Rich Content Such as Internet Videos, Virtual Tours and
Flash Presentations Significantly Impact the Buying
Decision of Consumers Researching
and Booking Hotels Online
December 2003 - The average North American hotel today is generating 13% of its bookings directly through the internet.  An additional 14% of its bookings are made off-line by consumers who research online but prefer to book direct. Approximately 53% of a hotel’s online bookings are generated through the hotel’s own website, while the remaining 47% come from third party travel sites.

Hotel images are key to the consumer hotel buying decision on the Internet. People want to see where they are going to stay and one of the most frequent complaints by consumers researching and booking hotels online is the lack of images.

In fact, studies show that one of the most effective ways of impacting the online consumer’s buying decision is with “rich content” such as pictures, 360 degrees virtual tour images, videos, flash presentations etc.  One such study conducted by Carlson showed that Radisson hotels that feature videos and virtual tours on Radisson.com are averaging 52% more online revenues than those that do not.

Hotels should ensure that they have quality rich content that satisfies the online consumer’s need for information on their own website.  But this is not enough.  Hotels must recognize that having that rich content on third party travel sites is just as important. 

Travel websites act as a hotel “discovery” channel for online consumers.  On average, consumers visit 4-7 websites before making a hotel booking. A large percentage of those consumers will actually visit a hotel’s own website as part of their research before making a booking. According to Expedia, for example, for every consumer who books a hotel room on their site, another consumer will book directly with the hotel property after discovering or researching that property on Expedia. 

Since the consumer’s first impression of a hotel is often through a third party travel website, having the best representation on those sites can have a significant impact on hotel revenues. For a hotel, the question becomes: how do you get the best presentation out onto those sites? Currently, the GDSs and other distribution intermediaries, at best, will distribute only a few hotel still images. In addition, most travel websites do not have the infrastructure to accept rich content such as videos and virtual tours directly from hotels.  Accordingly, hotels need to look to other partners to manage this distribution and get more compelling content up on these travel sites.

There are two things that a hotel should look for when selecting a rich content partner.   First, if the hotel does not have existing rich content, the partner must be able to provide affordable, quality media production services. Secondly, the partner must be able to place the hotel’s content on as many of travel websites as possible, including the hotel’s own website and its brand website. This means that the provider must be endorsed by both the hotel’s brand and the travel websites where the hotel is listed. 

VFM Interactive is just such a partner.  The company provides online video, virtual tour and other rich content production and distribution services to hundreds of branded and independent hotels.  As an approved vendor, the company distributes rich content to most of the major hotel brand sites, including Carlson, Hilton, Intercontinental, Interstate, Marriott and Starwood just to name a few.   VFM Interactive also has the broadest rich content distribution network with over 5,000 partner travel websites including, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor.

For Steve Kaufer, CEO, TripAdvisor, ”VFM Interactive’s hotel and resort videos are another great source of relevant information that we are now able to provide to our users to enhance their travel research experience on TripAdvisor."

As stated by Jay Dahlke, Director of Sales & Marketing, Courtyard by Marriott New Orleans, “This type of tool is clearly the future of hotel marketing and will help us build demand for our hotel."   And Andrew Jordan, Sr. VP of Marketing, Wyndham Hotels, concurs:  “We believe that the information and emotion conveyed by video will fill a key void in building an Internet shopper's trust in a vendor's online offering."

To sum up, rich content can significantly impact the buying decision of consumers researching and booking hotels online. Many consumers are researching and discovering hotels on third party travel sites. For this reason, hotels should consider providing consumers with rich content on these sites as well as their own websites.

About VFM Interactive Inc.

VFM Interactive is the leading provider of interactive content solutions to the lodging and travel industry. The Company produces streaming videos, virtual tours and other interactive content and utilizes a proprietary technology to manage, assemble, distribute and track the performance of interactive content for a growing number of client hotels and partner travel websites.

Click here to see one of VFM Interactive’s hotel videos.

For more information, please visit www.vfmii.com.

Shelly Edwards
Director of New Business Development
VFM Interactive Inc.
1-877-593-6634 Ext. 230

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