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Report Reveals Search Engines Trump Brand Loyalty

iPerceptions Inc. and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), have announced the release of their 'Online Satisfaction and Experience in the Hospitality Industry' report for Q3 2012.

The report discovered that the bulk (72%) of visitors to hospitality and tourism websites were repeat visitors in Q3 2012. But despite a strong prevalence of repeat visitors, most travelers accessed hospitality and tourism sites via search engines -- first time and repeat visitors alike. Only about one in four visitors typed in the brand URL to reach the website, an incidence that has increased among first time visitors from last quarter and last year, suggesting that promotional efforts may have helped with brand awareness and recall.

The share of visitors accessing hospitality and tourism websites via an email link also increased significantly since last year from 2% to 7% in Q3 2012, according to the research. This indicates that marketing efforts employed by brands has been working to drive visitors to their websites. Bookmarking tracked as a distant third with only 9% of visitors accessing the website through this channel. This suggests either that brand loyalty has not been optimized, or that typing in the URL serves as a proxy for bookmarking since recalling the URL is a form of brand identification.

The research also found that the bulk of hospitality and tourism websites were comprised of repeat visitors (72%) in Q3 2012. Since Business travelers were more frequent travelers than their Leisure counterparts, repeat website visits were more common in this group. Importantly, however, is that first time visitors within the Business cohort increased significantly since last quarter as well as versus the same period last year.

Findings from the report are based on immediate post-experience feedback from nearly 82,000 visitors to 257 hospitality websites. The data represents aggregated information obtained from iPerceptions' webValidator and 4Q Suite surveys.

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