Findings from research by Greenlight, the UK’s leading independent specialist search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) consulting firm, suggest travel consumers are not as worried about the recession as they were last year. According to its latest report, ‘Hotels March 2010’, UK consumers made 12.2 million hotel-related searches in March 2010, considerably higher than the 8.2 million made the same time last year and 7.2 million in December 2009. However, agent websites continued to be far more successful, in terms of search visibility than hotel chains.
Greenlight used industry data gathered in March to classify 356 of the most popular global destinations that people in the UK booked hotels in, and profiled which search terms they used to find hotels to each location, and how popular each search term was.
Generic searches accounted for 54% of hotel-related searches. The term ‘Hotels’ accounted for 27% of the total search volume. London was the most searched for location, with the term ‘London hotels’ accounting for 8% of all searches. In terms of destination-based terms, UK and Ireland-related keywords were most searched for, accounting for 40% (2.2 million searches) in March. Europe followed with 26% then North America with 15%.
Greenlight’s report also assessed and ranked the 60 websites, aggregators and hotel chains that were most visible in both natural* and paid search** results (hence had the greatest share of consideration), when consumers conducted hotel searches.
Of the top 10 sites in natural search, six were aggregators, three were hotel chains and one was an information site. LateRooms, Lastminute.com and TripAdvisor (.co.uk), were the top three most visible sites accounting for 68%, 51% and 50% share of voice, respectively. PremierInn, Hilton and Travelodge were the best performing hotel chains. However, of the three, only Hilton increased share of voice since Greenlight’s December report.
Across the top 120 hotel keywords, Booking.com was the most visible advertiser in March, achieving 89% share of voice through bidding on 112 keywords analysed. LastMinute and Expedia followed with 63% visibility, respectively. LowCostHolidays made huge strides, moving up 17 places to eighth position.
Consistent with Greenlight’s previous report, just one of the top 10 advertisers was a direct hotelier - Travelodge. The rest were agents or affiliates. This, in Greenlight’s view, indicates that agents continue to employ more aggressive paid search strategies than hotel chains in the industry.
Consistent with Greenlight’s previous report, Booking.com achieved the most integrated search visibility due to its high share of voice in the paid search space in particular.