Leisure travellers who book hotel rooms online are younger and show less brand loyalty, according to a new study.
The joint report, conducted by data provider Adara and travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt, surveyed online bookings in the US in 2013, analysing consumer demographics and behaviour patterns.
Of the key findings, the report found that 33% of hotel leisure guests are now categorised as in the ‘Gen Y’ age bracket, between 24-36 years of age, while 10% are 18-23.
And this reduced age appears to correlate with a decline in brand loyalty. Only 40% of travellers said they feel loyalty to any travel brand, and even those belonging to a hotel loyalty programme shop around extensively before booking.
Adara’s data showed that ‘elite’ members of a loyalty scheme average nine searches outside of the hotel chain they book, while lower tiers average 11 searches.
Meanwhile, the report found that online travel agencies are an effective way to reach “impulse” buyers. Travellers who book on OTA sites do so just 10 days in advance of their trips, compared to a lead time of 25 days on hotel websites. Two in three hotel respondents own a smartphone and 44% own a tablet device.
“In 2014, hotel chains face a fiercely competitive environment on the web,” Harteveldt said. “Their customers are becoming more demographically fragmented and most don’t belong to a hotel loyalty programme. So hoteliers really need to know who their customers are and understand them on a deeper level. They have to earn their customers’ loyalty and fight for every booking.”
The study was based on a three-month analysis of Adara’s shopping, booking, loyalty programme and mobile data, derived from more than one billion travel transactions.
While the report was confined to travellers in the US, the results are likely to be relevant to international markets, including Asia, where smartphone and OTA penetration is increasing rapidly.