Hotel Marketing Podcast Episode 197: Major Traveler Shifts Unveiled In Expedia’s Latest Traveler Value Index

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Expedia Group just released their Traveler Value Index, which looks at traveler behavior changes in our post-COVID world.  Approximately 8,000 adults 18+ were surveyed across the globe (US, Canada, Mexica, UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia) in Mid April of this year.

Get The Expedia Traveler Value Index 2021 Study Here.

The good news is that at the time of release the data is looking fantastic and, all things being constant, the rest of 2021 and going into 2022 will very likely continue to shatter records.  However, the uptick of COVID news and worries has a good chance of derailing the findings of this report and the current growth trend we are all enjoying.

We’re going to dig into the report today and share the good, and bad.  And, since we have a love/hate relationship with Expedia, we picked three things we love and three things we hate.  

What is the Traveler Value Index? 

Expedia chose seven values that they determined shape how today’s traveler makes decisions and ranked those by importance:

  1. Ability to get a full refund
  2. Atypical, low pricing
  3. Contactless experience
  4. Environmentally friendly policies
  5. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection
  6. Flexible policies to change bookings
  7. First-class benefits and upgrades

Expedia also recently came out with a “what travelers want in 2021” study which is linked here we discuss later.

Things We Love About The Expedia Traveler Value Index

#1 Love:

  • Pete: 3/4 of travelers are likely to travel to a place they’ve never visited before.  Great opportunity for smaller destinations, and properties, to make a mark.  Combine this with the fact that 41% of users are looking to maximize weekend getaways or short trips.
    • Consider marketing closer in to attract guests who are in driving distance (60% are wanting to stay close to home)
  • Phil: 75% of travelers are likely to select a destination they’ve never been to before
    • Okay, hoteliers. Here is your opportunity. We’ve preached for years about making each guest a return guest. You are likely to see a bunch of new faces over the next year or two so make sure from the moment someone books, you are working to get them to return for another trip. 

#2 Love:

  • Pete: 54% of travelers won’t book until they trust the provider. 
    • Pay attention to reviews
    • deliver great service
    • be smart about your social and email targeting to your pre-booking audiences
  • Phil: 89% of travelers want to see info or features of the surrounding location
    • This may seem obvious but we’ve encountered many hotel websites that do not contain enough of this type of information, and if they do, it’s not displayed prominently on the site. Here is great content opportunity for your hotel website not only to provide valuable information to your site visitors, but also to increase brand awareness by drawing in potential guests searching for specific things around your hotel. (from the what Travelers Want in 2021 study)

#3 Love:

  • Pete: Everyone wants, no… DEMANDS, the ability to get a full refund
    • This is far more important for your over 40 guests, but is expected to be a standard
    • Travel is a top priority and guests are throwing their money at it.
  • Phil: 70% said they would be willing to pay more for their favorite amenities and services. The #1 amenity that people would pay extra for would be a spa treatment. If your hotel offers spa treatments make sure that add-on is easily booked while booking the hotel and if they don’t book it right away, make sure you are including that add-on in your pre-arrival email to get into that second wallet. We know not all hotels have spas but that doesn’t mean your hotel can’t partner with a local spa. While this type of partnership may not be incredibly profitable, it could make the guests’ experience much more memorable and you will be more likely to receive positive reviews. (from the what Travelers Want in 2021 study)

Things We Hate About The Expedia Traveler Value Index

#1 Hate:

  • Pete: The 8000 respondents are from around the globe and looked at very holistically.  This is a big mistake in my mind and I would have liked the ability to drill down to each specific country/market.  This also suggest the survey should have been done collected a much higher number of responses. I would love to be able to see the questions asked, not just the analysis.
  • Phil: Though I did not participate in the survey, and no idea of how the questions were worded, I have a feeling that some of these data points need to be taken with a grain of salt. I don’t think anyone would have responded that would be less likely to stay if a hotel showed inclusivity or environmentally friendly practices. 

#2 Hate:

  • Pete: I would caution readers to “read too much into” the generational data.  
  • Phil: Expedia was a little self-serving here. They asked questions about the importance of booking accommodations and transportation all in one transaction. They also asked about the importance of a site that offers a high number of listings. These things just aren’t attainable for the average hotel website so it seems like Expedia is using the study to generate more participation on their platform. While this is to be expected, I’m still adding to my “hate it” list.

#3 Hate:

  • Pete: It seems that the report has some political/social pandering with pages dedicated to environmentally sensitive policies, inclusive policies, and others.  This seems leading and creates data that can send a hotelier down the wrong path.  For instance, one of the findings was people were eager to book at properties with environmentally sensitive policies, of course we all are.  However was this organically revealed or was the respondent lead toward that answer with a question such as, “Would you prefer a property care about the earth?”
  • Phil: The focus on “enhanced cleaning”. We discussed this during our consumer sentiment studies as well. Everyone seems to want it but no one defines what exactly it means. I’m not saying that cleanliness isn’t important. I’m just saying that it should be expected instead of valued to a point where someone would pay more for it. 

Interested in making your own love/hate list? Download the Expedia Traveler Value Index Study here.

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60 Seconds To Success

Pay attention to your competition. Pay attention to what they are doing both online and offline. 

Online: Pay attention to age and user friendliness of their websites. Pay attention to the online offers and incentives they are promoting. Evaluate their online bookings process vs your own and identify where your site may be causing friction. Secondarily, look at your reviews vs your competitor’s reviews and see how people talk about their stay at your hotel vs stays at competitor hotels. Also pay attention to the OTA booking experience. Note the psychological triggers they use to entice someone to book now and brainstorm ways to use similar triggers on your site and/or booking engine. 

Offline: Visit your local competitor hotels. Even book a stay with them and take notes of everything from the booking experience to how you are greeted, front desk procedures, in-room amenities. When you find something you like, start figuring out how you can implement it at your property. 

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Newsaroos:

The First Space Hotel Scheduled to Open in 2027: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/379405

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Submit your questions and topic ideas on Twitter to @_travelboom or [email protected]

IN ADDITION TO THE PODCAST WE HAVE A BUNCH OF WHITEPAPERS AND STUDIES YOU CAN DOWNLOAD HERE

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