Friday, 11 October 2013

The future of independent booking – as hotels and online travel agents (OTAs) see it

So I was privy to a presentation from Google talking about the trends it sees in travel and the forecast for the industry – the thing with Google is that 1) it sits on huge amounts of user data from our searches, our blogs, our reviews, our thoughts, our status updates and our videos and 2) it receives billions of pounds in advertising from the travel industry – so it definitely has an interest in the market…

Interesting trends:
43% people move between devices when researching travel
Desktop saw a reduction of searches by -6%
Mobile saw an increase in searches by +71%
Tablet saw an increase in searches by +131%

Admittedly I work across all 3 devices, but my tablet is only connected to WiFi so I do tend to end up working on my mobile or Desktop - I still love my laptop.

The UK, according to Deloitte, is one of the most advanced for using mobiles, with smartphone penetration at a height of 72%.

It must people pointed out, however, that if you do a search on Google for most regular terms it is likely your results will be the big online travel agents, therefore to filter these out, you should consider long-tail key words that focus on Location, Season, Events, Interests etc…so if you’re looking for a hotel

AVOID:
-       Hotel Munich

USE
-       3star, hotel munich, boutique, special Oktoberfest events, towards the north of city

If you have interest in a particular event or location in the city, name it in your search term, this will give you an array of new results that will include independent hotels.

What the hoteliers on the panel did note, is that the OTAs do offer travelers the ‘Distressed’ inventory – this is rooms that have not yet been sold. Therefore a greater opportunity to get a good deal on these rooms.

Another place to look for checking hotel rates is meta-search website http://www.hipmunk.com/ that offers the Discomfort factor…how much are you willing to lose out on for the sake of a good rate at a hotel…give it a test run and see if it suits your needs. An alternative is http://trivago.com/ offering comparison in products for you.

What all this shows us, is that the way we may soon research travel is going to change. The hotels are fighting the OTAs, the OTAs are buying new companies to stay ahead, and the technology is changing fast. Furthermore, the way, we as travelers must interact with Search Engines has to change to give us the results that we want.

So – are you ready to make a change in the way you buy your travels?