The hospitality digital landscape is a complex ecosystem.
Online Travel Agent websites (OTAs) pull in more website traffic than do branded hotel websites according to October 2013 numbers compiled by Skift.com; the top hotel site, pales when compared to the top OTA website, which saw 108 million visitors for the same month.
In June, Priceline acquired Buuteeq. A recent Tnooz article by Thibault Lecuyer suggests Buuteeq gives Priceline a foothold in the direct booking arena of a hotel’s website. As Lecuyer points out, between Buuteeq and Priceline’s acquisition of Hotel Ninjas, they’re all but behind a hotel’s front desk right now.
It’s no secret that consumers have become price comparison shopping experts. Metasearch options Kayak and Trivago have quickly forged strong positions in the hospitality marketplace. But SalesCycle’s latest infographic notes that 68% of hospitality shopping carts are abandoned, which suggests that while we may be going through the motions, price may not be the strongest reason to complete the purchase cycle. That’s where great content has an edge.
Travel inspiration websites are again on the rise, and TripAdvisor and Booking.com are among early adopters who offer such content in addition to standard search and booking. Is this where travelers are looking for travel inspiration?
Sharing the wonder of travel is as natural as breathing. We gleefully share vacation photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We look for authentic local experiences and seek out the best neighborhood dining, whether we’re visiting Istanbul or Sheboygan. When we’re preparing for a trip, we ask friends and seek the advice of other moms on the best spots and strategies for seeing Disney World with the kids. And with the advice and recommendations come tales of others’ adventures to spur us on.
There’s no question actual (and armchair) travelers are inspired by evocative storytelling. Dr. Pamela Rutledge notes our brains are hardwired to find meaning in stories, to make sense of our experiences because stories are a primal form of communication. Savvy brands are leveraging the power of stories to engage their community of loyalists. Marriott International urges its 330,000 employees to see themselves as content creators, something they recognize as a key strategy for marketing to the next generation. Renaissance Hotels re-launched the brand’s website as a discovery site with curated local discoveries from more than 150 locations. It’s no accident the site is dominated by engaging visual images in the style of Instagram and Flickr. Sofitel Luxury Hotels’ Tumblr account, Life is Magnifique!, combines smart text with compelling visual imagery about the best of the moment.
Great storytelling fires our imagination and whets our appetite to experience something new, different, local or authentic. Creating effective content that appeals to the target audience, works across multiple platforms and actually inspires readers to become travelers, which is what it’s all about. If you want to drive conversions, take a hard look at the quality of the content you’re offering. Does it inspire?
Kathleen Gossman is the Content Strategist at Enveritas Group