Frommer's Travel Intention Survey: Some Highlights

Frommer’s recently commissioned a travel survey to help travel marketers better understand how to optimize their Web strategy.  The survey brought out some interesting insights for marketers of tourism and travel.

Frommers Survey sample:
1324 online travel consumers – asking what influenced their travel decisions,
inc. what determined where they go, what content they looked for when planning and booking a trip,
and what would improve their experience.

A Chicks’ Summary:

1. Needs Change depending on place in the buying cycle:
-Pre booking: images and written description of the destination important (DMO’s/Hotels – this is a key point)
-post-booking a map of the destination was the essential item of content, with travel tips,
weather, events and activities information and local dining and attractions. (Think post booking sales opportunities hotels…customers are already sold and looking for more information).

2.  Online Research most influential in making Travel decisions in 78% of survey
-Friends Recommendations next most influential factor 74% (note importance of social media as the ultimate word  of mouth)
-Travel books 54%
-newspapers 20%
-Travel agencies 4% (ouch! Consider the sample here though)

3. 85% of respondents said Price is a key factor in deciding on a travel Destination
*** 84% of survey looking for destination information during the pre-booking stage (this shows us how important the Destination marketing/VCB website is to the buying decision for a destination)

4. Good information on Destination websites (ie detailed travel guides and content) effect on decision to book:
-56% More likely to book with detailed content (stories/travel guides)
-43% No effect on booking (lower than I would have thought)

5. Important Content to Planning Cycle:
-Images:
-Info on Activities and Events
-Written descriptions of the destination
-Maps
-Weather
-Travel info (currency/border info. etc.)
-Video Content: (lower in importance – only 25% of respondants *note: Video is not considered important to research, but may act to make the website more engaging.)

7. Negative Experiences online include:
Confusing websites: 65% (make sure you are focusing on Website Usability best practices and test your site for ease of use)
Insufficient photos: 51%

**Content not bookable online only 35% felt this was a negative

Conclusions/Summary:

  • Content is still king: add good content to sites to not only inform and inspire customers but also to attract them through natural search. Content also plays an important role in the user’s experience on websites, which impacts on conversion rates and loyalty.
  • As users continue to embrace social media to connect with friends, and view friends recommendations as very influential in making travel buying decisions–  Social media will have a role to play in how friends can influence each other’s travel plans. Through Twitter’s “what are you doing?” Facebook’s status updates, Flickr’s photo sharing and beyond, it is getting increasingly easy to share experiences and thereby influence the travel plans of others.

Frommer's Travel Intention Survey: Some Highlights

Frommer’s recently commissioned a travel survey to help travel marketers better understand how to optimize their Web strategy.  The survey brought out some interesting insights for marketers of tourism and travel.
Frommers Survey sample:
1324 online travel consumers – asking what influenced their travel decisions,
inc. what determined where they go, what content they looked for when planning and booking a trip,
and what would improve their experience.

A Chicks’ Summary:

1. Needs Change depending on place in the buying cycle:
-Pre booking: images and written description of the destination important (DMO’s/Hotels – this is a key point)
-post-booking a map of the destination was the essential item of content, with travel tips,
weather, events and activities information and local dining and attractions. (Think post booking sales opportunities hotels…customers are already sold and looking for more information).

2.  Online Research most influential in making Travel decisions in 78% of survey
-Friends Recommendations next most influential factor 74% (note importance of social media as the ultimate word  of mouth)
-Travel books 54%
-newspapers 20%
-Travel agencies 4% (ouch! Consider the sample here though)

3. 85% of respondents said Price is a key factor in deciding on a travel Destination
*** 84% of survey looking for destination information during the pre-booking stage (this shows us how important the Destination marketing/VCB website is to the buying decision for a destination)

4. Good information on Destination websites (ie detailed travel guides and content) effect on decision to book:
-56% More likely to book with detailed content (stories/travel guides)
-43% No effect on booking (lower than I would have thought)

5. Important Content to Planning Cycle:
-Images:
-Info on Activities and Events
-Written descriptions of the destination
-Maps
-Weather
-Travel info (currency/border info. etc.)
-Video Content: (lower in importance – only 25% of respondants *note: Video is not considered important to research, but may act to make the website more engaging.)

