the 2021 guidehotel travel
consumer consumer
digital touchpoints

Digital marketing for hotels would be much easier if the traveler consumer journey were a linear one. Unfortunately, it’s anything but. Travelers use multiple tools and channels at almost every phase of that journey. On top of that, travelers use the same tool over and over but for different reasons at different phases of the journey. This infographic is designed to help hotels unpack and categorize these channels by how travelers use them at every phase of the journey.

Asian Woman pulling a travel bag

actively discovering
hotels in your destination

the traveler mindset at this stage

  • Decided on the destination, but not yet decided on a hotel.
  • Looking for a place to start, looking for a list of hotels
  • Open to the new and interesting
  • Might be motivated by rate, but it’s a secondary concern

the tools they
use to discover

meet the hotel search engines

When a traveler begins a destination level search for hotels on any one of the below hotel search engines, they are essentially looking for a place to start, a list to start browsing.

And that’s what they get.

OTAs logos Laptop displaying Expedia website

how do I impact consumer behavior
at this stage of the journey?

  • Most of the channels above allow hotels to run ads at this point, to bring your property to the top of the search results, which helps introduce your property to new travelers who may never have stumbled on your property otherwise.
  • Leverage the search engines to drive direct. The advertising tools at this stage also allow hotels to bring travelers away from the search engine and back to the hotel website.
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actively qualifying hotels

the traveler mindset at this stage

  • Interested in learning more about a specific hotel and its story.
  • Interested in seeing real photos of the hotel and comparing that to professional images.
  • Interested in what other people say about their stay.
  • Interested in understanding exactly what makes that property different from the others.

the tools they use to qualify

There’s a lot going on in this phase. Travelers are looking for validation. They want to know what travelers are saying, so they might read reviews on Tripadvisor, Expedia, or even Facebook. They want to see photography, but not just professional, they’ll look up the hashtag on Instagram and see what other guests are posting. Different demographics look to different tools to help them make their decisions.

OTAs Logos Laptop showing tripadvisor website

how do I impact consumer behavior
at this stage of the journey?

  • Monitoring and responding to positive and negative reviews is key here.
  • Monitoring the images that travelers are posting on Instagram and Google.
  • Unlike the sterile environment of the search engines, your hotel website can be warm, playful, inviting and help guests truly connect with your brand story.
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actively shopping hotel rates

the traveler mindset at this stage

  • Want to make sure they are getting the best rate.
  • Interested in what other people say about their stay.

the tools they use to compare rates

meet the metasearch engines 

Search Engine logos Mobile phone displaying Google Results page

At this stage, the goal is to win that all-important direct booking. To do that, rate parity is key. If Expedia has a lower rate than your hotel website, you lose.

Metasearch engines have quickly become the single greatest asset for hoteliers looking to shift share away from the OTAs.

The list of metasearch engines is a little more manageable. But don’t be fooled, many of the largest metasearch engines are owned by the OTAs. Google owns Google’s obviously, but Expedia owns Trivago and owns Kayak.

how do I impact consumer behavior
at this stage of the journey?

  • Investing in metasearch advertising at this stage helps ensure travelers book direct instead of through an OTA, costing you on average 20% commission.
  • As long as the cost per booking from your metasearch advertising is less than the cost of the commission, you’re saving money here.
  • Rate parity - If you’re rates are out of parity, the OTAs are going to beat you up.
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actively booking their stay

the traveler mindset at this stage

  • Knows which hotel they want to book. It’s just a matter of deciding which channel they want to book it at.
  • Might be loyal to the brand or loyal to the OTA. Or their loyalty might still be up for grabs.

the tools they use to book

This is where it can get overwhelming for hotels and for customers. Knowing where to book. The good news is, travelers who know the name of the property they want are more than likely either going to go to the hotel website directly or to google where they’ll type in the name of the property. Both are opportunities for hoteliers to win that direct booking. At this point, if a consumer goes directly to the OTA, odds are you won the booking, but you’ll be paying those commission fees. 

OTAs logos Laptop displaying google search results

how do I impact consumer behavior
at this stage of the journey?

  • Investing in google branded search or bing branded search is going to help you combat travelers booking through the OTAs.
  • Metasearch advertising and rate parity are still critical here, your traveler may be checking rates one last time.
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