WELCOME TO OUR BLOG!

The posts here represent the opinions of CMB employees and guests—not necessarily the company as a whole. 

Subscribe to Email Updates

BROWSE BY TAG

see all

CMB Researcher in Residence: A Chat with Avis Budget Group's Eric Smuda

Posted by Judy Melanson

Thu, Apr 16, 2015

researchers in residence, avis budget group, eric smudaAvis Budget Group’s VP of Customer Insights and Experience, Eric Smuda, sat down with CMB’s Judy Melanson to talk about Customer Experience, suppliers, and his work as a corporate insights executive.

Eric, it’s always fun to listen and learn from you. I’d like to start by asking a broad question: why is managing the customer experience important for Avis?

Managing the experience is critical for us—and critical for the car rental industry as a whole—because it’s the only way we can differentiate ourselves. The products we offer are identical to the products our competitors offer. We don’t have a location advantage because our competitors are immediately next door. There aren’t no-show fees, so customers are free to choose any company. It’s solely customer experience that differentiates us from our competitors and that drives growth.

Tell me a little bit about your job.

My role is to identify customer pain points and to design improvements in our customer experience. My team gathers and shares customer experience measurement data and marries that data with our operational, reservation, and financial data to really understand what, why, when, and where something is happening. This helps ABG define improvement priorities and get executive sponsorship, funding, and resources for those priorities.

How does your team interact with your end-users—both corporate and on-site?  

We want to drive macro change at a corporate level and location-specific change at a local level. One of our newer initiatives is the customer experience governance council, which includes all of North America’s senior management as well as key customer touchpoint owners.

My analytics team shares their findings with the council on a monthly basis. That way, the council can prioritize the projects we want to invest in. We then align executive sponsors, resources, and funding with those initiatives. This monthly meeting also gives us the opportunity to report back on progress made on previous initiatives.  We’ll share those insights with the marketing organization and communicate any changes we make with the customer base.

As you reflect back on the years that you’ve been at Avis, what are some of the changes you’ve made that have had the greatest impact on the customer experience?

One change that stands out is in rental rate price consistency (RRPC). We learned that when customers made reservations on our website, the site wasn’t accurately taking the daily rate, combining it with any add-ons he/she might have (insurance, car seats, GPS, XM radio, etc.), and then correctly calculating the taxes. So customers weren’t getting an accurate final bill. Now they do with the RRPC project, and we’ve seen a significant decrease in our pricing and billing complaints.

Price and cost are such important considerations in the purchase decision because they can be dissatisfiers, so that’s great.

Absolutely. We now know from our text analytics program that billing complaints are the biggest driver of negative Net Promoter Scores. The RRPC project has been one way we’re reducing those pain points and the number of calls going into our call center, and it’s had a large impact for our customers.

Another thing I’d like to mention is the rollout of the Select & Go experience to our top 50 locations. Some customers want to have the option of selecting another car if they don’t like the one we assign to them. This program was born out of that customer feedback. Customers can now receive a notification on their phone about which spot their assigned car is in, come see the car, and either take the assigned car or go to the Select & Go exchange lot where they can exchange the car for free. We also have an upgrade lot where they can decide whether they’re willing to pay $20 or $25 more to upgrade to another car class. This has been a customer experience improvement, and it’s also actually driven $3 million to $4 million in incremental revenue for the company.

That’s fantastic!

It’s a win for customers and a win for ABG. Another thing we know is that speed of service is of the utmost importance. We get more comments about speed of service in our text analytics engine than we do about anything else, so we’ve been taking a look at the entire rental process. We looked at over 100,000 customer verbatims and broke them down based on where they sit in the rental process or in the customer experience. We identified 20 projects we can complete to impact the customer speed of service at different stages of the rental experience. About half of those projects are active now, and customers should definitely look for significant upgrades over the next year or two in our ability to serve them more quickly.

I love that you’re addressing the customer needs more globally. You’re not making a touchpoint-by-touchpoint improvement, but rather an improvement about the customer’s need for speed across his/her entire engagement and experience.

