Navigating Traveler Behaviors: Key Insights for Hotel Marketing Pros

Stephanie Smith, CHDM, CEO and Digital Matriarch, Cogwheel Marketing, HSMAI Marketing Advisory Board Member 

Recently Expedia Group released their 2023 Q1 Traveler Insights Report. I brought this interesting piece of research to the great minds at the HSMAI Marketing Advisory Board to discuss the trends and explore if they align with what we are seeing in the industry.  

Booking Window Patterns 

While short-term bookings were common during the pandemic, many in the group have noticed a shift towards longer-term bookings. Some noted that leisure travelers are booking closer to 60 days out for some of their properties. One interesting point was that hotel bookings are being made further in advance compared to flights, indicating a flip-flop in booking patterns, especially in vacation destinations. 

Marketing to Blended Business and Vacation Travelers 

The trend of travelers adding extra days to their business trips for leisure is here to stay, with travelers adding an average of three to six days onto business trips. Parents in our group mentioned a pressure to make up for lost travel memories by combining work and leisure. 

Three ideas to effectively market to this segment:  

  1. Highlight amenities that would appeal to people staying on property for a longer time, like pools and other on-property facilities.  
  2. Leverage data to identify business travelers. 
  3. Focus on the destination rather than specific properties can also help in tailoring marketing campaigns. Partnerships with Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) can be valuable in promoting the destination, beyond just the hotel offerings. 

On Loyalty 

Member rates for loyalty programs remain successful for brands, and the research bears out that is what guests want. Another interesting take on loyalty programs was introducing Food & Beverage (F&B) options to both use and gain points, tapping into the local market. 

Experiences are Everything, Except for Airbnb 

The report indicated that experiences are still paramount. On the call, several board members mentioned having success increasing their offerings for experience. However, we discussed why Airbnb has been pulling back on experiences? Is it the lack of control operators have over quality and consistency or profitability concerns? Hotels, on the other hand, have more brand control, which may contribute to the difference in approach between hotels and Airbnb in terms of offering experiences to guests. 

Agility and strategic marketing approaches are crucial to navigate changing trends in booking patterns, flexcations, and loyalty platforms. Staying updated with the latest trends and consumer preferences is essential for hotel marketers to stay ahead in the competitive landscape. 

Further Reading:  

Understanding the Gap: Examining the differences between evolving traveler expectations and industry perceptions | HSMAI Americas 

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles