Although many trips start with information gathered from internet search engines and social media sites, two “old-fashioned” information sources are still heavily used by would-be hotel guests, according to a survey released by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research.

Based on responses of 2,830 recent travelers, the social media study confirmed differences in travelers’ hotel search process depending on travel purpose. The study also outlines which types of internet site people are most likely to visit at various stages of their hotel-selection process.

The study found that the information source most frequently used by business travelers is their company’s hotel recommendations, while the top source for leisure travelers by far is the recommendations of family and friends. The study, “How Travelers Use Online and Social Media Channels to Make Hotel-choice Decisions,” by Laura McCarthy, Debra Stock, and Rohit Verma, is available at no charge from the Center for Hospitality Research.

“We found a distinct difference in the way business travelers and leisure travelers search for hotel information,” said Verma, who is a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and CHR executive director. “To begin with, most travelers cast a fairly wide net when they are gathering information for their trip. This early stage is where travelers consult social media and search engines, in addition to more traditional channels. When it’s time to book, however, travelers most frequently used hotel websites and online travel agents.”

McCarthy works on the TIG Global web marketing team, and Stock is marketing manager for Expedia. Both were seniors at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration at the time this study was conducted. “Working on this survey was a capstone to my Cornell education, and it gave me another perspective on web marketing,” said McCarthy. Added Stock, “Collaborating on a research project like this was perfect experience for moving into the online travel agency business.”

Read more of this article at Cornell Hotel School

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