A paramount goal of hospitality & hotel marketing is not only to understand the consumer path to booking, but also to gain a deeper comprehension of consumer browsing and deliberation before booking. A recent study out of Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Using Eye Tracking to Obtain a Deeper Understanding of What Drives Online Hotel Choice, is shedding some light on this incredibly pertinent and interesting subject of human behavior.
This recent study has taken eye tracking paired with in-depth interviews to uncover precisely what probable guests look at and think about as they manage the browsing and deliberation process of booking a hotel.
Name, Photo and Price
When individuals are online determining which hotel or resort they want to book with, they go through a set of congruent steps to reach that booking outcome:
Step 1:When individuals are in the ‘browsing’ stage of selection, research shows us that name, photo and price are paramount. These three items will cause the browser to select or pass on your hotel. While your hotel name is essentially set in stone, the photos that you provide and the prices you charge will literally make or break a booking.
Step 2: Once the individual has narrowed down their selections, they will move into the ‘deliberation’ phase of the process, where descriptive text, ratings and reviews will impact their decision to book. When they reach this phase, the details that mattered in the browsing phase matter less and the descriptive text, ratings and reviews mattered more.
Eye Tracking Study
The study tracked 32 consumer’s eye movements as they managed the browsing and deliberation process of booking a hotel. Researchers found the following:
- During this process, consumers apply personal heuristics to identify hotels that warrant further scrutiny. During the deliberation phase, consumers review more detailed information for the consideration set—usually no more than about seven properties—from which a purchase decision is made. During the browsing stage, consumers fixate primarily on firm-supplied information, including hotel name, images, price, and location, in addition to user ratings. Within the consideration set, consumers fixate most on images, closely followed by firm-provided descriptions. They also fixate on price and room offers, as well as user-generated ratings and reviews.
According to Breffni M. Noone, Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania State University School of Hospitality Management and co-author of the study, “We found that when people are browsing through search results, they tend to look more frequently at hotel names than any other feature, and that pictures of the hotel appear to be hugely influential during both stages of the search. Our next project will be to dig more deeply into what we uncovered in this initial study, looking at issues such as what kinds of images have the most impact on guests during their searches, or how users balance price with other factors when they make their choices.”
When structuring and building your digital presence, take this research into consideration. Contact Quaintise for more information.