I think that's the biggest philosophical change we've made over the last couple years as it relates to our customer experience program. Rather than looking at it as location-specific and driving change at the individual level, we’re now evaluating customer experience much more comprehensively. We look at macro issues at a division level that impact customers everywhere, and we start to fund and drive change in those identified areas.

What’s going to be different in customer experience at Avis in the next two years?

We’re working on a flight disruption service, which is relevant given the winter we’ve had in the Northeast. This service proactively reaches out to customers whose flights have been canceled and asks them whether they’d like to keep the car another day, turn it into a one-way rental and just drive home, and more. We want customers to know we can get them home or wherever they need to be.

Great! Let’s move a little bit more into research, tell me: what insights get you most excited?

Our program is constantly evolving as we bring in new brands and continue to evaluate our business. CMB was with us at the beginning of this journey, and you guys know that our customer experience program started with roughly 150 to 200 of our top airports.

We’ve also expanded it globally through our partners EMEA and Asia Pacific. The bigger growth challenge for us from a learning standpoint is adding the relationship view of the customer to the evaluations of the transactions they have with us. That will let us know not only how we did in Phoenix yesterday, but also how we’re doing across all of the interactions customers have with our various brands. So all of this growth we’re making in our customer experience measurement program is absolutely something I’m excited about.

As far as things that excite me, it’s really when we can dive down and understand specific customer pain points that affect specific types of customers in specific types of situations. For example, we know customer satisfaction is lower for certain types of trips vs. others, so when we can start to dig and combine that knowledge with other information like pricing strategies, billing strategies, and other policies, you start to understand why. Then, we can begin to have conversations with business decision makers and explain to them what things are getting in the way of the customer experience so they can reconsider and change those practices and policies. My passion is always trying to make things easier and better for customers, so what’s most exciting for me is the possibility of accomplishing that through those conversations.

You’re the customer advocate. There might be pricing or revenue objectives, but you can speak for groups of customers, which needs to be done in order to build engagement with the brand.

That’s always the big challenge: trying to balance customer needs against revenue and profit goals.

What would you tell market research vendors about how they can best support the decisions you need to make?

What an age old question! I feel like the supplier side has always struggled with understanding our business at a level at which they can help us drive business decisions and not just simply provide information. We want suppliers to provide context, combine the findings and the context with our financial drivers, and use all of that to help us make a more informed business decision. That’s a true partnership. That’s where I’ve had the most challenges with suppliers in the past. It’s also why I value working with your CMB team.

Can you talk a little bit about your relationship and partnership with CMB?

You understand our business as well as our management’s priorities. We have a great, trusted relationship—your guidance, partnership, and advice have been wonderful. You’ve transcended from being a vendor to being a very key advisor and trusted partner.

Got a market research question that you're just dying to have answered? Ask our Chief Methodologist, and he might tackle your question in his next blog!

Ask Dr. Jay!

Topics: travel and hospitality research, Researchers in Residence, customer experience and loyalty

Guest Post: New Research Highlights Hotel Booking Path to Purchase

Posted by Carly Schott

Tue, Sep 02, 2014

Originally posted in Loyalty360's Loyalty Management magazine

CMB Consumer Pulse, Path to Purchase, Hotel BookingFor a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is the number of available sources to connect with consumers.With this in mind, market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) recently conducted a study that illuminated the new hotel booking path to purchase – confirming that yes, a wide variety of channels and factors influence the consumer’s hotel decision for leisure travel. Adding to the complexity of this situation, these various sources are used very differently at different stages of the purchase journey.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

The results, based on responses from over 2,000 consumers, show that mobile devices in particular are leveraged only at specific points in the decision-making process. Over 60% of consumers used a mobile device during their purchase journey, and almost half (49%) utilized these devices during the research and evaluation phase. But, when it came time to actually book the hotel, only 6% opted to use a mobile device to do so. Instead, booking online using a desktop or laptop was the method of choice for 68% of those surveyed.

