As an industry, we have always looked at shopping vs. buying trends online to understand consumer behavior leading up to the point of sale (reservation confirmation). In today’s economy, the shopping process is more critical than ever as consumers are looking for the best deal before purchasing. With ‘staycations’ becoming increasingly popular because of the low cost and avoidance of high fuel prices, marketers are hard pressed to compose and distribute distinctive special offers.According to a survey conducted by Loudhouse and RightNow, price is more important than brand in an economic decline.
Consumers are more willing to sacrifice brand loyalty for a ‘good deal’ when the economy is weakened. What does this mean for marketers? It’s time to focus on promoting value added offers that offer convenience to consumers. With the significant amount of shopping that takes place online before the point of sale, these offers should be prominently displayed on your website and on other channels that your guest would likely shop.
As always, rate parity across all channels is a critical element to maintaining rate integrity. Consider offering an incentive to encourage the customer to book on the lowest cost channel (typically your website directly).In a study by Prospectiv, research showed 72.2 percent of internet users in the U.S. named the web as their primary source for travel research in June 2008.
With these numbers consistently growing, it is essential for marketers to distribute useful travel information to their consumers online. If you don’t already have dedicated pages on your website for each special offer, consider adding them. When possible, share your local expertise with the consumer and provide them with everything they need to understand the value you are offering to them.
 eMarketer, http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006428, 7/21/2008
Contributed by: Kimberly Ehrlich, Milestone Internet Marketing