7. Negative Experiences online include:
Confusing websites: 65% (make sure you are focusing on Website Usability best practices and test your site for ease of use)
Insufficient photos: 51%

**Content not bookable online only 35% felt this was a negative

Conclusions/Summary:

  • ‘Content is still king’: add good content to sites to not only inform and inspire customers but also to attract them through natural search. Content also plays an important role in the user’s experience on websites, which impacts on conversion rates and loyalty.
  • As users continue to embrace social media to connect with friends, and view friends recommendations as very influential in making travel buying decisions-  Social media will have a role to play in how friends can influence each other’s travel plans. Through Twitter’s ‘what are you doing?’ Facebook’s status updates, Flickr’s photo sharing and beyond, it is getting increasingly easy to share experiences and thereby influence the travel plans of others.

[tags]frommers travel survey, tourism marketing statistics, travel marketers, tourism marketing, social media marketing,destination marketing, web marketing, website usability[/tags]

Frommer’s Travel Intention Survey: Some Highlights

Frommer’s recently commissioned a travel survey to help travel marketers better understand how to optimize their Web strategy.  The survey brought out some interesting insights for marketers of tourism and travel.
Frommers Survey sample:
1324 online travel consumers – asking what influenced their travel decisions,
inc. what determined where they go, what content they looked for when planning and booking a trip,
and what would improve their experience.

A Chicks’ Summary:

1. Needs Change depending on place in the buying cycle:
-Pre booking: images and written description of the destination important (DMO’s/Hotels – this is a key point)
-post-booking a map of the destination was the essential item of content, with travel tips,
weather, events and activities information and local dining and attractions. (Think post booking sales opportunities hotels…customers are already sold and looking for more information).

2.  Online Research most influential in making Travel decisions in 78% of survey
-Friends Recommendations next most influential factor 74% (note importance of social media as the ultimate word  of mouth)
-Travel books 54%
-newspapers 20%
-Travel agencies 4% (ouch! Consider the sample here though)

3. 85% of respondents said Price is a key factor in deciding on a travel Destination
*** 84% of survey looking for destination information during the pre-booking stage (this shows us how important the Destination marketing/VCB website is to the buying decision for a destination)

4. Good information on Destination websites (ie detailed travel guides and content) effect on decision to book:
-56% More likely to book with detailed content (stories/travel guides)
-43% No effect on booking (lower than I would have thought)

5. Important Content to Planning Cycle:
-Images:
-Info on Activities and Events
-Written descriptions of the destination
-Maps
-Weather
-Travel info (currency/border info. etc.)
-Video Content: (lower in importance – only 25% of respondants *note: Video is not considered important to research, but may act to make the website more engaging.)

7. Negative Experiences online include:
Confusing websites: 65% (make sure you are focusing on Website Usability best practices and test your site for ease of use)
Insufficient photos: 51%

**Content not bookable online only 35% felt this was a negative

Conclusions/Summary:

  • ‘Content is still king’: add good content to sites to not only inform and inspire customers but also to attract them through natural search. Content also plays an important role in the user’s experience on websites, which impacts on conversion rates and loyalty.
  • As users continue to embrace social media to connect with friends, and view friends recommendations as very influential in making travel buying decisions-  Social media will have a role to play in how friends can influence each other’s travel plans. Through Twitter’s ‘what are you doing?’ Facebook’s status updates, Flickr’s photo sharing and beyond, it is getting increasingly easy to share experiences and thereby influence the travel plans of others.

[tags]frommers travel survey, tourism marketing statistics, travel marketers, tourism marketing, social media marketing,destination marketing, web marketing, website usability[/tags]

Online revealed Niagara Falls 2009 begins!

I have spent the morning thus far updating LinkedIn, Twitter and various Facebook communities welcoming delegates to Niagara Falls (home to the 4th annual Canadian internet marketing event), posting links to the Conference mobile agenda.

www.QuickMobile.com/online, updating the Online Revealed Twitter page, and reminding those who could not attend to follow (and join!) the Twitter conversation remotely using a twitter tag #orc09.

Chick Note: adding this tag to a Tweet will allow you to post comments to Twitter which will be added to the ORC chat room like discussion that will ensue when conference attendees post updates to Twitter.com, and those that are following comment. You can also do a Twitter search for Online Revealed to find the updates and follow live throughout the 2 day event.

It is amazing that in just four years this Conference, which will bring together tourism professionals from all across Canada and beyond, has evolved to be a true community both online and offline.  Over 300 attendees this year will meet over the next few days in Niagara Falls to share, debate, learn and educate about marketing online while hundreds more may be learning virtually through online channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Although I will not be posting live updates to ideahatching.com, I invite you to join us in Niagara Falls over the next few days virtually!

Check out the mobile conference agenda here www.QuickMobile.com/online

For those who are not able to be in Niagara – follow us on Twitter:
www.twitter.com/orcconference – or follow my Twitter posts at www.twitter.com/acoupleofchicks

Follow the Twitter conversation here: http://www.tinker.com/event/online_revealed_canada_3
(the conference Hash Tag is #orc09 – join us!)

And if I have totally confused you and this post looks like it was written in Greek – stay tuned for Online Revealed TV (orctv.com) – we will be releasing workshop segments and discussions on our new online TV platform next month!

[tags] linkedin, social media marketing, marketing online, web marketing conference, tourism, online revealed canada conference, internet marketing community, mobile marketing [/tags]

Just another Social Media Marketing post

Travel Weekly recently published an article warning that “as the social-networking phenomenon grows, travel agencies, home-based agents, suppliers and destination marketers who sit on the sidelines may risk missing significant opportunities to engage existing customers, recruit new ones, bolster their brands, undertake market research and drive bookings“.

The article also highlighted that JetBlue has 132,000 “followers” on Twitter, while Southwest has 64,300 “fans” on Facebook.  Wow!  So now you are thinking “I don’t have the marketing budgets that Jetblue or Southwest Airlines do so what am I supposed to do now that I have an entire new media channel to manage”?

I have been seeing many articles as of late in media both online and offline that seem to be warning marketers to jump in now or miss the boat. (remember the initial .com bust?) Although many are talking about the social media phenomenon, there is not a great deal of actual step by step guidance about how to build and effectively manage an online community (or a group of communities that may exist on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, You Yube and Linked In), but simply pointing out that it is time to jump in or else.

I did like this article I read online by the Lake Tahoe Daily Tribune (a local print newspaper) that outlined some real world social media marketing examples such as the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course which has a Web site, but also manages accounts with Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.  Good for the Tribune for highlighting some local real world success stories and good for the Edgewood Golf course for stepping into social media marketing but also pointing out that this new marketing channel is time consuming (and therefore not free or easy).
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In saying all of this, I have been tardy with my Blog updates as of late as  I have been actively tweeting and managing communities for both A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing and Online Revealed on Facebook, Twitter. (Patricia took LinkedIn – this is no job for one chick!)  We are also just finishing up Part Two of our article Series Moving your Social Media Strategy to the Suburbs which will break down our approach to creating a true social media community.

Our 4th annual Online Revealed internet marketing conference is also less than one month away! We are holding this year’s event in Niagara Falls, Canada and will have real people speaking about real case studies and how-to tactics to using social media (and other online marketing strategies) to market your business. We are really excited to have speakers from Google, Tripadvisor, and from real world companies (no offense to our friends at google and tripadvisor!!) like Sequel Hotels and Resorts (a small management company specializing in boutique hotels in Canada), and other operators who will share tips about successful tactics they have used to market themselves online.

