Hotels.com and paid search drive most of summer travelers's decisions, study finds

Hotels.com drives 40% of consumer decisions, said a new study on summer travel decisions / Tom Barrett via Unsplash

37% of summer travelers said that hotels were the top service they searched for this year, a study from Adthena, an AI and machine learning-driven search intelligence firm, revealed.

Over 600 US consumers over 18 were polled, with about 27% of them looking for local attractions to explore, and 25% looking for flights.

Among the websites these consumers used to book their accommodations, Hotels.com came up top at 40%, while Trivago and Booking.com drew 34% of respondents. Kayak and Cheapflights would up on the lower end of the travel lineup with 24% and 21% respectively.

When asked about what’s been driving this bump in hotel recommendations, Ashley Fletcher, vice president of Marketing at Adthena said to The Drum: “Many waves were recently made with Google’s recent debut of its Hotel Ad buying campaigns to Google Ads. These findings underscore just how big of a player hotels are in search today.”

Unlike many consumer behaviors that have been dominated by mobile consumption, 54% of these respondents said that they preferred using their desktops to make their orders. 26% of them use mobile and desktop equally, and only 20% stick to their phones for their travel plans.

“Given how mobile-focused the industry has become over the past few years, this is definitely one of the most interesting findings in our study,” said Fletcher. “It goes to show that even though mobile is hot, the need for a multi-front approach to search is still pivotal to success.”

Search has driven a majority of consumer behavior, as 80% of respondents used search engines as the main part of their travel planning, as 32% of them said that it would take four or more searches during travel prep. 46% said that planning would take a few days before being fully set with plans.

Paid search apps helped consumers figure out where they’re to fly to next. Over 76% of respondents made purchases via paid search ads, with 17% of respondents saying that they buy from paid search ads “very often.” Just about half of the said that paid search ads were either "very helpful" or "somewhat helpful" when traveling.

Fletcher said that paid search helps consumers make their minds up on where actually to go. “With so much choice and competition available to consumers in travel it is virtually impossible to offer a one-size-fits-all, ‘hero’ campaign that appeals to everyone."

She added that travel brands need to really study their consumers. “They need to do their homework about which tactics work best and narrow in on their own strengths, what opportunities exist and then make their efforts count at optimal costs. Paid search ads are clearly an avenue travel advertisers feel works for them, and thanks to their due diligence is reaping rewards.”

The Drum Search Awards US are now open for entry — find more details on the official website.

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