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Understanding Online Travel Shoppers:
How Smart Hoteliers are Engaging Today’s Travelers and Driving More Bookings

 

Do you want online travel shoppers to recognize what’s special about your hotel?
Then you’ll need to know what’s special about them.

By John McAuliffe, Chief Marketing Officer, VFM Leonardo, Inc.

In a travel market overflowing with options and offers, hoteliers often find it very difficult to differentiate their properties and clarify the unique value they provide. Indeed, it’s extremely challenging to cut through the online clutter and boost bookings in this economic climate when you don’t fully understand the travel shoppers you are targeting.
 
Here’s what hotel marketers need to recognize and capitalize on:
  • Travel shoppers are individuals with a multiplicity of needs, preferences and priorities.
  • Travel shoppers are hungry for more hotel information and often are frustrated by the bland marketing messages they find when researching travel options online.
  • Travel shoppers are attracted to a relevant and compelling hotel story, particularly when it is vividly presented with photos, videos and visual walkthroughs highlighting specific hotel attributes that reflect their individual interests.
 
If you want to capture attention, generate interest and turn online lookers into bookers, you’ll need to understand the shoppers you are targeting. You’ll need to know what differentiates one group of potential guests from another. By studying your prospective and existing customers carefully, you’ll discover how to market your hotel online in ways that truly motivate them and differentiate you from the competition. You’ll learn what features and attributes of your hotel will motivate travel shoppers to book your hotel.
 
Travel Becomes Increasingly Precious in the Down Economy
 
Travel industry research suggests that hoteliers are now facing a wave of change and new challenges. They are challenged to address a difficult economy, frugal and demanding travelers, and a growing shift toward online travel shopping.
 
The recent economic downturn has certainly taken its toll on consumer confidence evidenced by the fact that 63% of US online travelers believe the U.S. economy will become worse this year, while just 17% expect it to improve.1 This has led to cutbacks in both leisure and business travel. The Economist Intelligence Unit reports that nearly half of the executives it surveyed said they were planning fewer trips this year, and 16% of the executives said they would cut back the number of trips by 30 percent or more.2 According to a study by Deloitte, 38% of respondents expect to spend less on vacation/leisure travel this year.3 But even as travelers reduce the number of trips they are willing to take, they are continuing to seek high quality travel experiences and are shopping with greater care and diligence. This behavior suggests that the economy makes travel more precious.
 
The factor enabling travel shoppers to search, compare and buy with greater diligence is the ongoing growth in Internet usage. Approximately 90 million American adults used the Internet to plan travel during the past year with 76.4% of online travelers planning leisure trips online.4 It’s a lucrative group as well. “Travelers who use online channels in the planning process spend more annually, travel more frequently and spend more per trip than offline planners,” according to research firm PhoCusWright.5
 
Download the white paper »
 
References:
 
1.   North American Technographics® Travel Online Survey, Q1 2009 (US), Forrester Research, Inc., February 2009.
2.  “Reports Show Execs Expect Business Travel Cutbacks and Downgrades,” Business Travel News, Feb. 9, 2009.
3.  “2009 Industry Outlook: Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure,” Hospitality.Net, Feb. 10, 2009.
4.  Travel Industry Association, “Travelers’ Use of the Internet,” 2008.
5.  PhoCusWright, “Consumer Travel Report, Part One: Behavioral Trends,” 2009.


About VFM Leonardo
VFM Leonardo is a technology leader in online visual content management and distribution systems. VFM Leonardo's VScape® and VBrochure™ products leverage the distribution capabilities of the VNetwork™, the most universally accepted and largest online visual content distribution network for the global travel industry including all four global distribution systems (GDSs), Pegasus and travel-related channels including online travel agencies, travel research and supplier web sites, search portals and major travel intermediaries. VFM Leonardo offers the hotel industry the most effective digital asset management and online merchandising systems available today and efficiently delivers over 1,000,000 visual images (photos, virtual tours and videos) to more than 30,000 travel channels and websites in the VNetwork including Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre, Worldspan, Pegasus, Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline, Tripadvisor, Yahoo! Travel, Kayak, Google and many more for 90,000 hotels worldwide. For more information about VFM Leonardo, visit www.vfmleonardo.com. Follow VFM Leonardo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VFMLeonardo.

