innovative
On YouTube, the big travel brands often re-use their TV ads, but smaller hospitality brands you can create short video ads that are five to 10-seconds. Even 60 second video and longer that can be very cost-effective on YouTube and other video channels. One such innovation is the new http://YouTube.HolidayHotel.Reviews channel, a independent TV like media providing cost effective review review ads for hotel, tourism brands and destinations. The video ads are promoted on social media and in other digital formats. The reviews network even includes an online magazineand utilizes the new personality profiling technology that matches travelers with hotels of like character creating holidays that are very personalized. This technology was pioneered by holidays.barabados.org who are also making it available to other destination and hotel and tourism groups.
Travel Websites Become Multi-Channel Media With TV like quality
The newer travel website are becoming more TV like in the way they use video and story telling. Airbnb pioneered using full broadcast quality TV like Videos on the home age. The latest destination entry is Holidays.Barbados.org, which uses original high quality motion picture on its home page. Even small hotels are doing this, as in the case of the Saint Lucia Apartment Villa Resort at Poinsettia in the Caribbean Islands of St. lucia.
Source: Expedia’s HomeAway acquisition takes booking competition up a notch – Mobile Commerce Daily – Strategy
The acquisition blocks Priceline, from doing the same and makes it difficult to now get that kind of leverage in mobile presence that Home Aaway has. Thom Jordan, CEO of Ping Mobile, New York adds “Without HomeAway, Priceline is at a severe disadvantage against Expedia and Airbnb in the vacation property market. Until the acquisition of HomeAway by Expedia is complete, I would not be surprised if Priceline makes a counter-offer in an attempt to outbid Expedia.”
Expedia is expecting the deal to be completed early in 2016 at a price tag at $3.9 billion. The move is on the heals of Expedia’s recent additions of Travelocity and Orbitz, not only consolidate Expedia market position in the hospitality sector, it also puts the travel conglomerate in top position in the mobile booking sector, which is growing rapidly.
The fast growing mobile segment which sees more and more travellers booking flights, accommodations and activities via their smartphones is a lucrative and massive sector for the Online travel Agents and this move put Expedia in an enviable position. It is especially so as HomeAway had recently acquired Dwellable, a mobile-first vacation rental search engine.
Dwellable Mobile a Reason to Buy
Earlier in 2015, Dwellable launched its new mobile app with a innovative user interface that offered a swipe-and-sort user experience (UX) similar to the Tinder dating app. “The design replaced the industry’s standard “results list” with a card-swiping feature that it argues is more intuitive on a mobile device. Its calendar for comparing vacancies for more than one rental was also innovative. HomeAway will likely adopt some of these UX perks as it brings on board six team members from Dwellable.” SeeTtnooze for details >>>
The Gloves are off and it’s Pricelines Turn to Counter Punch.
This is not going to sit well with Priceline and Booking.com and one wonders if they will counter offer. Is the $3.9 Billion dollar price a bit steep – and would they offer the same autonomy that Expedia says it will give Homeaway. (Expedia says it will not merge HomeAway under its umbrella of travel brands, and is planning to let the HomeAway management team manage itself almost autonomously out of its Texas base). It Looks to me like it is a done deal. Maybe Priceline should Buy AirBNB, now that would be a knockout!
The travel industry is now full into the digital age which has diminished the role of the old school travel agent and brought in a host of alternatives, including the news shared accommodations with the likes of Airbnb.
But more is to come and with the growth of mobile travel and bookings the new channels are also changing. Travelers do increasingly use online travel sites to search for hotels, flights, but according to Phocuswright the online travel agencies, (OTAs) accounted for only 16% of travel gross bookings in the U.S. in 2014. The rest in made up by travelers who may look at OTAs but book at supplier websites, travel management companies, by phone or walk-ins at suppliers, such as hotels and airlines and now Googles own Bookings via HotelFinder.
Majel Reyes shows the Havana apartment she renovated to rent via shared-space sites like Airbnb and HomeAway. The segment is a fast-rising competitor… View Enlarged Image
Travelers, says Phocuswright, may research hotels and activities on OTA sites, but don’t necessarily book trips there.”There are many ways to book travel,” said Douglas Quinby, VP of research at Phocuswright. ” and OTAs, while huge are only a part of the picture.