And while online resources in general were popular, mobile applications were used infrequently throughout the journey – in total, only 6% of consumers used them at all, whether for social media or other online sites. Additionally, peer reviews greatly influenced decision-making, but these recommendations were sought through specific channels. Social media was utilized only 13% of the time, while consumer reviews were consulted more often at 59% of the time in total.

Finally, the research shows that customers want the best deal, as almost half took the time to compare room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36 percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

According to Melanson, while the first challenge for marketers is navigating the large amount of sources of information, another challenge is taking a good look at the people who are utilizing this information. When marketers understand who is going where for what information, this can help them understand which consumers they are losing to different sites in the purchase journey.

“Think about it from both the customer and device perspective,” Melanson says. “What is the customer trying to do at this stage in the journey, and is your content aligned with this?”

To download the entire report and view additional findings, click here.

Check out our infographic here

For more on our mobile stitching methodology, please see CMB's Chris Neal's webinar with Research Now: watch the webinar

 

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

With this in mind, market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) recently conducted a study that illuminated the new hotel booking path to purchase – confirming that yes, a wide variety of channels and factors influence the consumer’s hotel decision for leisure travel. Adding to the complexity of this situation, these various sources are used very differently at different stages of the purchase journey.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

The results, based on responses from over 2,000 consumers, show that mobile devices in particular are leveraged only at specific points in the decision-making process. Over 60% of consumers used a mobile device during their purchase journey, and almost half (49%) utilized these devices during the research and evaluation phase. But, when it came time to actually book the hotel, only 6% opted to use a mobile device to do so. Instead, booking online using a desktop or laptop was the method of choice for 68% of those surveyed.

And while online resources in general were popular, mobile applications were used infrequently throughout the journey – in total, only 6% of consumers used them at all, whether for social media or other online sites. Additionally, peer reviews greatly influenced decision-making, but these recommendations were sought through specific channels. Social media was utilized only 13% of the time, while consumer reviews were consulted more often at 59% of the time in total.

Finally, the research shows that customers want the best deal, as almost half took the time to compare room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36 percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

According to Melanson, while the first challenge for marketers is navigating the large amount of sources of information, another challenge is taking a good look at the people who are utilizing this information.  When marketers understand who is going where for what information, this can help them understand which consumers they are losing to different sites in the purchase journey.

“Think about it from both the customer and device perspective,” Melanson says. “What is the customer trying to do at this stage in the journey, and is your content aligned with this?”

To download the entire report and view additional findings, click here.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

With this in mind, market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) recently conducted a study that illuminated the new hotel booking path to purchase – confirming that yes, a wide variety of channels and factors influence the consumer’s hotel decision for leisure travel. Adding to the complexity of this situation, these various sources are used very differently at different stages of the purchase journey.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

The results, based on responses from over 2,000 consumers, show that mobile devices in particular are leveraged only at specific points in the decision-making process. Over 60% of consumers used a mobile device during their purchase journey, and almost half (49%) utilized these devices during the research and evaluation phase. But, when it came time to actually book the hotel, only 6% opted to use a mobile device to do so. Instead, booking online using a desktop or laptop was the method of choice for 68% of those surveyed.

And while online resources in general were popular, mobile applications were used infrequently throughout the journey – in total, only 6% of consumers used them at all, whether for social media or other online sites. Additionally, peer reviews greatly influenced decision-making, but these recommendations were sought through specific channels. Social media was utilized only 13% of the time, while consumer reviews were consulted more often at 59% of the time in total.

Finally, the research shows that customers want the best deal, as almost half took the time to compare room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36 percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

According to Melanson, while the first challenge for marketers is navigating the large amount of sources of information, another challenge is taking a good look at the people who are utilizing this information.  When marketers understand who is going where for what information, this can help them understand which consumers they are losing to different sites in the purchase journey.

“Think about it from both the customer and device perspective,” Melanson says. “What is the customer trying to do at this stage in the journey, and is your content aligned with this?”

