When travelers are choosing where to book, they interact with a number of brands, websites, and marketing channels along the way. They could be signed up to receive emails from OTAs, see television commercials by hotels, or talk to friends to get suggestions.
Throughout the customer’s journey to decision, what are the moments that help make the final purchase choice? Google analyzed millions of customer actions through Google Analytics and what they found may surprise you.
One of the first steps in a customer’s journey to decide on travel purchases is to use social media. In fact, 87% of travelers under 34 consult social media for travel inspiration. Google refers to this early social media use as an assist interaction, helping customers gain awareness of your brand.
Social media is a unique medium in that it is a part of the customer’s entire journey. 45% of social media’s influence on booking decisions occurs in the beginning of the traveler’s journey. During this time, travelers can gain awareness about your hotel brand through your social media content. They could also learn about your hotel by seeing their friends interact with your hotel on Facebook or Twitter.
While the initial impact of social media on booking decisions comes as an assist interaction in the beginning, social media also plays an equally significant role in the middle of a customer’s journey. By being active during the middle part of the journey, you remind the customer about your hotel, even in the presence of other channels like email marketing and display advertising. This can help boost traveler interest in your hotel, which is why we recommend sharing information about amenities and your local area.
Perhaps most importantly in this path to decision, Google found that in the travel industry, the last interaction before purchase is direct traffic to a website. By using social media to be top-of-mind to travelers, you can encourage customers to complete transactions directly on your website – not on fee-charging OTA websites.
Google research indicates that 11% of social media’s influence on the traveler’s buying decision happens at the end of their journey. That’s why referrals from social media to your booking engine are essential.
If Google’s research isn’t enough to convince you of the value of social media to attract guests, then you can now use Facebook to drive bookings more directly than before. Facebook’s new business page redesign puts an Action Button front and center of your page. Set this to the Book Now option, and visitors to your Facebook page can simply click the button to be directed to your reservations page. You can track how many people are clicking this on your Facebook Insights.
By being present online where future customers are as they’re planning their trip, you can be a helpful resource on their journey. Plus, social media interactions can make you more memorable – even when travelers are sent messages across other channels by competitors. With booking apps and action buttons on your profile, it’s easier than ever to attract fee-free direct bookings on social media. We set up all of our social media customers with booking integrations on Facebook, which work seamlessly with our SEO-friendly websites.
To learn how social media can drive more bookings for you, request a demo of our affordable social solution today!