From Dreaming to Booking Part III: The Planning Phase - How to Capitalize on the Planning Phase of the Travel Planning Journey
March 15, 2018 10:33am
By Margaret Mastrogiacomo, VP Strategy
This article is part three in a five-part series that uncovers top strategies for reaching potential guests in meaningful moments throughout every stage of the travel planning journey to increase direct bookings. This article focuses on the second stage of travel planning: the planning phase.
The moment you decide to take the plunge on planning a vacation can be just as exciting as the vacation itself. Once someone chooses a travel destination, the dreaming phase starts to become a reality, setting the travel planning phase in motion.
Read on for part three of our five-part series titled, “How to Capitalize on the Full Travel Planning Journey to Drive Direct Bookings” to understand how hotel marketers can reach potential guests in the planning phase of the online travel journey. We will uncover what online behaviors are most common in this stage, what marketing channels are most effective, and how to measure success.
What exactly is the planning phase?
The second stage of travel planning is the planning phase when consumers have decided on a destination and start planning the details of their trip. Google refers to the micro-moments throughout this phase as “Time-to-Make-a-Plan” moments, where consumers’ begin researching transportation, flights, hotel accommodations, and vacation activities.
According to Google, in this stage, mobile devices are playing a critical role with more than one in three travelers agreeing that when researching on their smartphones, they've discovered a new travel company.
Millennials are Mobile in the Planning Phase.
The statistics are even greater among millennial travelers with 50% reporting they discovered a new travel company while researching on mobile. Today, travel planning across devices is becoming second nature with leisure travelers now being just as likely to plan travel on their smartphone as they are to shop for music. This shift to mobile in the planning process means marketers need to rethink how they are delivering content and engaging with potential guests throughout this phase.
What digital touchpoints are making an impact throughout the planning phase?
By now you should have already reached potential guests throughout the dreaming phase to influence important travel planning decisions. But, if you aren’t already in the consideration set at this point in the journey, reaching travel consumers in key research and planning micro-moments is your chance to make an impact. So, what exactly do these micro-moments look like throughout the planning phase?
A study conducted by Think with Google has confirmed that the majority of time spent throughout the planning phase is:
With almost half of research taking place on search engines and maps, having a strong search strategy throughout the planning phase must be a top priority. While OTAs are still a top resource, according to the Google study results, OTAs played a greater role in the dreaming phase. Now travel planners are simply revisiting OTA websites to price compare the options already on their radar.
So, what type of content are travelers looking for in the planning phase?
During the planning phase, travelers reported that search is the most common way in which they discovered the brand they ultimately booked. People want brands to provide content to inspire and to help narrow down the area in the destination they wish to stay, accommodation options, and vacation activities. The most common searches in this phase are keywords surrounding accommodations and transportation:
Interestingly enough, some searches, like hotels with a specific type of amenity, are primarily happening on smartphones. "Hotel with an indoor pool" and "hotel with jacuzzi in room" are two of the top hotel amenity searches on smartphones. In fact, 70% of these types of hotel accommodation searches are happening on mobile, revealing just how important it is for hotel marketers to make their accommodations come to life across devices and on smaller screens.
The best marketing mix to reach travelers in the planning phase:
Measuring the Planning Phase: Focus on the KPIs that Count.
In our last article of this series, we covered the top KPIs to focus on in the dreaming phase. Since potential guests engaged in the planning phase of the travel journey have not yet moved into the booking phase, KPIs still remain focused on awareness, traffic, and engagement:
Overall, reaching travel consumers in the planning phase ensures that you nurture as many potential guests into the booking phase as possible. Your hotel brand should be present throughout at least two to three digital micro-moments with meaningful, relevant messaging within the planning phase to make a significant impact and ultimately win the booking.
smart data marketing
Founded in 2001, the firm is headquartered in New York City and has global offices in Las Vegas and the Asia-Pacific. Through its Smart Guest Acquisition Suite, including the smartCMS®, Smart Personalization Engine, Smart Data Marketing, and full-service digital consulting and marketing solutions, HEBS Digital helps hoteliers drastically boost direct bookings, lower distribution costs, and increase the lifetime value of guests. Its diverse client portfolio consists of top-tier luxury and boutique hotel chains, independent hotels, resorts and casinos, franchised properties and hotel management companies, convention centers, spas, restaurants, DMO and tourist offices.
Part of NextGuest Technologies, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM, the most comprehensive Hotel CRM Suite today, are the creators of the hospitality industry’s first Fully-Integrated Guest Engagement & Acquisition Platform.
Contact HEBS Digital’s consultants at 1 (800) 649-5076 (North America), +64 (0) 9 889 8489 (Asia Pacific) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Garrick Lee
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