Coupons in Travel Accomodations Industry

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Coupons in Travel Accommodations Industry

We were unable to find information on the insights on how coupons are utilized in the travel accommodation market, coupons/promotional spend per year, the total conversion that takes advantage of coupons, the total increase in conversion because of such offers. However, we attempted compiling useful insights, information on conversion rates from all the information we were able to find based on the frequency of the information on a good number of reliable sources.


1. COUPONS FOR USING AN AGENCY'S APP FOR THE FIRST TIME

  • Expedia is one of the leading OTA (Online Travel Agencies) in the world.
  • An important part of the company's strategy is attracting customers that use mobile devices which include driving conversion through coupons.
  • Expedia offers a $25 discount coupon for using their app to book hotel accommodations for the first time which encourages users to try their app.

2. BEST PRICE COUPONS


3. TRAVEL COUPONS ARE INCREASINGLY POPULAR AMONG CUSTOMERS

  • A report from ClearTrip and Flying shows that coupons are becoming more popular amongst customers.
  • Consumers rated promotional offers and coupons as a source of 28% of the motivation for choosing travel brands.
  • In a study, A.C. Nielson proved that 95% of customers like getting coupons and 60% of these people look for coupons.


4. USING PHYSICAL SPACE TO DISPLAY COUPONS

  • There are demographics of consumers who prefer to make physical bookings.
  • Experts like Scott Selenow encourage travel destinations to have physical spaces at their locations to display coupons which are considered as an added value to customers.
  • To take advantage of this, physical travel destinations are to provide spaces for displaying the coupons and other promotional materials available from the agencies they partner with in exchange for their online agencies to include a link promoting their accommodations and advertising the offers.

5. ADVERTISING COUPONS VIA ENTERTAINING VIDEOS

  • Travel accommodation agencies use videos to reveal coupon codes and other promotional offers.
  • Airbnb advertises their limited $100 discount coupon offer for staying at tree houses and private islands in an engaging video.
  • The Airbnb video in question was made with clips from the live-action Jungle Book movie, which in turn engages viewers.

KEY FINDINGS ON PROMOTIONAL SPEND AND CONVERSION RATES

  • MakeMyTrip spent $74,402,000 on accommodation promotions and made $58,204,000 from the same industry in 2018.
  • Many new customers are converted because of coupons.
  • The conversion rates for hotel websites is 2.2% and top hotels have as much as 5.6% conversion rate.
  • According to a Littledata survey, the average conversion rate for the travel industry was 0.6%. For the top 20% of players in the travel industry, the conversion rate is 2.2%, with a rate of 4.4% for the top 10%.
  • Increase in conversion rates can raise occupancy rates from 5% to 20% (i.e., 15%).
  • Discounts and offers from accommodations result in the customer preferring that travel agency.
  • Several chain hotels have lost out due to this.   


RESEARCH STRATEGY

We began our research by looking for precompiled information on each of the requested information; insights on how coupons are utilized in the travel accommodation market, coupons/promotional spend per year, the total conversion that takes advantage of coupons, the total increase in conversion because of such offers. For this, we leveraged reputable databases industry, market and related platforms like Reuters, Emarketer, TripAdvisor, Sojern Data, PRNewswire, Accenture, Travel Daily News, and so on. For the promotional or coupon spend, increase in conversion and amount of conversions utilizing coupons, we looked for industry reports, market analysis, news articles, press releases, publications, and other similar materials. However, we did not find any information coupon spend or promotions in the industry, insights or any of the other criteria. Instead, we found information about good coupon deals, why customers should use travel coupons, options, and availability of coupons, global travel insights which did not relate to coupons, coupons insights and market analysis which neither included spend nor related to the travel accommodations industry. This might have been because the industry is really specific and such information is not publicly available.

Secondly, we shifted to identifying the various types of travel accommodations to repeat the strategy for each of the types. An article found listed the types of travel accommodations to be hotels and resorts, short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb, extended stay or services apartments, hostels. We repeated the previous strategy for each of the relevant types of these accommodations with the intention of adding together the coupon/promotional spend available, the uptick in conversions, and the number of conversions via coupons for each of the accommodation types for an estimate and compiling the insights from each. Available information focused on tips for using coupons, trends in driving conversion which did not include much information on coupons, examples of travel accommodation agencies with high conversion rates, and other similar kinds of information.

Thirdly, we looked for travel industry insights, global market analysis on the general industry with hopes of finding information relevant to the accommodation market. We utilized reputable databases, industry, and market research platforms, blogs and so on like Deloitte, Green book, Mitel, PRNewswire, TripAdvisor, and the likes. Again limited information available on annual spend or conversion which had to do with coupons and more related to landing page designs and advertising. We were, however, able to obtain some useful information from this strategy. The lack of this information was probably due to the relative smallness of the coupon market in the travel industry.

