TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, recently conducted a study that aimed to examine motivational factors for travellers. The specific subject area examined was travellers researching places to stay, and TripAdvisor looked at what causes a traveller to engage with a particular website’s property pages. The study aimed to find out why travellers stay on the pages of certain property websites, and why others succeed in driving travellers away.
In order to examine this, the TripAdvisor study analysed data which included the number of reviews associated with a particular site, management responses, and photos and videos across a raft of hotel and bed and breakfast websites. By doing so, TripAdvisor intended to find out which factors most influence travellers to seek out more information about a particular property.
Responding to reviews
The study found that hotels which provide a direct management response to reviews are significantly more likely to receive a booking enquiry via TripAdvisor than those that do not respond at all. TripAdvisor found that such establishments were 21 percent more likely to field booking enquiries as a result of their proactive conduct. Properties that were able to respond to more than 50 percent of reviews increased their likelihood of receiving a booking enquiry by nearly 25 percent, in comparison to those properties which made no responses at all.
In addition, the study also found that quality photographs were of particular value to property websites. When ranking traveller engagement on hotel and bed and breakfast pages, the number of photographs provided by a particular establishment was considered to have the highest level of impact on traveller engagement. It ranked ahead of total number of reviews and managements responses in the past year. Hotel and bed and breakfast pages that feature photos in fact received 138 percent more engagement from travellers than those that didn’t have any photos.
Although photographs were demonstrated to be the key criterion, the level of engagement from travellers also significantly increased when management took the time to respond to reviews. Hotel and bed and breakfast establishments which responded to at least one review enjoyed 17 percent more engagement from travellers, in comparison to those with no management responses.
Communicating with customers
The study underlines a key concept that businesses in all industries should value extremely highly. The effectiveness with which a brand communicates and corresponds with its customers is central to relationship building, and effective digital marketing can play a critical role in ensuring that the symbiosis between business and customers is a powerful one.
A recent white paper from Silverpop, a digital marketing technology provider owned by IBM, examines the ways that consumers are being marketed to online, and how effective these attempts are at resonating with the public. Silverpop discovered that consumers essentially expect to receive two different types of content from a brand. Content should be both personalised, and relevant to individuals’ particular needs. The white paper also indicated that a raft of marketing reports all agree that building trust should be a key component of all brands' marketing strategies.
One example of a travel-related company who have recently put these recommendations into practice is Apex International in Edinburgh. The hotel chain took the time and trouble to engage with the parents of the 10 year-old boy suffering from leukaemia, offering him the opportunity to view a New Year’s firework display from within the hotel. The positive Image and relationship with customers that can be garnered from such acts of good will and consideration cannot be understated.
A platform of interaction
The example of the Apex International Hotel displays clearly the value social media as not merely a medium to deliver information to customers, but also a platform to genuinely interact with them. For travel-related businesses, there is great value value in monitoring social media, keeping in touch with customers’ needs and desires, giving quick, accurate and valuable answers to queries and requests for information, and just generally engaging with followers and customers.
Research from TripAdvisor has underlined the fact that building positive customer relationships can offer significant commercial advantages to a company, and this notion can be employed in a two-fold strategy. On the one hand, travel businesses can engage with customers directly through their own websites, and ensure that this point of contact is as slick as possible. But also social media provides an excellent opportunity to build relationships with customers, improve one's brand image, and create a genuine community which almost markets your business for you.
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