Everyone knows, or thinks they know, a lot about OTA customers: They’re value conscious, brand agnostic shoppers who spend a lot of time searching online for the perfect hotel or vacation situation. Those things are true, and when it comes to their impact on your hotel, here are a few more things you should know.
1. OTA customers are primarily leisure travelers (89 percent). According to the U.S. Travel Association, leisure travel represented a total spend of $621.4 billion in 2013, nearly three times the $265 billion spent on business travel including meetings, events, and incentives. More than 75 percent of the domestic trips taken in 2013 were for leisure purposes. (U.S. Travel Answer Sheet)
2. OTA customers are young. Thirty-six percent of OTA customers are between the ages of 25 and 39, a blend of Gen X and millennials. What do we know about those customers?
- Nearly 50 percent of millennials and almost 40 percent of those ages 31-45 have planned and/or booked travel using a smartphone, according to Expedia’s 2013 Future of Travel report. In fact, only 18 percent of people under 30 have NOT used a mobile device for travel.
- Travel market reports tells us that millennials guests are accustomed to using mobile devices and rely heavily upon traveler reviews for both shopping and booking. They favor urban destinations over resorts and tend to travel in groups, often in pursuit of an interest.
- Expedia data also shows that millennials tend to be less brand loyal than their parents, although they do like loyalty programs and will share personal data to receive perks and other bonuses. They also are more likely than their over-40 coworkers to spend company money on room service (37 percent vs. 21 percent) when traveling for business.
3. OTA customers are tech savvy. Currently, about 20 percent of Expedia’s demand comes from travelers using mobile devices (tablets or smartphones). eMarketer forecasts that $145 billion in travel will be booked over mobile devices in 2014.
4. OTA customers value convenience when shopping for their travel. More than 50 percent of customers booking a hotel on an OTA also booked plane tickets and 38 percent also rented a car in the preceding three months. OTA customers are also more likely to book where they can get a package deal than customers who usually book directly with the brand (46 percent vs. 26 percent) and 50 percent cite some convenience factor for using an OTA for their booking needs. Customers who book their flight and hotel together in a package stay twice as long, book twice as far in advance, and cancel half as often as those who only book a hotel room.
5. OTA customers come from the four corners of the world. Expedia customers come from more than 70 countries worldwide, including four of the fastest growing sources of international travelers: China, Brazil, Argentina, and Taiwan. In 2013, the United States greeted 69.8 million international visitors and nearly 32 million of them came from outside of North America. Together, the 69.8 million guests spent $180.7 billion. By 2018, the U.S. Travel Association estimates that the United States will host 85 million international visitors per year. (Office of Travel and Tourism Industries – Forecast of International Travel)
6. OTA customers recognize brand value. While they may not be loyal to one particular brand, OTA customers do like to book with familiar chains (82 percent).
7. OTA customers try new things. Sixty-two percent of OTA customers report that they like to try out different hotels.
Adam Anderson is director of industry relations at Expedia. Data referenced in this article is Expedia first-party data unless otherwise notated.
Photo credit: Young Couple with Tablet via Bigstock