Our hotel report, From Search Engine to Booking Engine, dives into the factors that impact your property’s ideal lead time, or the time between when a user starts searching and when they book. Here are four questions to ask yourself when determining the perfect lead time for your hotel ads:
1. Who is Your Guest?
Having insight into who your guest is will allow you to understand their booking behaviors, which you can use to create unique conversations. Are you targeting a business traveler looking to book a single night stay, or a leisure traveler looking to book a stay for five or more days? Lead times between these two will differ, so it’s important that your targeted lead time and ads reflect that difference.
For example, our report indicates that the majority of travelers with an affinity to leisure begin their search 60+ days out. So, ads that depict your leisure amenities need to reach these travelers early in their path to purchase as they take more time and research before finalizing their decision. By leveraging data to understand who your guest is, you will be able to keep them coming back and convert others like them.
2. What is Your Hotel Segment?
Not only do you have to know your guest, but you also have to know the impact your hotel segment has on a guest’s path to purchase. For example, our report reveals that luxury travelers, on average, will conduct more hotel searches than economical travelers.
Why? A luxury hotel booking is usually a bigger, more costly purchase. Consequently, they want to ensure they are getting the most bang for their buck. Work hard to ensure your property is top of mind through these extra searches. Create ads that reassure the luxury traveler that your property will create the most enjoyable experience for them.
3. What are Your Guests’ Searching Behaviors?
According to a recent report published by TrustYou, 91% of travelers use search engines during their search process. Therefore, it’s imperative to have a strong SEO and SEM strategy. Position yourself well on search results, and catch their attention at the start of their hotel planning.
It’s also important to know when your guest is searching. According to our report, the majority of business-motivated travelers (58%) search last minute, while their leisure-motivated counterparts search much further in advance. Leverage data about your ideal guest to reach them with the right message at the right time.
4. What are Your Guests’ Booking Behaviors?
For US domestic hotels, the highest share of bookings happens within a week of the check-in date. However, it’s important to note the lead time will vary based on your guest.
For example, we’ve found that almost three in four travelers with business-like motivations book their hotel within a week of check-in. Only about one out of four travelers with leisure-like motivations do the same. Similar to their search habits, leisure-motivated travelers have a higher propensity to book their stay 60+ days from check-in and are likely to experience a much longer planning period.
So, what’s the perfect lead time for hotel ads? Answer: There is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, by understanding your guests, your hotel, and your guests’ behaviors, you can develop a data-driven strategy to intercept your guests on their path to book to create the one-on-one messaging they are looking for.
Download our 2018 Hotel Report for even more up-to-date insights on hotel search and booking behavior.