[tags]social media marketing, tourism marketing, travel weekly, social networking, twitter, new media, social media community [/tags]

All Twittered out?

I find lately that I am starting to micro-Blog on forums such as Twitter and Facebook, which allows we to quickly share idea’s or good articles I read, but it is also taking up so much time that I have less time to focus on good content and getting that content to you.

I even made the comment today on my chicks Twitter page that  Social networking was beginning to feel like a never ending cocktail party “ without the cocktails!” (to which I immediately got the response from one of my “followers” that Tweets are more fun over drinks!)

I must say that these social networks have made connecting with people easy and fun, and the speed of which I can learn about all of the latest things going on in the online marketing world has been accelerated like I could never have imagined. I knew today that Facebook would be updating many of their functionalities and profiles today hours before it went live.  I was also able to hear what others were saying about the updates through discussion boards and chat rooms (yes very distracting but interesting non the less!)

I did read a fantastic article today from www.clickz.com about the new consumer revolution and how digital behavioural marketing is the secret to success that I would love to break down for you but I think after about 20 tweets, a few photo uploads to Facebook, a couple of LinkedIn connection updates and some “friend’s” Happy birthday wishes I am all talked out!

So check us out on www.twitter.com/acoupleofchicks , www.twitter.com/orcconference and on Facebook too! Might just have to meet you there more often!

[tags] twitter, social networking, behavioural marketing, clickz.com, facebook social marketing, social media strategy [/tags]

My take on twitter so far… and getting back to the basics of your online presence!

I have now been a semi faithful Tweeter since November.  I started actively tweeting at the Phocuswright conference in November (really more out of peer pressure than anything). I did enjoy being a part of the community of people commenting on the conference and I started to see the point of the whole thing.  I have since continued to twitter daily and could very easily be distracted with posts if I let myself.

I have been building my network of those I am  following and those who are following me (really it is not as creepy as it sounds). I can now say that I get the concept and how Twitter has gained its popularity so quickly.  I have made some interesting connections with people, and I have gained some great insights into topics I am interested in. It is a really fun networking tool and it can really help bring traffic to your web assets because let’s face it, at the end of the day we need traffic to our cash registers.

A few things that I have uncovered that get lost in translation in the world of Twitter:
Facebook profile updates and Tweets are not the same thing and do not translate well (I have had many Facebook friends ask me what language I speak when I am posting a note from Twitter to my facebook profile).  (I have since removed that application).
-It takes time to build a network of people worth following
-there is a lot of  noise between good posts
-it can be very distracting to monitor and engage in a conversation that never ends!

Using social media tools such as Twitter can offer marketers direct access to a base of customers that they may not otherwise be able to reach.  With the economic times as they are however, I would recommend resources to be allocated towards the following online tactics, and in this order before starting a full out social media marketing strategy that includes Twitter, facebook, YouTube or any other channel.  Without a solid foundation, and a solid transactional asset (the website), the new tools can be simply a distraction.

1. Ensure the Website is fully optimized for both search engines and users. (look at SEO programs and ensure all content and creative is up to date, search engine friendly, and most importantly leads your consumers to transact).
2.Set up or spend some dollars looking at your Web Analytics data to ensure you are capturing your users, engaging them, and then leading them to transact. (You may still have some work to do to ensure that your website is strong before you start developing a Facebook group)
3.Get a solid Web distribution strategy in place for the year (with resources allocated to content development, SEO, search engine marketing tactics such as Pay Per Click or Google local, and online PR to generate buzz for your company and or your widget).
4.Ensure that your ecommerce tools are working.  Does your online booking system need an upgrade? Is your e-newsletter working effectively to drive business? It is great to get a whole whack of new traffic, but if they are leaving your shopping cart to early what’s the point?

