A big number

A big number

Be careful when making decisions about how to invest your limited dollars on booking channels. Do not get too caught up in the results channels are “producing.” Hoteliers have been very focused on understanding and investing in the channels that book the most room nights online, with the primary focus being a hotel’s own website. For most hotels, a majority of online conversions will come through that channel, especially when compared with conversions through a Facebook booking engine or a mobile booking engine. But production numbers don’t tell the whole story.  

As I wrote in a previous post, there is a lot of new data detailing a current phenomenon called the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Embraced by Google, ZMOT essentially states consumers are spending a tremendous amount of time researching options through various sources before making a decision. By the time they are ready to make a purchase, most consumers have visited dozens of sites via computer as well as mobile and tablet devices. They have read reviews, looked at videos and engaged with other consumers through social media channels. But when the research is done, they tend to migrate back to their computers to book their reservations. So mobile may actually account for only 0.5% of reservations made. With that kind of “production,” you might be inclined to dismiss mobile out of hand. Hotels looking only at the largest numbers from traditional channels are missing the big picture: Consumers are being influenced on channels that may not show strong production numbers.  

Now to the “Big Number”: 51% of business travelers use mobile devices to get travel information — more than double the rate of two years ago. When reviewing production data, we all know that the percentage of reservations coming through a mobile site are miniscule compared to a hotel website. But, hotels that decide to invest only in the highest-producing channels are ignoring key opportunities to influence the traveler.  

The data coming from various sources clearly shows that a brand must speak to customers throughout their research process. The fact that 51% of business travelers are using their mobile device to find travel information should be proof enough that an investment in a mobile website and mobile search marketing strategy is paramount. The same logic holds true when considering investment in social media campaigns. The digital environment is an extremely complex ecosystem — one that can’t be easily quantified through simple metrics. However, we can study consumer behavior and employ smart tactics accordingly.