Online travel planning is far from simple. Today’s travel shopper conducts multiple searches, reads online reviews, browses destination information, discusses plans on social sites with friends and colleagues, and compares hotels, rooms and rates across multiple websites. How else can they be sure to find the right room at the right price? Given this, no contemporary marketer ignores the vast array of online channels in his or her marketing plans. And most create those plans by envisioning the traditional purchase funnel: the model that suggests consumers’ progress from awareness, through interest and desire to their purchase action. While this funnel provides a convenient metaphor, it may mislead marketers into believing only one purchase path exists. However, no one follows the same neat, orderly progression from “I think I’ll take a trip” straight through to “Here’s my credit card,” down the same path, funnel-shaped or otherwise. In fact, a person preparing to make a travel reservation is typically exposed to some or all of the following touch points as they traverse their complex purchase path: - Paid search - Natural search - Email - Banner advertising / display media - Brand websites - Mobile websites - Affiliate sites - Retargeting efforts - Sponsored content and contests - Online videos - Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) - Travel review sites - Social media and word of mouth Cornell Hospitality Research notes more than 80% of travelers perform a travel-related search before booking and Google has seen that the average online travel shopper visits 22 sites across 9 or more sessions prior to making a reservation. While that seems extraordinary, given the amount of media directed at consumers, is it any wonder they struggle with their purchase decision? Download the full HSMAI / Vizergy whitepaper at HSMAI (free registration)