Smartphone and tablet users are upending traditional hotel booking

A new study of 2,000 consumers from market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) found that mobile, social, and online factors influence leisure travelers very differently at separate stages in the purchase journey.

Mobile devices play an important role in the initial research phase of hotel planning, but are used sparingly to book hotel stays. More than 60 percent of travelers used a mobile device- — 47 percent a smartphone — during their hotel purchase journey. But only 6 percent booked their hotel via a smartphone.

Mobile applications are used infrequently throughout the hotel purchase journey. In total, only 6 percent of shoppers used a mobile app.

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Consumer reviews trump social media in influencing research and evaluation as well as final decisions. Only 13 percent of bookers used social media during the purchase journey vs 59 percent who consulted consumer reviews.

Price comparison sites play an important role even when they are not the final purchase location. Nearly half of travelers (49 percent) used a price comparison website such as Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. Thirty-six percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

"There's no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations," said Judy Melanson, senior vice president of CMB's Travel and Hospitality practice. "We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers —delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners."


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