Brands view search as best means of driving bookings through their own sites
Online travel consumers are known to conduct in-depth research, evidenced by the fact that they visited more than 17 travel sites and employed more than four travel searches on average before booking a hotel, according to Google and Compete’s “Key Travel Themes, Q4 2012” study of US consumers.
Along this winding path to purchase, organic search is most often the last exposure before a conversion, according to a report on the US and Europe by IgnitionOne. As a result, hotel companies place special emphasis on owning their brand keywords.
According to L2 Think Tank and SapientNitro’s “Digital IQ Index: Hotels,” in December 2012, nearly half (46%) of first-page organic search results for worldwide upscale hotel brand keywords belonged to brands themselves, as opposed to OTA sites or TripAdvisor links, among others.
Twenty-four of the 57 brands L2 Think Tank analyzed for the study owned more than 50% of their first-page search results. That brands would own their own keywords may seem like a given, but there is fierce competition for those results, and hotel brands are more successful in dominating search results for their own brands than their counterparts in any other retail category. Only specialty retail and beauty brands owned more than one-third of their first-page organic search results.
Amidst changes to Google’s algorithms and consolidation among online travel agencies and media companies, travel search results continue to be a more competitive touchpoint along the path to purchase. Hotel brands are jockeying to keep pace by dominating search results and driving customers directly to their sites to book.