Location–based mobile is hoteliers’ best defence against online travel agents says new whitepaper from Crafted
The huge rise in location-based mobile searches offers hoteliers their best chance of recapturing bookings lost to online travel agents (OTAs), suggests the findings of a new whitepaper from independent digital agency Crafted.
With the use of terms such as “closest”, “near me” and “nearby” increasing by a factor of 34 since 2011, and 80 per cent of these searches conducted on mobile handsets, Phil McEwan, head of marketing at Crafted, believes that the desire for relevant, contextual results has trumped privacy concerns, and people are sharing their locations in ever-increasing numbers.
McEwan said: “This change in behaviour has handed hotels a key weapon in their battle for margin from the OTA channel. The demands of users to have relevant, contextual information means that these geographical searches are ones that OTAs will find increasingly hard to fulfil. The sheer scale of their available inventory means also means they can’t be an expert at the local level.
“A country hotel, by contrast, would know the best local fishing or walking spots, the cosy village pub around the corner or the impressive lookout. Likewise, town centre hotels know about the best nightlife, restaurants or cultural attractions, rather than those featured in guidebooks written from afar. This local knowledge is invaluable to a searcher and challenging to deliver at the scale of an OTA.”
However, McEwan believes that it’s critical for hotels to develop an exceptional mobile experience, from browsing to booking, or the customers will return to the OTAs and their, often better, mobile-booking experiences.
He said: “Whether it’s a 30 room independent hotel or a 20 location mini-chain, by combining their local knowledge with the best digital presence, hotels can effectively reclaim margin lost to the OTA channel.”
The new whitepaper is written by Crafted chief executive Ian Miller and is now available to download for free.
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