As online bookings continue to move forward at a furious pace, here are key travel and hotel booking trends to watch out for in 2017 and how to make the most of it.
1. OTAs dominate and mutate with metasearch
Online travel agents (OTAs) continue their dominance when it comes to booking accommodation. A Phocuswright report shows that in the US alone, OTAs will enjoy a share of 52% in 2017. And this is a global phenomenon.
A bigger hotel booking trend is the continued mutation of OTAs with metasearch sites thanks to price parity. Consumers are being allowed to complete transactions in the metasearch environment by sites such as Google, Trivago and TripAdvisor. In this space Google’s emergence as an “uber-meta” of sorts is being closely watched.
Don’t expect these trends to change any time soon and make the most of it by optimising your online presence by using a channel manager.
2. Mobile continues to rule
Mobile has changed the way people research and book their travel. Google’s Micro-Moments research shows that 31% of leisure travellers and 53% of business travellers have booked on a smartphone. The study also reveals that 93% travellers switch between devices while planning and booking a trip. 46% of travellers researched indicated that they plan on mobile/ smartphone but book on another device. Anxiety factor (are they getting the best price?) and lack of mobile friendly sites and apps contribute to this trend.
So what can you do?
Make your website mobile friendly – look at the load speed and design for a mobile user who is seeing your site on a very small screen. Alleviate users’ price anxiety by offering assurance that they’re not losing out by booking on mobile (eg. no penalty to cancellations). Tools such as STAAH’s Instant Site are an easy-to-use and effective platform to create a website that works to increase your business in this mobile dominated world.
3. Technology is fuelling instant gratification for customers
According to a Booking.com research, 44% travellers expect to be able to plan their holiday in a few simple taps of their smart phone and over half (52%) expect their use of travel apps to increase in 2017. OTAs and metasearch are among the booking systems online that are already adapting to this trend. You can ride high with them by optimising your presence on their sites through an effective channel manager while also working towards making sure your website is geared to meet the demands of this tech-savvy user. STAAH’s Instant Site has been developed keeping this trend in mind.
4. Bleisure on the rise
Expect continued blurring between the business and leisure traveller. According to Booking.com, 49% of business travellers already extend their business trips to further enjoy the destination, while three quarters (75%) intend to do so the same or more in the coming year.
Heavy smartphone users, the need for a mobile friendly website, an effective hotel management system and good online presence through OTAs and metasearch is very relevant to this lucrative, high-spending segment.
5. Eco traveller boom
According to Booking.com, 2017 will see 36% of travellers planning to choose more eco-friendly travel options than they did in 2016 and 39% interested in an eco-tour travel experience. If you have it, wear your environmentally-friendly badge loud and proud on your website and listings with online channels.
6. Micro-Moments is the real deal
Mobile usage has “fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time intent-driven micro-moments” according to Google. In response “brands need to address their needs with real-time relevance”.
Get familiar with the micro-moments of travel so you can be there and be useful by providing the right content at the right time. This can be achieved through effective channel management for increased online conversions or delivering a seamless experience through your mobile-optimised website.
7. Independent hotels gain
If you’re an independent hotel, rejoice. You no longer need to rely on a powerful brand to get in front of a GDS for your distribution needs. OTAs and metasearch have been game changers over the last few years – a great (albeit slightly expensive!) channel to get in front of billions. All you need by your side is a good channel manager. As digital marketing reaches new heights, it is also more accessible than ever before – even to the smallest of operators. As a result we can expect to see a continued rise in independent hotels popularity and reach.