To download the entire report and view additional findings, click here.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

With this in mind, market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) recently conducted a study that illuminated the new hotel booking path to purchase – confirming that yes, a wide variety of channels and factors influence the consumer’s hotel decision for leisure travel. Adding to the complexity of this situation, these various sources are used very differently at different stages of the purchase journey.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

The results, based on responses from over 2,000 consumers, show that mobile devices in particular are leveraged only at specific points in the decision-making process. Over 60% of consumers used a mobile device during their purchase journey, and almost half (49%) utilized these devices during the research and evaluation phase. But, when it came time to actually book the hotel, only 6% opted to use a mobile device to do so. Instead, booking online using a desktop or laptop was the method of choice for 68% of those surveyed.

And while online resources in general were popular, mobile applications were used infrequently throughout the journey – in total, only 6% of consumers used them at all, whether for social media or other online sites. Additionally, peer reviews greatly influenced decision-making, but these recommendations were sought through specific channels. Social media was utilized only 13% of the time, while consumer reviews were consulted more often at 59% of the time in total.

Finally, the research shows that customers want the best deal, as almost half took the time to compare room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36 percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

According to Melanson, while the first challenge for marketers is navigating the large amount of sources of information, another challenge is taking a good look at the people who are utilizing this information.  When marketers understand who is going where for what information, this can help them understand which consumers they are losing to different sites in the purchase journey.

“Think about it from both the customer and device perspective,” Melanson says. “What is the customer trying to do at this stage in the journey, and is your content aligned with this?”

To download the entire report and view additional findings, click here.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

With this in mind, market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) recently conducted a study that illuminated the new hotel booking path to purchase – confirming that yes, a wide variety of channels and factors influence the consumer’s hotel decision for leisure travel. Adding to the complexity of this situation, these various sources are used very differently at different stages of the purchase journey.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

The results, based on responses from over 2,000 consumers, show that mobile devices in particular are leveraged only at specific points in the decision-making process. Over 60% of consumers used a mobile device during their purchase journey, and almost half (49%) utilized these devices during the research and evaluation phase. But, when it came time to actually book the hotel, only 6% opted to use a mobile device to do so. Instead, booking online using a desktop or laptop was the method of choice for 68% of those surveyed.

And while online resources in general were popular, mobile applications were used infrequently throughout the journey – in total, only 6% of consumers used them at all, whether for social media or other online sites. Additionally, peer reviews greatly influenced decision-making, but these recommendations were sought through specific channels. Social media was utilized only 13% of the time, while consumer reviews were consulted more often at 59% of the time in total.

Finally, the research shows that customers want the best deal, as almost half took the time to compare room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36 percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

According to Melanson, while the first challenge for marketers is navigating the large amount of sources of information, another challenge is taking a good look at the people who are utilizing this information.  When marketers understand who is going where for what information, this can help them understand which consumers they are losing to different sites in the purchase journey.

“Think about it from both the customer and device perspective,” Melanson says. “What is the customer trying to do at this stage in the journey, and is your content aligned with this?”

To download the entire report and view additional findings, click here.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

With this in mind, market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) recently conducted a study that illuminated the new hotel booking path to purchase – confirming that yes, a wide variety of channels and factors influence the consumer’s hotel decision for leisure travel. Adding to the complexity of this situation, these various sources are used very differently at different stages of the purchase journey.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

The results, based on responses from over 2,000 consumers, show that mobile devices in particular are leveraged only at specific points in the decision-making process. Over 60% of consumers used a mobile device during their purchase journey, and almost half (49%) utilized these devices during the research and evaluation phase. But, when it came time to actually book the hotel, only 6% opted to use a mobile device to do so. Instead, booking online using a desktop or laptop was the method of choice for 68% of those surveyed.

And while online resources in general were popular, mobile applications were used infrequently throughout the journey – in total, only 6% of consumers used them at all, whether for social media or other online sites. Additionally, peer reviews greatly influenced decision-making, but these recommendations were sought through specific channels. Social media was utilized only 13% of the time, while consumer reviews were consulted more often at 59% of the time in total.

