By John McAuliffe

What makes online travel shoppers feel comfortable, welcomed and confident in their hotel booking decisions? It could be a number of factors and may vary from consumer to consumer - their friend stayed at that hotel and had a good experience, all of the reviews they read online were positive, the hotel advertised a special package that catered to their interests. But, there's one thing for sure, visual content definitely plays a significant role when travel shoppers are researching hotel options online.

Travel shoppers are no longer looking for the lowest-priced option; they're looking for the best-priced option that promises them the best experience. The proliferation of the Internet has opened travelers up to a plethora of hotel options right at their fingertips. It's easier than ever before for shoppers to find and be engaged by visual content, particularly video, and as a result, travel shoppers have become increasingly "content-sensitive."

It's not just written content that is important, but rather, a combination of relevant written and visual content. A study conducted by Forrester Research earlier this year found that 37% of US online leisure travelers surveyed avoid staying at hotels because they don't see photos, video or written content that would make them feel comfortable.1

Online travel shoppers start their hotel research on any number of sites - search engines, online travel agencies, video sites, review sites, destination sites, social media sites, brand site, etc. and the most failsafe way to engage and convert shoppers to buyers is to ensure that the content for your hotel makes them feel comfortable, welcomed and confident in their booking decision.

So yes, when managed effectively online, content is key to hotel bookings and will give you a leg up over your competition online.

John McAuliffe is Chief Marketing Officer at VFM Leonardo