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A barometer for travel trends

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TripAdvisor’s global study TripBarometer reveals interesting insights

TripAdvisor has revealed the results of its TripBarometer, a biannual study, conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by independent research firm StrategyOne (a division of Edelman Berland), that reports on top travel and hospitality industry trends, according to more than 35,000 travellers and accommodations around the world.

The results of the TripBarometer highlight country level, regional and global trends within the travel sector and reveal insights into economic outlook, travel planning, booking methods and traveller expectations.

Accommodations in Asia are able to look back at last year with satisfaction: 79 per cent of the over 1,600 accommodations in the region surveyed for the TripBarometer reported that 2012 was economically successful for them. In fact, 24 per cent of accommodation owners in the region went so far as to describe 2012 as ‘very profitable’.

Accommodation owners in Asia are amongst the most bullish in the world with 72 per cent of them stating that they are optimistic about their probability this year, which is slightly above the global average of 68 per cent.

  • North America 82%
  • South America 77%
  • Asia 72%
  • Africa 71%
  • Middle East 71%
  • Australasia 65%
  • Europe 54%

GLOBAL 68%

Looking at hiring trends within the global accommodation industry, 19 per cent of respondents are planning to add new jobs in 2013. According to the TripBarometer, Asian accommodations are nearly three times (32 per cent) as likely to add news jobs in 2013 as European accommodations (12 per cent).

Asian accommodations are amongst the most likely to increase their room rates in 2013, with 42 per cent of accommodation providers planning to increase rates this year.

  • South America 48%
  • North America 43%
  • Asia 42%
  • Africa 41%
  • Middle East 39%
  • Australasia 36%
  • Europe 32%

GLOBAL 40%

Opportunity for accommodations

Travellers from Africa are showing the biggest increase in their planned travel spend for 2013, with 76 per cent of respondents saying they estimate that their travel budget will increase this year. Travellers from the Middle East (75 per cent) and South America (58 per cent) also plan to spend notably more on travel in 2013. Globally, 50 per cent of travellers expect their travel spend to go up this year.

  • Africa 76%
  • Middle East 75%
  • South America 58%
  • Asia 49%
  • Australasia 44%
  • North America 44%
  • Europe 44%

GLOBAL 50%

Online channels acting as megaphone for traditional ‘word-of-mouth’

The TripBarometer reveals that 69 per cent of travellers globally use travel review websites when researching and planning their trips. Over half (62 per cent) of respondents in Asia look to travel review websites.

The three sources of information reported as being most useful by global and Asian travellers are all online sources.

  • Travel review websites 38%
  • Web based travel agencies 19%
  • Travel operator websites 16%
  • Friends and family 10%
  • Travel magazines & brochures 6%
  • Social media 4%
  • High street travel agencies 4%
  • Other 3%

With travellers going online for their travel research and planning, they are also showing preference for online as the primary booking channel. Globally, the majority of travellers are booking accommodation via web-based travel agencies (27 per cent), closely followed by accommodations’ own websites (23 per cent).

Business owners report their own website as the channel that generates the most bookings (35 per cent) for them, followed by online travel agencies (18 per cent). The data paints a slightly less positive story for store front travel agencies, with nine per cent of travellers booking their last accommodation through an offline travel agent.

Looking strictly at the results for Asian accommodations, 28 per cent report their own website as the channel that generates the majority of their bookings, followed by online travel agencies (24 per cent) and their own mobile app (13 per cent).

The results of the TripBarometer reveal that travel review websites have the biggest influence on travellers’ decisions when choosing a hotel: 95 per cent of Asian travellers indicated that other people’s reviews and opinions on travel review websites have influenced their decision to book accommodations for their last trip. Not surprisingly, a majority (97 per cent) of accommodations in the region perceived online reviews to be of crucial importance for generating bookings.

Asian properties in control of their online reputation

According to the TripBarometer, 31 per cent of Asian travellers claim to have written a review about the accommodation they stayed at after a trip. It is not surprising that a majority (91 per cent) of Asian accommodations indicated that they are taking active control of their online reputation by monitoring traveller reviews online.

Asian accommodations consider both guest rants and raves equally valuable feedback. Properties in the region are proactive in responding to both positive and negative online reviews with 71 per cent of them responding to positive reviews and 78 per cent responding to negative reviews, either online or in private.

Good staff performance does not go unnoticed with over half (65 per cent) of Asian properties indicating that they have congratulated or rewarded staff as a result of positive online reviews.

Guest feedback is taken seriously by Asian accommodations with 66 per cent indicating that they have addressed the content of a negative review with the staff involved and a further 57 per cent having invested in staff training on account of receiving a negative online review.

“With travel review websites as the biggest influence on travellers’ decisions when choosing a hotel, it’s encouraging to see hotels in Asia taking immediate action to manage their online reputation by engaging with past guests and the wider traveller community through management responses to online reviews,” said Lewis Ng, commercial director APAC, TripAdvisor for Business. “One of the best ways to generate more traveller reviews is to simply ask hotel guests to share their travel experiences online.”

Accommodations not meeting travellers’ mobile expectations

According to the TripBarometer, 79 per cent of Asian travellers think it is beneficial that properties allow them to book accommodation via a mobile device. Similarly, when asked, three quarters of accommodations in Asia (74 per cent) think it is important to allow guests to book their property on a mobile device.

However, despite the perceived importance of mobile booking capabilities and consumer demand for this, just three in ten (29 per cent) Asian properties currently engage with guests via mobile devices. Of those that do engage with travellers via mobile, 67 per cent allow guests to book rooms on mobile devices, 39 per cent have a mobile friendly website and 25 per cent have special offers for mobile device users.

“With consumers turning to online channels at every step of the travel planning process, we’re experiencing an increase in direct bookings through our hotel website which not only enhances our bottom line but allows us to manage the customer relationship end-to-end,” said Kevin Croley, senior vice president at Pan Pacific Hotels Group. “Also, as consumers are now spending more time on their mobile phones than ever before, travellers are expressing a growing preference to conduct business transactions from their own mobile devices. Recognising this growing trend and the opportunity to capture market share amongst consumers booking accommodations via digital devices, Pan Pacific is investing more resources into mobile websites and other digital marketing initiatives.”

“The TripBarometer has revealed useful insights into what global travellers are planning and shone a light on the areas where accommodation providers can do more to meet guests’ expectations,” said Christine Petersen, president, TripAdvisor for Business. “With travellers choosing digital channels for their travel planning and research, traditional word of mouth has been amplified and online booking has become the norm across the globe. The next logical step is mobile, especially considering that travellers in some emerging markets are bypassing desktops and getting online for the first time using mobile devices. Furthermore, as business optimism and travel budgets increase across Asia, it seems likely that hospitality businesses in the region will benefit from this positive sentiment.”

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