We decided to analyze the top travel accommodations in the world to obtain information on their coupon/promotional spend, uptick due to the conversion from coupons, and to draw insights from their use of coupons. We discovered that the key players in the travel accommodation booking industry are online travel agencies (OTA) booking sites like Bookings.com, Airbnb, Hotels.com, Agoda.com, and Expedia. From this, we focused our attention on obtaining the requested information from the key players to analyze the market. We found how Expedia drives conversion using coupons.

In addition, we focused on analyzing forums of the key players in the market to manually count the number of new customers that joined because of coupons. For this, we leveraged the Airbnb forums like Community with Airbnb, Bookings.com forums, TripAdvisor forums, and Hotel.com forums. We discovered that there were several new customers because of coupons and discounts but we could not find the percentage of the new customers that were coupon converted because the information was not sufficient to make a comparison. This was because the posts by the new customers were complaints about not getting their first-time coupons and those introducing themselves did not mention whether they joined because of coupons.

We tried to triangulate the requested information by digging deeper for case studies, surveys, studies, researches, polls that would probably provide information on the most successful coupon offerings by travel accommodation agencies. We analyzed their overall conversion, the uptick on conversion, and success rates in general. This provided us with information on the changes such offers had on first-time consumer opinions and preferences about the brand. For this, we utilized reputable databases and industry-related sites like Academia, Research gate, Nielsen, Harvard Business Review, Forbes Academia and Travelocity among others. Nevertheless, what we found was more related to how to take advantage of coupon deals and how they save money for customers. Not much information was available on improvement in brand image, statistics on preference or first-time customers conversion. We discovered that discounts and offers from accommodations result in preference by customers. We assume that this is because the coupon conversion rate for the travel industry was relatively low as we discovered from our previous strategies and therefore there were no changes significant enough from the industry for such studies. More significant conversion rates are obtained from peer to peer channels.

Next, we tried analyzing information on general coupon insights, conversion, spend to extract information related to travel accommodations. We searched for coupon insights, global and regional market analysis on the general industry from reliable sources like Finder.com, TripAdvisor, Insight Vacations, Coupons.com, Deloitte, and so on. This strategy was futile as the information obtained had almost nothing to do with the travel accommodation market. What we found were those related to coupons in general from various other industries.

Then we have compiled relevant insights from all the information we were able to find based on the frequency of the information on several reliable sources. We found out that several travel accommodation agencies utilize coupons (of as much as $100) which helps drive conversion. Additionally, the total conversion rates in the travel and hospitality industry is relatively small.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Coupons in Travel Accommodations Industry: Competitive Landscape

AirBnB used a combination of a referral program and a "first booking" coupon promo to increase conversions for their service. It was also found that some competitors of MakeMyTrip and Booking.com in the Asian market are willing to take a loss on a transaction as long as they gain market share. Below are the findings as well as the methodology used for this research.

HOW AIRBNB UTILIZED AND IMPROVED THEIR FIRST BOOKING COUPON PROMO

  • AirBnB utilized a word-of-mouth strategy to drive conversions for their service through the use of a combination of a referral program and a "first booking" coupon code. This program rewards users that refer new users to the site with travel credits that they can use for their own accommodations.
  • AirBnb tracked metrics of their referral feature to make necessary adjustments to the program. They increased the number of invites that each user sends by implementing a feature that allowed users to import their contacts into the app. They also increased the share of active users sending out invites by improving on the discoverability of the referral feature.
  • Finally, they increased conversions by allowing users to send reminders to their invited friends.
  • AirBnB conducted A/B tests to further improve their referral program. One such test involved figuring out the proper value proposition for referrals.
  • They sent out emails that either told users that they could earn $25 from referring their friends or told them that they could give their friends $25 off from their booking when they referred them. These emails aimed to appeal to either the user's self-interest or altruism, respectively.
  • These A/B tests allowed AirBnB to increase referrals by 25% in some markets.

OTHER HELPFUL FINDINGS

  • According to a survey conducted by Forrester, 68% of US online shoppers often look for discounts and offers when making purchases in the travel category.
  • It has been found that 80% of consumers say that they want promotions that are tailored to their personal needs and preferences.
  • Research has shown that despite privacy concerns, 43% of consumers want to save money through personalized promotions, discounts or deals to the point that they would agree to share personal data with companies despite privacy concerns.
  • The annual reports of MakeMyTrip and Booking Holdings Inc suggest that their competitors in the Asian market are willing to make little to no profit on transactions through discounts and coupons for the sake of gaining market share.

RESEARCH STRATEGY:

After an extensive search through case studies, research reports, news releases, and articles, we were unable to determine how Booking.com, Trivago, and MakeMyTrip are utilizing coupons using information in the public domain. We were able to find information regarding consumer preferences and insights regarding personalized promotions, however, these did not give enough data for us to make an analysis of how these companies' coupons were utilized to drive conversion.

