Survey: Consumer Trust in OTAs is Waning

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.—Fuel, specializing in digital hotel marketing, has announced the survey results of the 2016 Leisure Travel Trends: What Smart Hotels Need to Know. Key findings illustrate that consumer’s trust with Online Travel Agents (OTAs) is waning, leading to a rise in direct bookings as well as dramatic changes in device use for research and an increasing reliance on mobile apps.

The 2016 survey revealed that distrust in OTAs has increased 50 percent over the past year and that consumers are visiting fewer websites while planning a leisure vacation. Fuel’s survey reveals that 90 percent of leisure travelers visit 10 websites or fewer during an average research period of 26 days. This finding is contrary to data released from Google that claims the number of sites visited is in excess of 20.

“Each year we conduct this survey to better understand the behavior of leisure travelers when researching and booking a hotel,” Stuart Butler, chief operating officer for Fuel, said. “As the go-to digital agency for the hotel industry it is our responsibility to have hard data that our clients and potential clients can rely on and use to help put more heads in beds.”

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The results were complied from more than 2,900 respondents, all of who planned and conducted at least one leisure vacation in the past 12 months. The results are compared to previous years’ responses in an effort to identify shifts and trends in consumer behavior.

Another key take-away from the survey was the increase in mobile use starting from the planning process through the duration of the stay.

“With more than 85 percent of travelers owning and using a smartphone, hoteliers need to focus on the benefits of this direct access to customers,” Butler said. “The results overwhelmingly suggest that, not only is it time to invest in a mobile app, but it’s also time to use your hotel-branded mobile app to generate new revenue streams and increase RevPAR (revenue per available room).”

Travelers are eager to embrace the benefits and convenience of mobile apps. It was revealed that 52.2 percent of customers would use a mobile app to purchase additional services. The biggest opportunity the study showed when focusing on mobile apps is that 61.4 percent of customers would be willing to spend more money for added value such as late checkouts and room upgrades via a mobile app. Mobile apps offer a direct link to promote onsite revenue generating amenities such as restaurants or spas provides a new and untapped method of creating demand during slow periods and increasing revenue.

Full results from the study can be found on Fuel’s website.