Even though you can gather information from internet search engines and social media sites in regarding to whatever you are looking for, but there are two “old-fashioned” information sources are still heavily used by would-be hotel guests, according to a survey released by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research.
Based on responses of 2,830 recent travelers, the study confirmed differences in traveler’s hotel search process depending on travel purpose, it also outlines which types of internet site people are most likely to visit at various stages of their hotel-selection process.
The study found that the information source most frequently used by business travelers is their company’s hotel recommendations, while the top source for leisure travelers by far is personal recommendations of family and friends, followed by travel related websites, search engines, and OTAs.
When it comes to using sources to find information on hotels, it uncovered key differences between business and leisure travelers.
Businessmen and women rely heavily on search engine sites such as Bing, Yahoo and Google, as well as use sites recommended by their employers. Men edge out women slightly in their use of search engine sites, travel related websites and travel specific sites like Expedia, Priceline and Kayak. Women show more tendency to use social media sites. Although social media is ranked near the bottom of the list of influencers, less than 20%, women turn to Facebook and Myspace at a higher rate than men as they look at reviews.
Leisure travelers, on the other hand, especially women, turn to friends and families for hotel information. Nearly 60% of women and 50% of men rely on this source, follow by search engines, meta-search sites like Priceline, and travel related websites, all counting as influencers at least 40% of the time.
When comes to the comments about hotel operator, the Cornell study found that women are slightly more likely than men to post any comments at all. In overall, nearly the same number of visitors, ranking 3 out of 5, say they would post both a positive or negative comment after a hotel stay. Consumers staying at luxury or 5-star hotels say they are more likely to post comments.
For many, online search engines and recommendations from employers/friends and families help move travelers from early stage to late stage decision making. But for female travelers, social media is playing a role in deciding where to book an overnight stay.
Based on the study, social media and customer review are the essential part in many travelers information gathering process, so to boost the business, hotel operators should pay attention to positive and negative reviews and take steps to encourage recent visitors to post positive comments.