I just recently got back from EyeforTravel’s Social Media & Mobile Strategies conference in San Francisco last week, armed with all sorts of good insights for hotel marketers. I’ll break this down by subject so you know what to expect in 2013 by topic. You can explore a raw feed of great stats that were shared during the conference on Twitter using hash tag #SMTravel13 and #MTravel13.
During the question and answer segments, attendees showed great interest in tablets and how to market to tablet audiences differently from mobile audiences. Many speakers noted the different behaviors between mobile guests and tablet guests, and admitted that a unique tablet presence is needed to market effectively.
— Dave Le (@DLEtravels) March 18, 2013
- Tablets generate 200% more room nights & more than 430% more revenue than mobile devices (smartphones and feature phones). – Reference
- iPad users constitute 96% of bookings and 98% of revenue from tablets. – Reference
- iPad searches will increase 68% in 2013. – Reference
- In 2013, hotel related travel inquiries will rise on tablets by 180%, on mobile by 68%, and only decrease on desktop PCs by -4%. – Reference
The ‘mobile revolution’ is being embraced by hoteliers (if just a tad late to the game). The value of mobile optimization is apparent. Today, US smartphone penetration has passed 50%, and both mobile search and traffic from mobile apps are growing (though mobile search is larger).
— Revinate(@revinate) March 18, 2013
- 47% of guests start planning travel from a mobile device. Reference
- Online travel agencies report that 10-20% of all bookings are already being made from mobile devices. Reference
- 19% of smartphone owners make purchases on them.
- 79% of guests want to check in and out of hotels from mobile devices. Reference
- Marriott reports that their same-day bookings are 38% mobile.
- $25.8 billion worth of bookings will be made from mobile devices in 2014. Reference That’s 18% of global travel revenue, which is up by 6% from 2012.
- From a mobile optimized website or app, 20% of those who click on ‘store location’ button (and, by extension, click on getting directions to a hotel) will book a room.
There was consensus that mobile apps for hotels are a waste of time and money, as most guests simply use mobile search engines to find hotel information. The divergence from this view is where hotel members are concerned. Frequent hotel visitors, and guests who are part of a hotel’s membership or loyalty rewards program, tend to use mobile apps in preference to search. Many of these stats were provided by Marriott and Gogobot.
— Vicky Hastings (@vickyhastings) March 18, 2013
— John T. Peters (@johntpeters) March 18, 2013
- 73% of hotel loyalty members use hotel mobile apps.
- 93% of non-members use mobile search engines instead.
Guest reviews were a huge concern to attendees, because guest reviews have become the number one influencer towards the reservation decision. Hoteliers are scrambling to claim their properties on various directories like Yelp and TripAdvisor, and to interact with guests, particularly those who leave potentially damaging negative reviews.
- 98% of properties say that online reviews are important for driving bookings, making reviews one of the most trusted sources for hotel information. Reference – Another reference
- One of the top priorities for hotel marketers is to respond to reviews—especially bad ones. Responding to reviews correlates to more bookings. Reference
- Star ratings and poor reviews go into a guest’s decision making, but nothing is as harmful to a property as having no reviews at all. Reference
- Reviews found directly in a hotel’s website increase bookings. Reference
While there is some doubt in the industry that Facebook can be harnessed to produce quality repeat bookings, much talk focused on pivoting away from seeing Facebook as a guest acquisition engine, and more as an engagement tool to turn previous guests into return guests and brand ambassadors. There are other benefits of a robust Facebook presence, including the trust given to hotels that have a strong social community.
- 42% of Facebook users have conversations with brands on Facebook. Reference
- Facebook should be used as a point of sale, but to drive traffic to your point of sale – your website. Reference
- 25% of travelers began the ‘dreaming’ phase of travel after having seen friends’ travel photos on Facebook. Reference
Guests who use Twitter, love Twitter. More than any other social network, Twitter users are more likely to interact with brands, and make purchase decisions based on that interaction. Like Facebook, guests don’t make actual reservations from Twitter, but it is a useful tool for establishing relationships and directing guests to your conversion engine (website).
- 84% of guests on Twitter read tweets by brands they follow.
- 50% of guests are more likely to book a room from hotel brands they follow. Reference
- 23% of guests tweet about hotel brands they follow.
As a social network, Google+ is slowly growing, but is not yet seeing the kind of interaction that Facebook and Twitter see. Still, the power of Google+ is in its implications concerning search. Verifying your hotel’s online identity can give your hotel website a search engine boost. For more on Google+ for hotels, download our comprehensive eBook.
25% of Internet users from 17 different countries use Google+ at least once a month, and travelers trust Google+ more than other social networks–second only to Facebook. Reference
Hotel marketers that install social annotations (including publisher and authorship markup, which we cover in depth here) see on average between 5-10% uplift in Google search engine results. Reference