We first attempted to search for case studies from credible sites such as Forrester that may give us insights on the coupon marketing strategy used by the specified travel accommodations companies. We were able to find out that US online shoppers often look for discounts and promos when they make purchases in the travel category, however, it does not give insights on the specific strategies of the specified companies. We then looked through press releases from sites such as PRNewswire under the assumption that these companies may have announced any promotional coupons. We were able to find out that Trivago is experiencing a decline in revenue and is planning to cut on their advertising spend to improve their profitability. While we can assume that this means they are also cutting back on promotional spending such as through coupons, not enough information regarding their reduced advertising spend can back up this assumption.

Our next strategy was to look through the annual or financial reports of the specified companies under the assumption that they are likely to discuss insights into their coupon marketing strategy with their investors. We were able to find annual reports for Trivago, MakeMyTrip, and Booking Holdings Inc (the parent company of Booking.com). The annual report of MakeMyTrip and Booking Holdings Inc reference the commonness of discounts and coupons in the Asian markets that they operate in, as well as the fact that their competitors are willing to make no profit on a transaction in order to gain market share, however, no insights regarding how they utilize coupons themselves could be found in their reports.

Finally, we attempted to look through the coupons that the companies are currently offering under the assumption that by knowing the kinds of coupons that they are currently offering, we can better refine our research and possibly find insights on how these companies are utilizing coupons to drive conversion. We searched for these coupons on the company's websites and on coupon aggregator sites such as Groupon and Coupons.com. We were able to find examples of coupons for Booking.com, AirBnB, Trivago, and MakeMyTrip. We then attempted to gather insights on the reason why these companies are offering these specific kinds of coupons and how it helps drive conversion from marketing-relevant websites such as Cobbleweb, Adweek and AdAge. While we were able to find a case study on the "first booking" coupon promo of AirBnB, it was the only relevant source found as other sources only revealed general insights on consumer preferences related to coupons.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "Expedia also gives users a $25 off coupon for the first hotel booking through the app. These incentives can compel new users to try out a new app."
  • "Incentivizing mobile app downloads with coupons and reward points is a big part of the company’s strategy to capture users on smaller screens."
  • "Expedia “guarantees” the best possible price (here’s the page explaining how). In fact, if you find a lower price than Expedia’s, the company will pay you the difference and give you a $50 coupon. Again, this helps assure customers that they’re getting the best possible deal."
Quotes
  • "Provide some space for them to display rack cards and coupons in the hotel, which will act as added value for your customers. In exchange, require them to place a link on their website for out-of-town guests to take advantage of your hotel deals."
Quotes
  • "Why Would a Traveler Use Coupons? Even though most of your guests will have booked online, many traveler demographics still prefer to call a hotel directly or physically walk into a business to make a transaction. "
  • "They are encouraged to call ahead to check the availability of rooms at the listed rate."
Quotes
  • "Create engaging videos that hold a user’s attention. Show amenities, talk about offers, share coupon codes or display testimonials."
Quotes
  • "Airbnb advertises a $100 coupon off treehouse stays and private island getaways. We found out after watching a short, but engaging video that uses clips from the new Jungle Book movie as a primer to get travelers interested in spending a night in a treehouse."
Quotes
  • "Consumers ranked the following personalized experiences as the most motivating to do business with a travel and leisure brand: providing offers or coupons based on consumer’s physical location (35%); home page automatically shows best fares/hotel deals in frequently-travelled cities (32%); providing offers or coupons based on past trips or preferences consumer set (28%) (Epsilon)"
Quotes
  • "Key findings of the report covering the January-December period include the sustained expansion of the industry, the rising trend of mobile traffic in major cities, and the growing popularity of travel coupons among travellers"
Quotes
  • "A study from an independent research-marketing firm, A.C. Nielson Co., suggests that 95% of people like getting coupons, with 60% of it revealing they are actually looking for coupons."
Quotes
  • "The average hotel website conversion rate is 2.2 %, with the top 20 % of hotels having an average conversion rate of 5.6 % and the bottom 20 % having a conversion rate of 0.3 %. These are sweeping averages which might be practical when benchmarking one’s hotel but are almost always impossible to use individually."
Quotes
  • "Asked about the push by chains towards rate parity in some locations, Okerstrom said: “What’s very interesting is that hotels have pushed their book direct strategies with discounts on their own sites. What we have noticed is that independent hotels have come to us with offers and we are seeing customers choose them and the chain hotels drift to the bottom.”  "
From Part 02
Quotes
  • "Discounts are important to driving purchases. This is especially true for purchase in categories like clothing, travel, electronics, and grocery. In these product categories, a discount has strong influence on the final purchasing decision, and often increases the potential for conversion when shoppers are in the final purchase phase, combatting shopping cart abandonment."
Quotes
  • " 80% of consumers say they want promotions that are tailored to their own personal needs and preferences, which may seem obvious, but many brands do not take advantage of this opportunity. Differentiate from your competition by offering tailored discount opportunities which are likely to delight your customers."
Quotes
  • "An Airbnb First booking coupon code is a referral based system where an existing user can share their unique code with a new Airbnb user. All you have to do is enter the code when booking your first stay. Simple as that!"