Now that I have finished writing this post, I will update my Twitter page and my Facebook profile with a link to the post.  I should really also update my Linkedin profile…and then maybe take a nap, all of this social networking is exhausting and I haven’t even spoke to anyone in 2 hours!

[tags] twitter, social media marketing, SMM, web strategy, internet marketing tactics,online PR, online marketing[/tags]

Chicks win Hotelier Magazine Supplier of the Year

Last week Patricia and I were honoured with the Pinnacle award for Supplier of the Year for Hotelier Magazine, a leading industry publication in Canada.   The awards are industry selected, and then voted on by a board of directors. Over the past 20 years Kostuch Publications, publisher of both Foodservice and Hospitality, and Hotelier Magazine’s have honoured others including Starbucks Canada; Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser of Inniskillin Wines Inc., and Four Seasons Hotels founder Isadore Sharp to name a few. We are humbled and excited to be placed in such company after only 3 years!
 

The most significant part of winning this award is the fact that the tourism industry is so progressive as to name an Internet Marketing firm as supplier of the year.  Especially an Internet Marketing firm with a name like A Couple of Chicks!  We would like to thank our team of “Chicks” and all of our clients and friends who have supported us along the way.  Now it’s time to get back to this thing we do!
 

[tags] hotelier magazine, online marketing, internet marketing, tourism marketing, Kostuch publications, awards, foodservice and hospitality [/tags]
 

PhoCusWright Bloggers Summit re-cap

PhocusWright 2008 is unfolding and after the culture shock of being in Hollywood has finally started to wear off, I am starting to get in the grove. I spoke on a panel of Bloggers yesterday, and usually when I do this we are speaking to an audience of non-bloggers trying to understand why and how we do it.

The session was more than 90% full-time bloggers, and they came back for both sessions. This leads me to conclude one of two things; they were looking to connect with their Blogger comrades, or two, they were hoping that we might be the ones to translate what a blogger needs back to the marketing folks.

Strangely enough, there were only about a handful of tourism suppliers (that raised their hands anyway) that were attending the session to learn about how to engage bloggers. (as Bloggers at this conference we are lumped in with traditional media which is interesting) 

Below is a quick re-cap of the discussion for those of you who are wondering how to capitalize on this new media channel. If you are going to “pitch” a blogger in the hopes that they will start to talk about your brand:

1. Make sure you have the right Blogger…there are so many Niche blogs out there that not every story makes sense. (spamming a blogger is not cool)

2. Have a plan and something worth talking about.

3. Don’t try to control the conversation. If you are going to start planting your brand message into social communities, you should go in knowing that this is not an advertising channel – a good blogger is very much like a traditional journalist, and will only talk about what inspires them.

4. I would recommend if you are really going to dive into Social media marketing, first observe it and then jump in. I am sure my fellow bloggers would add to these points, we were a bit of a motley crew! 

[tags] phocuswright conference, blogging, social media marketing, social communities, tourism suppliers, tourism blog[/tags]

TripJane.com using social media as the distribution channel

I just sat down with Dani Essindi, co-founder of Tripjane.com, a new online travel agency that intends to use only social media websites such as Facebook, Linked In and MySpace to connect user reviews with bookable travel like flights and hotels.

What suprises me the most is that non of the other big boys like Orbitz.com, Expedia or Travelocity have jumped into this space. Yes – they have social media apps, but non of them incorporate trip planning, reviews, transaction and itinarary building – using your personal network connections as the “trusted” sources of reviews.  The transaction actually occurs without leaving Facebook (or Linked In, MySpace or whatever social network you are using).

TripJane is officially launching on December 2/08, but the beta is up and ready to go with inventory for flights. (you can even customize your research process filtering out airlines, times etc.) Once fully launched the app will have Hotel inventory, itinarary building, and integration with your regular profile page. (This would be ideal for me as I drive all of my Facebook “friends” crazy with random images of my travels that seem to just appear on my Facebook page without any relevant “story” of where I am and what I am doing!)

