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Analyzing the real source of Hotel Bookings



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
20.2% OTAs
17.2% Other
16.0% Tripadvisor
11.8% Repeat Guest
2.7% Travel Agent
2.7% Blogs
2.0% Facebook
2.1% Magazine
1.0% Travel Guide
0.1% Twitter

(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,, 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.


  1. Wihp Team

    Top referring sites for Hotels – WIHP Magazine | WIHP Magazine
    [...] Analyzing the real source of Hotel Bookings [...]

  2. Wihp Team

    Top referring sites for Hotels by WIHP – Hotel Marketing Blog – Mirarmedia by Martin Soler | Hotel Marketing Blog – Mirarmedia by Martin Soler
    [...] the search engines. They bring the most of the traffic as mentioned in my prior article about the real source of hotel bookings, the majority of the people booking the hotel have found the hotel elsewhere and at the time of [...]

  3. Edwin Ward

    There’s a spelling mistake in the “About WIHP” so suggest you sort that out, it doesn’t help to build confidence. The survey is interesting, but why did it take months to gather the data?

  4. Tony Loeb

    Thank you Edwin, sorry for the delay to answer. We fixed it!

  5. Wihp Team

    Top referring sites for hotels that convert | Accommodation Guru Blog
    [...] the search engines. They bring the most of the traffic as mentioned in my prior article about the real source of hotel bookings, the majority of the people booking the hotel have found the hotel elsewhere and at the time of [...]

  6. Mike Scherer

    Thanks for this information, it is a timely reminder to all hotel front line personel to never upset the guest no matter how contrary they might be. It also reinforces the concept of getting guest feedback, good and bad.

  7. Tony Loeb

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the comment. If you’re pretty interested into review sites, have a look on our last tripadvisor study:
    Looking forward to hear about your comment on this post

  8. bulent korcan

    i m asked ppc for a small hotel in sultanahmet, istanbul
    the hotel small and my guess is the budget also small
    do you have any solution for small hotels only for ppc (for start)?
    price for each adgroups

  9. Tony Loeb

    Hi Bulent,
    Pay Per Click prices depends on the platform, the keywords and the skill use to do them. But the prices ares based on an amount of clicks. So you can set up how much you would like to spend per month, and we try to provide you the maximum number of clicks for this busget.
    You should get in touch with our sales departement to find out what could we do to help you: contact [AT]

  10. Wihp Team

    Where to find new customers online? SEO vs. Social Media
    [...] hotel. While both have value, this article is about finding new customers. We’ve covered the real source of hotel bookings and what sites refer most bookings earlier which was purely based on quantity. Here we’re [...]

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Martin Soler

VP Marketing and Sales

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