This Phocuswright study shows that OTAs, while important, are not the entire industry. Nevertheless the power of the Big OTAs cannot be dismissed. While OTAs Account for Only 16% of USA Travel Market, the battle for top place is fierce. Expedia (including Orbitz) had $8.59 billion in revenue in 2014. Priceline generated $8.44 billion. Together they account for 74% of the OTA travel share in the US. That cant be ignored as hotels and tourism marketers have learned, even as they try to increase their share of direct bookings.
A recent study sponsored by the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Consumer Innovation Forum, suggests the “billboard effect” for hotels listed on online travel agency (OTA) websites may no longer exist.”
Now this flies in the face of all we have been saying over the past few years and what we recently published regarding Millennials who seem to prefer the Do-it-Yourself approach and favour booking at hotel sites.
There are several factors at play here!
1. It matters who you survey and different demographics have different behaviour.
2. It matters who did the survey or who sponsored it. In the past theses surveys were sponsored mainly by the OTAs and they had a vested interested in showing hotels that it paid to list with their site as a lot of people would book direct at the hotel site after checking option on the OTA listing. This latest study was sponsored by the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Consumer Innovation Forum, who tend to be ” leery of the large commissions they pay to intermediaries.”
3. It matters which sites you are surveying. Many srudies have looked at the large chains and not the small hotels. The results may be very different for the small independents who can most benefit from the authority given it by listing on the OTA with the more well known chains. We can expect a better bill board effect for the smaller hotels.
So what can we deduce with all of these conflicting results and interests. The fine print of the latest study is perhaps more interesting to many than the summary results.
From 2012 and 2014, the number of people who exclusively visit the surveyed major chain hotel sites “has come down from 12% to 10%. Whereas people who visit exclusively intermediary sites have gone up from 48% to 60%. People who go to both types of sites have dropped from 40% to 30%.”
Overall the stats from the latest study do not look good for direct bookings. The Best news is that the conversion rate has gone up. Several years ago 2.5% of site visitors booked but in this study we see that form “2012 and 2014, the number has increased for hotel chains from 7.9% to 10.8%. The number for intermediaries has dropped from 7.7% to 6%.”
Mature markets look good for hotel direct booking with XYZ Generations
In all its not great news for hotels but remember this is a study of chain hotel and is not likely to reflect the rapid rise of the Millennials and theXYZ Generation who are more D0-it-Yourself and prefer to book at hotel sites. As the market matures we have two conflicting trends- On the one had OTAS have positioned themselves as the place to get the beast deals. On the other many travellers like to book direct and hotels can take control of their pricing and rates. With the latest moves in Rate Parity the future looks good for hotelleries who take the initiative and take control of marketing.
In Face of this we must ask is it True that The OTA Billboard Effect is Dying, or is it just a segment of the market.
Point of View by Ian R Clayton – Follow on twitter @irclay
Sean O’Neill is the Editor-in-Chief of Tnooz and is based in southern New Jersey, in the US.
“Drawing on insights from senior executives at brands that include Virgin Atlantic, Novotel/Accor, Generator Hostels, Triptease and Hostelworld.com, as well EyeforTravel’s comprehensive digital library, The latest report into customer behavior re direct business offers these findings.
“- 57% of customers use an OTA to research travel and 52% then go on to visit brand.com
– 92% of executives reported an increase in conversions when personalisation was used in search engine marketing and 95% saw increases in sales offline
– 22% of consumers are still influenced by search engine optimisation because this first click is where the travel purchase starts
– 55% of customers are willing to have hotels interact with them during their trip, primarily via email
– 30 % are happy to receive mobile notifications
– 82% of travellers are swayed by discounts (offers 76%; upgrades 73%)
– 80.54% of consumers would find offers relevant to their current location useful
– 77.92% of consumers would like an email reminder for a previously looked at holiday if it falls in price”
Hotel Finder was launched in 2011 and we have seen many upgrades since- The last video we did showed Google becoming more hotel friendly. Now it is looking like just another OTA.
Here is a picture of the new interface:
is hotel finder just another ota
Here is our previous 2015 video on Hotel Finder
In our previous MarkHat.com Update on Hotel Finder, we looked at the inevitable changes in advertising that underlie this move by Google. But adding bookings to hotels finder brings Google into direct competition with its largest customers, the OTAs. Get the details here >>>. The question we ask is that knowing current CPC ads are not the future for advertising is changing into an OTA the right strategy for search?