Contact:

Julie Vieth
Communications Specialist
VFM Leonardo Inc.
www.vfmleonardo.com
111 Peter Street, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON, M5V 2H1 Canada
Toll free: 1-877-593-6634
Phone: 416-263-5446
Fax: 416-593-7572
press@vfmleonardo.com


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Also See: New VTV Episode: The New Luxury – Merchandise, Don’t Sell / September 2009

Content: The Key to Hotel Bookings - Complimentary Webinar September 10th; Learn about the Five Pillars of Effective Travel eBusiness and how hotel content plays a significant role in driving bookings. / September 2009

New VTV Episode: VIDEO - Visual Content Decisions - What? How Much? Why? / September 2009

Content: The Key to Hotel Bookings? / John McAuliffe - VFM Leonardo / September 2009

New VTV Episode: How to Know Where the Fish Are / August 2009

Preferred Hotel Group Selects VFM Leonardo as Exclusive Provider of Visual Content Distribution Services; Member properties of Preferred Hotel Group’s brands to use VFM Leonardo’s VScape® and VBrochure™ products exclusively to 30,000+ electronic channels and travel websites in VNetwork™ / August 2009

StarCite Partners With VFM Leonardo to Enhance Online Meetings Marketplace With Rich Hotel Visual Content; VFM Leonardo to be Exclusive Provider of Rich Content Showcasing Hotel Properties to Corporate Buyers Within StarCite’s Online Marketplace / August 2009

VFM Leonardo Chosen as Exclusive Provider of Hotel Visual Content for Concur’s Corporate Travel Booking Solutions; Largest distributor of visual content for hotels worldwide expands relationship with Concur making their photos, virtual tours and video available to thousands of corporate customers / August 2009

New VTV Episode: Online vs. Offline Marketing / August 2009

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VFM Leonardo Selected to Exclusively Manage and Distribute Visual Content for La Quinta Inns & Suites; VFM Leonardo’s VScape® Digital Asset Management System adopted by limited service hotel chain to manage visual content and seamlessly distribute to electronic distribution channels. / August 2009

This Week on VFM Leonardo's VTV: "The New Luxury - Experience, Not Status" with Bonnie Knutson, Professor at the Michigan State University School of Hospitality Business / August 2009

This Week on VFM Leonardo’s VTV: Experiential Marketing - What It Is and Isn't; Educational video blog featuring weekly interviews with hotel and travel industry experts launches new episode: Experiential Marketing - What It Is and Isn't with Laurence Bernstein of the Bay Charles Consulting Company and host John McAuliffe, VFM Leonardo’s Chief Marketing Officer / August 2009

VFM Leonardo Expands VNetwork™ to Include Travel Deals & Sales Consumer Site Voyij.com; VFM Leonardo enables hoteliers to better merchandise their properties to travel shoppers on Voyij.com (recently launched by the creators of SideStep.com) by providing the site with hotel photos, virtual tours and videos / August 2009

VFM Leonardo Expands VNetwork™ to Include Gekko.com; The largest distributor of visual content for hotels worldwide expands distribution network to enable hotels to display their photos in front of more prospective guests online on unique hotel recommendation website, Gekko.com / August 2009

Pegasus Solutions and VFM Leonardo Form Strategic Partnership; Pegasus Chooses VFM Leonardo's VScape® Digital Asset Management System to Power All Visual Content for ODD and Content Hub / June 2009

Utell® Hotels & Resorts Signs Up Hundreds of New Members in 2009, Around the Globe, 471 Hotels from
65 Countries Have Selected Utell Since the Beginning of the Year / June 2009

Pegasus Solutions Teams with Rubicon to Launch New MarketVision Competitive Intelligence Reporting: Visit HITEC Booth #1054 or twitter.com/pegexec, Hotel Users Switch to MarketVision to Take Advantage of Pre-eminent Market Intelligence / June 2009
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