Finally, the research shows that customers want the best deal, as almost half took the time to compare room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36 percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

According to Melanson, while the first challenge for marketers is navigating the large amount of sources of information, another challenge is taking a good look at the people who are utilizing this information.  When marketers understand who is going where for what information, this can help them understand which consumers they are losing to different sites in the purchase journey.

“Think about it from both the customer and device perspective,” Melanson says. “What is the customer trying to do at this stage in the journey, and is your content aligned with this?”

To download the entire report and view additional findings, click here.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

With this in mind, market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) recently conducted a study that illuminated the new hotel booking path to purchase – confirming that yes, a wide variety of channels and factors influence the consumer’s hotel decision for leisure travel. Adding to the complexity of this situation, these various sources are used very differently at different stages of the purchase journey.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

The results, based on responses from over 2,000 consumers, show that mobile devices in particular are leveraged only at specific points in the decision-making process. Over 60% of consumers used a mobile device during their purchase journey, and almost half (49%) utilized these devices during the research and evaluation phase. But, when it came time to actually book the hotel, only 6% opted to use a mobile device to do so. Instead, booking online using a desktop or laptop was the method of choice for 68% of those surveyed.

And while online resources in general were popular, mobile applications were used infrequently throughout the journey – in total, only 6% of consumers used them at all, whether for social media or other online sites. Additionally, peer reviews greatly influenced decision-making, but these recommendations were sought through specific channels. Social media was utilized only 13% of the time, while consumer reviews were consulted more often at 59% of the time in total.

Finally, the research shows that customers want the best deal, as almost half took the time to compare room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36 percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

According to Melanson, while the first challenge for marketers is navigating the large amount of sources of information, another challenge is taking a good look at the people who are utilizing this information.  When marketers understand who is going where for what information, this can help them understand which consumers they are losing to different sites in the purchase journey.

“Think about it from both the customer and device perspective,” Melanson says. “What is the customer trying to do at this stage in the journey, and is your content aligned with this?”

To download the entire report and view additional findings, click here.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

With this in mind, market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) recently conducted a study that illuminated the new hotel booking path to purchase – confirming that yes, a wide variety of channels and factors influence the consumer’s hotel decision for leisure travel. Adding to the complexity of this situation, these various sources are used very differently at different stages of the purchase journey.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

The results, based on responses from over 2,000 consumers, show that mobile devices in particular are leveraged only at specific points in the decision-making process. Over 60% of consumers used a mobile device during their purchase journey, and almost half (49%) utilized these devices during the research and evaluation phase. But, when it came time to actually book the hotel, only 6% opted to use a mobile device to do so. Instead, booking online using a desktop or laptop was the method of choice for 68% of those surveyed.

And while online resources in general were popular, mobile applications were used infrequently throughout the journey – in total, only 6% of consumers used them at all, whether for social media or other online sites. Additionally, peer reviews greatly influenced decision-making, but these recommendations were sought through specific channels. Social media was utilized only 13% of the time, while consumer reviews were consulted more often at 59% of the time in total.

Finally, the research shows that customers want the best deal, as almost half took the time to compare room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36 percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

According to Melanson, while the first challenge for marketers is navigating the large amount of sources of information, another challenge is taking a good look at the people who are utilizing this information.  When marketers understand who is going where for what information, this can help them understand which consumers they are losing to different sites in the purchase journey.

“Think about it from both the customer and device perspective,” Melanson says. “What is the customer trying to do at this stage in the journey, and is your content aligned with this?”

To download the entire report and view additional findings, click here.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

For a consumer looking to book a stay at a hotel, the good news is that the available sources to research and purchase are immense.

For a marketer looking to attract consumers to stay at a certain hotel, the challenge is that the available sources to connect with consumers is immense.

With this in mind, market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) recently conducted a study that illuminated the new hotel booking path to purchase – confirming that yes, a wide variety of channels and factors influence the consumer’s hotel decision for leisure travel. Adding to the complexity of this situation, these various sources are used very differently at different stages of the purchase journey.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

The results, based on responses from over 2,000 consumers, show that mobile devices in particular are leveraged only at specific points in the decision-making process. Over 60% of consumers used a mobile device during their purchase journey, and almost half (49%) utilized these devices during the research and evaluation phase. But, when it came time to actually book the hotel, only 6% opted to use a mobile device to do so. Instead, booking online using a desktop or laptop was the method of choice for 68% of those surveyed.

