Business Traveler vs. Leisure Traveler

With all my talk last week about knowing your “right” guest, I find it interesting that we don’t differentiate a whole lot when we talk social media statistics. Everyone’s a traveler. But there’s a big difference between a business traveler and a leisure traveler. (And there are big differences within both of those categories, so hopefully someone will start really breaking that down soon. If you know of data already out there, feel free send it along).

A Cornell Hospitality Report that studied travelers and the use of social media noted that business travelers use social media differently than leisure travelers. Business travelers, it says, tend to start with the recommendation of their company. Leisure travelers start with the recommendation of their families and friends (hello, Facebook and Twitter). Though the report is a couple of years old, I suspect that much of this still holds true and that when combined with new developments in social media, we can infer some important things.

So here’s how business travelers go about travel decisions, according to the report:

Business travelers rely first on recommendation of their company followed by search engine research. That said, only 40% of them actually selected the hotel their company suggested, meaning there’s still a lot of opportunity to capture that business. Though hotel reviews came up low on the list of considerations for a business traveler in the report, I suspect that two things have changed the effect of reviews.

First, the launch of Google+ reviews, which come up automatically when a traveler searches for hotels using search engines. And second, the added ease of mobile research. A few weeks ago, I posted about mobile travel marketing and the particular importance for business travelers, with 57 percent of them using a mobile device to book travel in 2012 (compared with 38 percent of leisure travelers).  Add it all up, and I’d bet that the importance of travel reviews has increased significantly for the business traveler in the past two years.

Leisure travelers, on the other hand, rely overwhelmingly on the recommendation of family and friends. Then they proceed to use search engines, meta sites like Expedia and Kayak, travel related websites, and hotel reviews, in no particular order here. They are more likely to use a smattering of all of them to make their final decision. With leisure travelers, your reputation is going to affect whether you’re considered at all, then you have to be showing up in the search engines and maintaining your presence across all other aspects of the internet to seal the deal.

Knowing that you’re strapped for time to manage your reputation, consider your market and let that guide you in your priorities.

Tony Ciccarone

Tony Ciccarone is a web developer who is experienced in making high-quality professional websites, writing clean & reusable code, and creating data-driven web applications.

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