How Hotels Are Combatting Shrinking Booking Lead Times With nSight Travel Intelligence

How Hotels Are Combatting Shrinking Booking Lead Times With nSight Travel Intelligence

Forward-looking analytics enable hotel revenue managers to manage by need period, marketers to segment by arrival date

NASHVILLE, TN October 2, 2014 Although lead time averages differ based on season, destination and source market,booking lead times or “book to stay” windows continue to get shorter. These shorter booking lead times, especially in the off-season, cause more uncertainty in forecasting for revenue managers. One way hotels can get ahead of this trend is to understand the consumer behaviors and travel intent behind the forward-looking analytics of lead time, and in particular the consumer search-to-book window.

The search-to-book window is the length of time from the first online search until the hotel booking. While the book-to-stay window, which is the time from booking until the guest arrives in market, is easy to measure using booking engine data, it’s the search-to-book or “marketing” window that’s hard to get a handle on. Plus, with the proliferation of online resources and new travel sites coming online every day, the search process could actually be getting longer and more complex than the industry first realized. According to a 2013 study by Expedia Media Solutions and Millward Brown Digital, the number of websites visited escalates as a leisure consumer gets closer to booking, visiting up to 38 sites in the 45 days leading up to booking. By understanding this timing, hotel marketers have greater insight into consumer behavior and potential for incremental bookings.

Aggregating 80 million looks and books daily from more than 5,000 travel websites worldwide, nSight measures the active travel consumer purchase process including the search-to-book window, comparing its key metrics across competitor hotels and destinations.

Based on consumer hotel search data across third-party websites from nSight, the average search-to-book window for a U.S. leisure hotel stay in October is 21 days, with a range of 11 to 26 days for forward-looking demand based on the region. This marketing window is the best opportunity for hotels to market to a specific geography or demographic to influence a consumer’s hotel booking decision. For October, the Plains region has the shortest average search-to-book time at 11.1 days, which is likely due to lower demand for this area in off season. As a high demand market, the Southeast experiences the longest search time for October, 23.8 days, likely driven by popular warm weather destinations on the east coast.

Here’s a look at how search-to-book times differ by region across the U.S. for October 2014:

U.S. Average Search to Book By Region

Destination Region Search-to-Book Time
Mideast 18.9 days
Southwest 23.5 days
Northeast 15.5 days
Farwest 19.7 days
Great Lakes 15.9 days
Southeast 23.8 days Longest
Rocky Mountain 11.4 days
Plains 11.1 days Shortest
U.S. Overall 21.0 days

Source: nSight database of aggregated searches across third-party travel websites for U.S. accommodations in October 2014 as of 9/30/14.

Turning Lead Time into Market Segmentation

Hotels can leverage lead-time intelligence to segment consumers based on target arrival dates. Hotel marketers are able to stagger campaigns to different markets/demographic combinations and search-to-book windows to get guests in market for the desired dates. For example, if a hotel has a need period in 45 days, the first campaign wave could target Baby Boomers in New York with 30-day lead times while the second wave aims at Millennials in Baltimore with 21-day lead times.

nSight’s forward-looking reporting provides a simple color-coded calendar view of future demand and bookings, identifying dates when a property is under- or over-performing.  Take action steps explain how to fill demand gaps by identifying geographic markets and personas with lead times within 30- and 60-day need periods.

“nSight changes a hotel’s point of view by providing a totally new perspective into the future,” said nSight Founder Rich Maradik. “We can identify and target consumers by source city, demographic and now total lead time – matching consumers search and booking behavior with a hotel’s need periods. Hotel revenue managers can actually drive campaigns that align markets and personas with target arrival dates. It’s redefining hotel marketing strategy.”

nSight is an interactive SaaS-based BI application that benchmarks a hotel’s performance on third-party websites worldwide against competing hotels/resorts for the past year or up to 90 days into the future. Its forward-looking business intelligence enables a hotel to focus on online shoppers most likely to book within the next 30-60 days.

Hotel users apply this future intelligence to improve decision making, optimize rate, increase online bookings and grow share over local competitors.

Hotelier can see live forward-looking shopping data for benchmarking, revenue management and digital marketing by contacting [email protected].