Conference Featured Online Behavior and
VA (April 13, 2007) – “Empower consumers to organize content themselves,
and create conversations with consumers,” urged Philip Wolf, founder, president
and CEO of PhoCusWright, Inc. in his opening address on “Travel 2.0 Confronts
the Establishment” at the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association
International’s (HSMAI) 8th Travel Internet Marketing Strategy Conference,
which took place in Las Vegas.
Featuring a “state of the Internet marketing landscape,” the event,
attended by more than 200 industry professionals, featured industry experts
and Internet marketing specialists debating online behavior and travel
search. Held recently at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in
Las Vegas, HSMAI partnered with the Travel Industry Association (TIA) as
the conference was presented in conjunction with TIA’s TravelCom.
“This is such an exciting time in Internet Marketing, and these strategy
conferences are designed to present the latest trends and tactics available
to marketers today, as well as to look at what’s on the horizon,” states
Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president & CEO of HSMAI.
“Consumers have changed from just searching for the lowest price to
finding the best experience,” said Wolf in his keynote address. He
stated the Travel 2.0 five tenants are:
He explained that Travel 1.0 was a movement driven by price, and price
alone, which drove online adoption. “Travel 2.0 has put price on
par with other significant factors.”
Complete transparency – code for truth;
Peer collaboration – a way to personalize experience for customers;
Basic, time-honored things have become much easier – nothing new about
getting recommendations from friends, keeping scrapbooks, etc.;
Factor predictive information into info queries and responses – most subtle,
Speed – gather and assimilate information fast.
Wolf stated that users are taking charge. In this real-time world,
social sharing sites are on the rise, not just something you do trivially.
“It is absolutely the most exciting time in travel since the rise of the
Internet, and if you don’t understand why MySpace went from last to first
in Internet traffic, you couldn’t be a good enough strategist for your
In the new “long tail scenario,” Wolf advised attendees:
In the realm of 2.0 technology, Wolf recommended, “Empower customers and
get to one individual one at a time…you can’t do this without 2.0, where
virtual becomes reality.”
Embrace the sum of your niches;
The size of your reputation matters more than the size of your marketing
A good product can cut through the fog;
Customer experience and message should be in sync.
To further the discussion, Wolf participated in a one-on-one interview
with Dr. Daniel Connolly, assistant professor, with a joint appointment
in the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management and the Department
of Information Technology and Electronic Commerce, in the Daniels College
of Business, at the University of Denver. The Q&A session revealed:
Who is making money using Web 2.0? You can’t use
ROI to make decisions on utilizing 2.0, but need to do testing, slowly
and constantly change.
Do today’s 2.0 consumers have the discretionary income to spend?
They will have the income one day, and it’s too expensive to put things
With limited resources, where do you start to prove success?
Look at skill sets of employees verses what your needs are to make sure
you can do what you need. Do a “critical needs” assessment of human
resources and use a small group to experiment.
Should companies put consumer generated content on their home pages?
You need to know what’s going on outside your world. Embracing user-generated
content should be part of your strategy.
A Travel Search Panel, moderated by Wolf, with panelists from Google,
Yahoo! and MSN search engines discussed the realities of search marketing
and the implications on the hospitality industry.
Brad King, senior director, travel category, Yahoo!, Inc., noted advancements
based on how people use the Web: consumers focused on content make search
more relevant; improved relevance will come from searching within your
own network. “He said, “people will find better ways to use your
products if you open them up.”
James Colburn, group marketing manager, adCenter Communications Group
Microsoft, focused on how to get sites visible to engines, such as well-formed
HTML codes, allowing search engines to crawl your site and understanding
the qualities search engines are looking for before you build your site.
Carrie Davis Fabris, senior account executive, Travel, Google, Inc.,
suggested submitting site map feeds, analyzing keyword buys to make sure
you maximize your spending, beta testing different cost models, and looking
at cost per action and cost per acquisition.
King said to be more proactive in paid inclusion by creating a data
feed with keywords, URLs, etc., and he suggested putting your search money
toward your brand first – the lowest hanging fruit and cheapest clicks
– and then expand out into the tail beyond the top 500 travel words while
being creative with niche terms.
Discussing key metrics for hoteliers, Colburn noted that the cost of
acquisition is important, but indirect conversions are also important –
people who return a while after the first click.
“In a presentation on “The Travel Consideration Process Study: What
Consumers Do Before They Book,” Yahoo!’s King discussed findings from Yahoo!
Search Marketing’s in-depth look at what travelers do on the Web before
buying from an OTA or a supplier for its recently-completed Travel Consideration
Among the findings:
To close the program, findings from the latest iPerceptions and HSMAI “Voice
of the Customer” report on leisure travelers in mid-scale hotels were released.
This unique quarterly Web metrics report includes experience and satisfaction
benchmarks for the growing online marketplace in the hospitality industry.
Travelers on average visit travel sites 35 times over 90 days before
they book. The bulk of pre-travel research starts early; nearly
half of research takes place more than one month before they book, and
consumers actively engage in the week leading up to booking.
Consumers actively turn to search before buying travel; a lot of
value is happening well before booking. An average of 10 travel queries
occur before purchase.
Destination search activity is critical; it’s all about the long
tail, being creative to give customers what they want. Destination
terms are used earlier in the shopping process and offer the most potential
to connect with travel bookers. Consumers don’t always know what
they want and it’s a great opportunity to introduce your brand.
Online hotel bookers are active comparison shoppers.
Conference partners were American Express, SECURE-RES, iPerceptions,
ResortsandLodges.com, The Map Network, Pin Point Media, Real Magnet, Travelscream.com
and VRX Studios. For future partnership opportunities, contact Melanie
Penoyar, HSMAI’s director of development at 703-245-8037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HSMAI is an organization of sales and marketing professionals representing
all segments of the hospitality industry. With a strong focus on
education, HSMAI has become the industry champion in identifying and communicating
trends in the hospitality industry, and bringing together customers and
members at annual events, including HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings®.
Founded in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising
more than 7,000 members worldwide, with 39 chapters in the Americas Region.