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When Booking a Trip, do Biz, Leisure Travelers Use Different Web Search Approaches?

Although many trips start with information gathered from Internet search engines and social media sites, two "old-fashioned" information sources are still heavily used by would-be hotel guests, according to a survey released by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR). Based on responses of 2,830 recent travelers, the social media study confirmed differences in travelers' hotel search process depending on travel purpose. The study also outlines which types of Internet site people are most likely to visit at various stages of their hotel-selection process.
The study found that the information source most frequently used by business travelers is their company's hotel recommendations, while the top source for leisure travelers by far is the recommendations of family and friends. The study, "How Travelers Use Online and Social Media Channels to Make Hotel-choice Decisions," by Laura McCarthy, Debra Stock, and Rohit Verma, is available at no charge from the Center for Hospitality.
"We found a distinct difference in the way business travelers and leisure travelers search for hotel information," says Verma, who is a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and CHR executive director. "To begin with, most travelers cast a fairly wide net when they are gathering information for their trip. This early stage is where travelers consult social media and search engines, in addition to more traditional channels. When it's time to book, however, travelers most frequently used hotel websites and online travel agents."
In addition to the study results, the report also presents current best practices by numerous firms in the hospitality industry and related businesses, as presented at recent CHR Roundtables and the Cornell Hospitality Research Summit. Among other firms, the report presents Web initiatives by Forbes Travel Guides, Hilton Worldwide, J.D. Power and Associates, McDonald's, and Royal Caribbean International.
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