HeBS is happy to present the results of the 3rd Benchmark Survey on Hotel Internet Marketing! Many of the results made a lot of sense – hoteliers were most affected by the economic environment when planning their budget, they are shifting their marketing budgets from offline to online, and they are putting more of their budget towards Paid Search as they know it works.
Here are some of the main findings from the survey:
- Hoteliers strongly believe that Internet marketing produces the best results. We asked hoteliers whether they thought Internet marketing, traditional marketing, or a mix of both produces better results and 55.7% said Internet marketing (up from 49.2% in the 08 survey and 37.7% in the 07 survey). Hoteliers are right on target as the online channel will be the only growth channel in hospitality in 2009?2010.
- Even in this current economic environment, 63% plan to increase their Internet marketing budget in 09 ? and a majority of hoteliers are planning on raising their online budget more than 15%. A larger percentage of respondents this year (33%) will be keeping their 09 budget at 08 levels. Where is the money coming from for hoteliers that are increasing their Internet marketing budget? Fifty?three percent of respondents are shifting money from offline marketing budgets.
- In the 2009 survey, we introduced ‘the economic environment’ as one of the multiple choice options when we asked hoteliers what factors they will consider in planning their 2009 budget. Not surprisingly, 81.6% of respondents said that the economy will affect their budget planning for 09. We also saw that ‘what my peers are doing’ and ‘industry averages’ had less of an influence on hotel budget planning this year.
- The types of Web 2.0 marketing initiatives planned for 09 vary greatly from 07 and 08. In previous years, hoteliers selected Surveys and Comment cards as the Web 2.0 initiatives they were planning. This year, hoteliers selected advertising on Social Media sites (i.e. TripAdvisor), creating profiles on social networks and a blog on the hotel website.
- Almost half of all respondents believe their property does NOT conform to industry’s best practices in terms of Internet marketing. While hoteliers are getting more educated about the direct online channel, many of them do not have the internal resources, bandwidth or knowledge to deal effectively with this highly dynamic field.
- This year, hoteliers overwhelmingly responded that they thought website optimization produced the best results and the highest ROIs (81.6%). Search optimization – organic search was next at 60.9%. Indeed, both website and search optimizations are the most cost effective initiatives for hoteliers in this economy.
- The percentage of hoteliers who are participating in Paid Search increased from 50% in 2008 to 59.8% in 2009. The use of Meta search and local search is also increasing year after year. Also, Web 2.0 Paid Search (e.g. TripAdvisor) was big this year as 32% of respondents are spending marketing dollars on this initiative. These responses are in par with industry practices and show that hoteliers are aware that as much as 60%?80% of traffic and bookings on hotel websites originate from the search engines.
There were many more findings not included here which you’ll have to click here to read. The good news is that this year the Online Travel Channel will be the only growth channel in hospitality and, as the survey shows, many hoteliers clearly understand that.
What do you think of the HeBS Survey results? Is there a question you would like us to ask next year that we haven’t covered in the past three surveys? We welcome your feedback!