Why do I think this will grow? Co-Founder Dani Essindi said it best – just “go where the users are” – sorry if I am giving away any trade secrets Dani! 

[tags]  tripjane, trip jane, social media, travel planning, travel itinarary, travel trends, phocuswright, usergenerated content, online travel agency [/tags] 

PhoCusWright Conference 2008 – Day 1 in Hollywood

Day One of the 2008 PhoCusWright 2008 Conference (my first PhoCusWright Conference) and the Travel Innovation Summit has begun.
 

Presentations from Emerging Travel software companies that are creating Web 2.0 travel planning solutions including rezgo.com, Travelbeen.com, Tripit.com, TripJane.com (one of my favourites already – love the name and it is the first travel agency inside Facebook offering booking capability and search as well as the word of mouth recommendations), Tripit.com (I actually planned this trip using Tripit.com – it combined all of my travel reservation confirmations and served back an itinerary to my Outlook and Blackberry).  Looks like many solutions focussed around Social Media applications. 

 

PhoCusWright has created a real time voting platform that will judge and rank these innovators with the winners to present at the Centre Stage event in front of 900 plus Travel industry leaders on Tuesday. 
 

I am meeting with some fellow bloggers now in preparation for the Bloggers Summit tomorrow.  I will be a good active Blogger this week so stay tuned to updates from Hollywood!

 

[tags] PhoCusWright, travel conference, tripit, tripjane, social media marketing, travel innovation summit [/tags]

 

A Tourism blog is born and chicks in Hollywood!

So although I have led three online marketing workshops this month and each time have advised all audiences of the great commitment required to be a good Blogger – I have been a bad blogger!  I feel like I am 12 again and I have been neglectful in writing in my diary!  It has not been for lack of content – simply lack of time I am afraid, but I am back in action with much to cover!

My most recent post which detailed my thoughts on surviving in a tough economic environment unfortunately still seems to be relevant.  In saying that, I will practice what I preach and not focus on the negative, but what we as marketers can do about it!

On blogging specifically (because it seems that the hot topic out there is Social Media Marketing and how do we do it), I have had numerous discussions with active Bloggers this month, and once again I must suggest that before you launch a Blog (simply because your neighbour has one) that you clearly outline a plan, purpose, and identify who will be the “voice” behind the blog.

We recently launched a new Niagara Falls Tourism Blog, which is authored by a gentleman by the name of George Bailey, who is known in the community as “Mr. Niagara Falls.”  Niagara Falls newest Blogger has a passion for Niagara history, people and the region – and coincidentally can write a good account of a story that he was either personally involved in or has researched extensively.  Mr. “Niagara Falls” has personally lived and worked in Niagara his whole life.  He is authentic and genuine in his accounts of the people that have visited the iconic destination (he has toured the likes of Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe), knowledge of little known historical facts, and love for the region.  I will be excited to see how this Blog develops moving forward.

With Blogging on my mind, I have to let you know that I will be at the PhoCusWright Conference 2008 in Hollywood, California later this month (Chicks in Hollywood!!!),  sitting on a Bloggers panel , with other travel Bloggers from around the globe.  I am thrilled to be sitting on the panel and will definitely be doing some blogging while I am there.  We will be discussing topics such as cross platform social technologies (how do we manage all of these online conversations across channels like Twitter, Facebook and the Blogosphere?), why these trends are critical to your branding, and where this fits within your overall marketing strategy.

Once again, as I have said time and again and will reiterate on the panel – add your “social media marketing plan” to your mix, but only with a plan in place (including budget, resources etc.), and only if it makes sense to your business – because take it from me, it is not as easy as it looks! 

[tags] tourism blog, social media marketing, internet marketing strategy, phocuswright conference, facebook marketing, online marketing workshops[/tags]
 

 

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
alicia.whalen@gmail.com
905-401-2249

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