This is an article written by the Marketing Director of WIHP which we are re-posting here.
I’ve been doing some research lately to find out how the customers that booked on the hotel websites heard about the hotel. We (me and our analysts at WIHP) reached out to over 6000 guests to gather their information. The hotel base we selected was about 100 hotels located in Paris, Rome and Barcelona. A selection of independent hotels varying from cheap to luxury and including Boutique. A pretty wide variety of hotels but all of them independent and in the smaller category of about 30-50 rooms.
We used the classic question “How did you hear about us?” and to be quite honest I was expecting something rather different from what I found. We already know that about 90% of the bookings done on a hotel’s website are done by people who search for the hotel on their search engine, the question that we wanted to answer was how did the guest find out about the hotel.
After some months of surveying the guests we started seeing the answers roll in and they were very interesting, here we go:
Hotel Marketing Survey – how did you hear about us – by WIHP
24.1% Friends or Family
11.8% Repeat Guest
2.7% Travel Agent
1.0% Travel Guide
(Fr) Question de l’enquête : “Comment avez-vous entendu parler de nous ?”
Survey Question: How did you hear about us?
Amazingly (or not) Friends or Family is the leading reply, Google found exactly the same in their survey which you can find here. While I didn’t expect that to be the top answer it obviously makes sense and we’re back to the old marketing and PR law that word of mouth is your best advertising. However here is where the Social Media Marketer needs to realize that his role is to leverage that and yield it to the maximum, sure Social Medial will alsocreate new customers via totally different channels but your social media campaign is all about Friends and Family and do it right, it’s a massive revenue generator. All the staff participate, they’ve got to make sure the guest don’t just feel “good” they’ve got to feel GREAT! and Social Media manager better be concerned about that and do something about it if it isn’t the case.
OTAs (Expedia, Booking.com, Orbitz etc) come second and here is where the hotelier who tries to shut off the OTA is a fool, and his goal shouldn’t be to exclude them but include them intelligently so it generates bookings via the OTAs and spills over to the website, it needs to be a win-win partnership.
The category “other” contains too many variable replies and while we’re analysing those too I wanted to mention that Google search is included in here. I mention that because some hoteliers will think they their SEO strategy is to be found through all manner of search terms and thus pull in new customers. For your average independent hotel that’s a bad strategy. You will end up with a tremendous bounce rate and eventually Google will notice your site isn’t about “Boutique Hotels in London” and will push down the ranking costing you the double in work. The best strategy for an independent hotel is to build a proper website and get popular through all the regular channels. Additionally I purposely didn’t give the option “Google” or “Search engine” in the survey since sure they found the hotel on Google, but they knew the name before they Googled it.
Tripadvisor comes fourth which is quite interesting. Some time ago I was all over telling hotels to buy their link on Tripadvisor, however about 50% of the hotels that participated in this survey didn’t have that link and oddly enough some of the hotels that didn’t have the link and were very low on the overall chart (1100 out of 1800 hotels) had about 20% of their guest come from Tripadvisor. What I learned from this is that your ranking on the site is not as important as the reviews. Having the last 5-10 reviews all positive and great is more important to your revenues than tearing your hair out because you lost 10 places on their site. Which is great news – because now you know you can always do something about it.
While I am not going to cover the rest of the results, I am sure you understand the figures as well as everyone else, I did want to mention that Facebook with 2% is quite interesting. Facebook is definitely on the rise as a travel marketing resource and I recommend hoteliers to embrace it as a means to reach millions and help them on their buying process.
VP Marketing and Sales
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