New York Times READ

OTAs Soar Past Hotels and Airlines in Driving Offline Word-of-Mouth

Published by Engagement Labs July 11, 2017

As online travel agencies (OTAs) have become the go-to resource for vacationers, they are both partners of and competitors with hotels and airlines. But in an interesting twist, when it comes to consumer conversations, the travel websites are better at driving offline conversations about their brands than either hotels or airlines.

Even though consumers are booking their vacations online, they’re talking about their travel plans – including conversations about leading sites like Expedia and TripAdvisor – in face-to-face conversations.

As our CEO, Ed Keller, writes in a new op-ed for MediaPost, one reason is because individuals move fluidly between their online and offline lives. Many consumers search online and then talk offline with friends and family about their travel plans.

“It’s also consistent with what Engagement Labs sees across many categories—that the growth of social media doesn’t come at the expense of real world conversations,” Ed writes. “If today’s digital-first brands, such as online travel agents, must pay close attention to consumer conversations occurring offline as well as online, then that speaks volumes about its importance for all brands.”

What does this mean for hotels and airlines?

Ed’s advice: When planning marketing and negotiating partnership deals, take into consideration the relative strengths of OTAs in getting consumers to talk about their experiences and what works best for them in driving conversation. Hotels and airlines should also be sure to understand their own performance in driving social influence and take steps to make themselves the topic of conversation.

To learn more about how the OTAs perform on TotalSocial® – including which ones are leading the category – read Ed’s full op-ed on MediaPost.