Day 2 of PhoCusWright brings yet another beautiful Arizona morning, and yes, I did sneak out to enjoy a quick run through the Kierland Westin neighborhood as the sun rose. Then it’s off to 3 morning Workshops and then this afternoon, the Center Stage part of the program begins. So, without further ado here’s what I’m checking out today.

9:00am – great to see a fellow (former Parkite) presenting this session – nice job Kevin!

Workshop #1

Exploring consumer behavior on the path to purchase


Research – Expedia is at the top at bottom of the purchase funnel.

Nice example of OTA booking, someone from Pittsburgh bounced all around , even to visitsaltlake and  before booking on expedia.

Compete study – looked for people that booked a vacation package at an OTA and visited a DMA site w/in 45 days of purchase

# of visits to travel sites w/in the 45 days was 50! Almost 1 visit per day, but it is almost incremental exponential growth up to week of purchase, 20.1 that week. OTA is leading the visitation in every week leading up to purchase. Were always at least 1/3 of all visits.

Share of (when breaking out OTAs by brand) was 36% and all expedia properties was 50%!

Number of search referrals to travel sites made by package bookers 45 days before booking = 13 (27%) is pretty consistent. Of this, the share of category is dominated by planning and review and then DMOs. This shows that DMOs are primarily dependent upon search for their main traffic source.

At least half of this segment had DMO and OTA site up during the same session, of this sub-segment each member averaged at least 2 such sessions during the 45 days. In nearly 60% of these instances, Expedia was the OTA involved in the double session.

Expedia case study involved essentially a NOLA takeover of Expedia, with wallpaper and package placement.

  • Unaided awareness of NOLA as a travel destination rose 8-14%
  • NOLA as a possible destination rose 31-41%

11:10am Next workshop…

Workshop #2

Local Mobile Social

Location 3

Need a comprehensive campaign that combines a variety of online placements.

“Citations are the new link” in local listing optimization – any mention online of your business, with or without links.

Hmm, stats on the importance of negative reviews and their impact on consumers…seems pretty obvious and the recommended response of taking negative offline seems pretty obvious as well.

Don’t know that the  example of a 50% discount for a location based service will resonate with this audience, pretty sure most vendors are not going to be excited about dropping ADR even more.

Geez, another pretty obvious statement, send a user that clicks on a mobile ad to a mobile site, preferably one that’s designed for the mobile users’ device…hate to say it, but these things should be no brainers for anyone in the space.

On Site

SEO, use hCard, KML and rich snippets for optimal SEO.

Off Site

Submit to directories, get citations, encourage reviews.

A whitepaper with these items and more is available at

2:30pm Workshop 3 and now off to the Center Stage presentations – should be good!

Workshop #3

Consumer Sentiment Overload?


29% of people use socnets to find relevant information and 25% use to find recommendations.

53% of people on Twitter recommend companies and/or products with 48% delivering on their intention to buy that product!

Upstream sources of referrals for travel – 35% search, 23% travel, 6% social/forums, 5% email.

8% of traffic to cuise line sites is from social – highest in the industry.

Airlines receiving site traffic from Facebook – SouthWest leads the pack by almost double over JetBlue – lots due to the fact that they have a “Bags Fly Free” widget. Delta has a booking engine that helps, but they’re still 3rd. For hospitality, the large size of FB drives, repeat visitors to hotel sites – Marriott is the top hotel brand on FB, example of their Honeymoon gift guide widget, neat idea! used targeted FB promos to drive 22% of their site’s traffic from FB.

Users are actively searching for travel content – brands/destinations – within FB  per a custom analysis of FB internal searches.

Love it – email is the perfect compliment to social media initiatives. Email is third highest driver.

TripAdvisor is top review site.

Consumers are cross-referencing reviews while researching travel. But, despite broad availability searchers are not always finding relevant results. Lots of searches for airline and cruise reviews,  most traffic is going to TripAdvisor and Cruise Critic from these searches.


SocNet/Forum category captured largest share of traffic in Oct w/travel at 6% of the mix.

Email is top driver of traffic for both travel websites as well as social networks.

Customers are actively cross-referencing reviews and UGC.

Carnival – Navigating the Seas of Social Networks

Had a social micro-site, but it’s much easier to use forums and UGC.

Have JohnHealds Blog is their cruise director who is the voice of Carnival – what happens if/when John leaves Carnival?

Carnival has 2 Twitter accounts – one for support and one for marketing – good pt of who wants to hear about another cruise if you need help!

FB fanpage has 382k fans, uses tabs for different promotions. Ex of using a tab to promote a new ship with all the new things it offers. Stays away from promotions, use that on the main site. Developed a FB cruise finder so that people don’t need to come to the main site, to find options, it will come to them.

The Splendor incident was the 3rd most popular search on Google on 11/9/10 day of the fire. On FB, they monitored intently, responded asap, but customer evangelists were also very quick to respond and back up the company!

6:10pm phew, I’m getting a bit whupped, probably getting up too early for a little jog, maybe staying up a bit late or perhaps a packed day of listening and learning, but I’m good for the last half hour stretch here…in any case, here’s all my notes from Center Stage, which has been

Center stage –

Philip Wolf intro is a lot of great quotes on the shift in travel and overall market trends to social and mobile. Best quote is, “The Mobile Social Web is the most powerful collaboration tool in the history of humankind!”

Last years’ innovators advice, basically is to stay focused and to make money!

