Recent data from Hitwise shows that there has been a 112% increase in visits to holiday rental and sharing sites such as Airbnb and Homeaway, based on 3 million online customer bookings for accommodation.
When you couple this with the difference in traffic sources for these sites to where the Hotel aggregators get referrals, a very different picture emerges. Visits to hotel aggregators come mainly from search engines and affiliate referrals; a far larger proportion of visits to holiday rental sites originate on social media channels, with lower affiliate referral rates.
When you look at the search environment, in hotel searches most terms were as expected related to “cheap” and “deal”; however, the most popular keywords for holiday rental searches were very different, around “hot tubs” or “villas”. There could of course be a couple of issues that play on this; the aggregators raison d'etre is to compare hotels by price of course, so that's just what we do with them - whereas for holiday rentals there is an assumption that the value is there and travellers are looking for the add ons.
When we look at those keywords within Publisher Discovery data, we see the same trends appearing. One of our clients in the Hotel sector has found a useful benefit in discovering and building relationships with publishers which figure strongly in the rentals sub-sector; it has helped in enabling the brand to be found for specific hotel facilities rather than just price.
The consumer decision funnel in the travel sector is certainly a different proposition to other sectors. From the outset of online booking, sites like Tripadvisor.com have given travellers 3rd party peer reviews of everything from the hotels to local tourist features. Recent Neilsen data cites that 92% of people trust a personal recommendation, with 70% trusting online recommendations from strangers (reference).
The effect of consumer reviews being published and shared across multiple social channels has potential to take control of message away from the brand into the hands of consumers. Understanding and managing this effect has come to be a central function for any marketer, particularly in the travel sector.
Managing these influencers has moved however from the 'gamification' used in Tripadvisor to become an entire channel of its own - as evidenced in the insightful presentations at the recent Influencer Marketing Days conference. The silos of PR / Affiliate / Blogger / Partner / SEO are becoming far less defined and in many places overlapping significantly and marketers who are working with this trend are the ones taking advantage of the publishers' own changing ways of working.
This is a time of huge change for consumer marketers - and nowhere more so than in travel. Those who have already moved from silo marketing to fuller integration of marketing teams are very likely to be be the ones best placed to retain control of brand, engage more effectively with audiences and win in the marketplace.
If you would like to have a review of your own brand in the affiliate and influencer space, get in touch with us and lets discuss it.