If you are a travel affiliate that specializes in marketing hotels and resorts, according to iPerceptions, you’re missing-out on a lot of potential bookings.  In its just-released Hospitality Industry Report Q2 2009, iPerceptions says that hotel/resort focused websites miss sizeable opportunities to convert ‘lookers’ into ‘bookers’, as on average, while on a hospitality related website, 4 in 10 would-be bookers click away without completing a transaction.

iPerceptions is a leading web-focused research and analytics firm that provides website marketers with strategic and tactical decision support aimed at improving bookings, customer satisfaction and loyalty.  The Company conducts several ongoing studies and surveys in multiple industries, with the Hospitality Industry Report focused on the lodging vertical.

According to iPerceptions, the methodology underpinning their Hospitality Industry Report Q2 2009 enables them to identify the most important issues and trends facing the online hospitality industry.  Data contained in their quarterly reports includes aggregated information and real-time feedback from more than 123,000 visitors, all of which is obtained from their enterprise solution webValidator and free 4Q studies that have been deployed on hundreds of hospitality related websites.

Key findings from their most recent report include:

  • Hospitality related websites are “…still struggling to convert on booking intent… Only 60% of would-be bookers actually completed a reservation during the course of their visits”
  • Although “…cost sensitivity plays a role in this drop-off,” iPerceptions notes that their “…data suggests that the barriers to conversion have more to do with usability and technical hurdles.”
  • Furthermore, more than 40% of would-be bookers “…reported that they abandoned the booking process because of a usability problem with the booking engine or because of a technical or navigation issue in another section of the website.”

Noting that travel marketers must improve their sites in such a way that they engage – and convert – their online consumers, Claude Guay, CEO of iPerceptions also pointed out in the Company’s press release announcing the survey that: “Although the hospitality industry is a pioneer and one of the largest online industries, there is much room for improvement.  Social media and peer networks are changing the way consumers find and interact with hospitality brands online.”

The full report, which can be accessed in PDF form here, provides hospitality marketers and travel website operators with additional intelligence, insights and recommendations that can be used to improve conversion rates, and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. Here are several examples of topics covered in the report:

  • Specific insight into who is coming to hospitality sites, why they are there, and which marketing and advertising channels are most effective at delivering site traffic.
  • User group comparisons, including business travelers, leisure travelers and first-time visitors, as well as different purposes of visit such as: make a reservation, research and compare rates, and find hotel information.
  • An introduction to iPerceptions’ iPSI (iPerceptions Satisfaction Index) and new benchmark data on customer satisfaction, both overall and broken down by 10 key attributes, including relevancy, convenience, and ease of use.

While a relatively new company (founded in 2000), iPerceptions has developed a rather enviable reputation in the online market research space; their client list includes major travel brands like Hyatt, Hilton Garden Inns, Sol Melia, InterContinental Hotels, Days Inns, Choice Hotels, as well as other notable non-travel brands such as Dell, BMW, Monster, Samsung, Nissan, Sony.  If the company you keep is any indication of quality, then iPerceptions is clearly doing something right.

TravelDividends urges all of our readers who are travel affiliate marketers or work for hospitality companies and related resellers to download a copy of iPerceptions’ survey and assess how the information, insights and recommendations contained therein can be used to improve your business. TravelDividends applauds iPerceptions’ for their willingness to share such quality research and analysis with the greater travel industry.

If you have any thoughts or comments about iPerceptions’ survey that you’d like to share with your fellow readers, please feel free to leave a comment.  Many thanks.