It’s the vacation rental section of the program with Brian Sharples from HomeAway. Great lead in, “it’s always been chaos, we’ll all adapt and be ok.”

When HomeAway began, they took several months to examine where the market was.

Two models, old simple fee based is what HomeAway chose.

Travelers want choice, home owners want distribution. So while others were busy innovating, HA was busy buying. This is now come down to trying to create a global network. There’s been progress but there have been a lot of tradeoffs. Lots of dev goes to basics and not apps and the like.

Almost 30 million vacation inquiries across HA’s properties so far this year!

Goal is to increase the avg number of inquiries per property across their network.

HA therefore needs to start opening up and start navigating the new, by cherry picking new innovations.

HA is looking to bring in ecommerce – bought the two 2 biggest vacation rental property management software companies (buy, buy, buy).

IPad is the game charger in online mobile ecommerce, not phones, much easier to flip through photos and other media and then book on a tablet than on a phone!

Talkback w/ Julian Castelli of Vacation Roost and Erik Hovanec of Leisure Link

Vacation rental market at $100Billion world wide ($25-30 billion in US).

More vacation rental options with HA than OTAs have hotels…also less regulated than hotels, although that is changing. HA is involved in trying to shape implementation of rules/regs.

There are many markets where vacation rentals are the only way to go, but they do compete w/hotels in many others.

Sharples is the biggest critic of his companies’ own web properties (I have a similar feeling about the sites I help maintain as well).

75% of vacation rental business is families – value is the key.

HA advertised during the Super Bowl last year, and will do so again year.

What Google is looking to do in the hotel and airfare search sector isn’t there currently – shouldn’t be a problem, at least now…

HA doesn’t dip much into the “hotel” keyword ppc, too pricey, looks like they play hard in vacation rental terms, top of the list for that phrase. Search is definitely huge for them.

Majority of the customer of one of the software companies that HA recently bought are still on DOR! Coming from my background, that must be the former First Resort Software?

Wow, out of 6000 vacation rental managers in the US, 4000 are customers of HA!

Interview with Steve Hafner of Kayak

Goal of Kayak is to improve the online travel experience. Friction pts are still there in OTAs. Assisted booking is a first step, launched for mobile.

Pain point for consumers on Kayak is when they’re redirected to the supplier and have to re-enter info.

Kayak on mobile is good, but the purchase path is lacking in mobile.

Interesting that web devs for Kayak are 35+ and mobile are under 25, lots more movement in mobile dev for that reason.

Kayak started its 2 yr offline campaign last October and are already seeing results!

Wishing they would have launched sooner in Asia than they did.

Mobile path is the experience that Kayak is highly focused on.

Interview with Baney Harford of Orbitz and Hugh Jones of Travelocity

Barney emphasizes the growth of mobile.

Hugh echoes Hafner on the iPad and tablets being booking tools.

Major thing is making trip planning is simpler with a a mobile app – per Barney.

Orbitz working on a very in-depth recommendation engine w/rich data analysis – like your very best personal travel agent.

Per Hugh, Google is important in travel and is where they need to be, Travelocity does participate with Google Maps.

Google is dominant in search and w/the acquisition of ITA they will now be dominant in travel search, which will result in OTAs needing to spend more for customer acquisition and drive up travel costs – per Hugh.

Google-ITA leads Orbitz to how a customer gets to their site, not necessarily about increased cost of acquisition.

AA-Orbitz deals is forcing companies to access AAs info directly as opposed to through a GDS.  From Hugh it’s about shifting costs from supplier to intermdediary and ultimately to consumer…

Keynote from Richard Barton Expedia’s founder and first CEO.

“Entrepreneurs among us”

Power to the people – if it can be known, it will be known. If it can be rated it will be rated.

Nice to here him saying that there is no hiding on the internet – good intro to Glassdoor.

Keeping with that theme, jumps to Zillow and how it shows home pricing around the country.

Then to, if it can be rated, it will be rated – Avvo is a way to find a physician or attorney. Then there’s RealSelf which rates medical procedures…uh, ok.

Barton disagrees w/Hafner about social being overhyped, thinks it may be underhyped.

It’s all about building product that really wows people. – Barton on if he were still running Expedia. Also, not spending on advertising forces to concentrate on product quality. “When companies spend on advertising they get lazy on product.

Jeff Clarke Travelport (Galileo/Worldspan)

Global travel search market is huge and much bigger than domestic…travelport does the traffic of Kayak (9 months worth) in 10 days.

New ways to interact with customers online and across multiple platforms – social/mobile.

Travel chaos is open system vs closed – ie opaque vs transparent.

Role of the GDS is to negotiate on behalf of it’s agents (65k) in the case of Travelport.

Clarke says industry consolidation is good in general – not specifically talking about Google/ITA though, could be good, but also dangerous.

6:40pm – just finished for the evening, here’s the last bit w/Stephen Kaufer – wow, great day!

Stephen Kaufer – TripAdvisor

Being able to go fast and drive execution efficiencies does not slow down as you get bigger.

Try a bunch of stuff, but be sure to cut off the things that aren’t working.

Talking about a Groupon style component that they’ve developed, non-competitive w/Groupon in Kaufer’s opinion.

No excuse to not have a culture of fast iteration.

Interesting pt about first page or two of results can be readily influenced by social integration.

Love to hear someone else say how often Facebook changes their API – Kaufer just said that they’re great to work with but somewhat frustrating due to how often they change API.