And while online resources in general were popular, mobile applications were used infrequently throughout the journey – in total, only 6% of consumers used them at all, whether for social media or other online sites. Additionally, peer reviews greatly influenced decision-making, but these recommendations were sought through specific channels. Social media was utilized only 13% of the time, while consumer reviews were consulted more often at 59% of the time in total.

Finally, the research shows that customers want the best deal, as almost half took the time to compare room rates on sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36 percent of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

According to Melanson, while the first challenge for marketers is navigating the large amount of sources of information, another challenge is taking a good look at the people who are utilizing this information.  When marketers understand who is going where for what information, this can help them understand which consumers they are losing to different sites in the purchase journey.

“Think about it from both the customer and device perspective,” Melanson says. “What is the customer trying to do at this stage in the journey, and is your content aligned with this?”

To download the entire report and view additional findings, click here.

- See more at: http://loyalty360.org/loyalty-management/september-2014-online-issue/new-research-highlights-steps-of-the-new-hotel-booking-path-to-purchase#sthash.DdWs5kej.dpuf

Topics: technology research, mobile, path to purchase, travel and hospitality research, Consumer Pulse, customer journey

New Consumer Pulse: Mobile Users Upending Hotel Path to Purchase

Posted by Judy Melanson

Tue, Aug 26, 2014

Our latest Consumer Pulse report—a study of 2,000 leisure travelers—found that mobile, social, and online factors influence travelers very differently at separate stages of the hotel booking purchase journey.

We know travelers have a ton of information at their fingertips as they plan and book hotels for their vacations. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.

For more information on how technology is changing the path to purchase download the full report here and see an infographic with a few of the findings below:

The New Hotel Booking Path to Purchase

Download the full report.

For more on our mobile stitching methodology, please see CMB's Chris Neal's webinar with Research Now: Watch the Webinar

Judy Melanson is the head of CMB's Travel and Hospitality Practice. She just returned from a very leisurely trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Stephanie Kimball is CMB's Senior Marketing Manager and created the infographic above. She can't wait for her upcoming trip to London, Amsterdam, Munich, and Prague!

Topics: technology research, infographic, mobile, path to purchase, travel and hospitality research, Consumer Pulse, customer journey

For the Love of Disney: A Look into the Power of Loyalty

Posted by Alyse Dunn

Wed, Jul 23, 2014

loyalty, Chadwick Martin Bailey, DisneyHow many times have you done your favorite thing? It doesn’t matter what your favorite thing may be, or if your favorite thing varies by season. Just think of the number. Does it seem lower than you would expect? Does it seem higher? Or, does it feel just right?Have you ever been to Walt Disney World 50 times? I have. And I continue to go every year. Why? That’s an excellent question and even though, at this point, I have a fairly automated response to that very question, people still don’t seem to understand.

Let me start by addressing the most typical questions I am asked:

  • Don’t you ever go anywhere else? Sometimes, but why would I want to? Ever since I was little, Disney has been (and continues to be) where we have our family vacation every single year. I have expanded my travel as an adult, but the Disney allure still pulls my whole family back annually.
  • Don’t you get sick of going? Not at all. When you’ve been as many times as I have, you get to see Disney through a new lens. There is less of a focus on getting everything in and more of a focus on taking it all in.
  • And the pièce de résistance: Aren’t you too old for Disney? This is my favorite question to answer—not just because I am much younger than most people would assume given my record. I love this question because I get to respond in a way that would garner Disney’s approval—you are never too old for Disney World.  In youth, I was drawn by the enchantment. In adulthood, I’m now just drawn by that feeling I get each time I step through those gates.

I may be able to sing “A Whole New World” without musical accompaniment and relay unnecessarily detailed quips about every ride in the park, but I don’t find that juvenile. I find that—for lack of a better word—magical.

All of my trips to Disney have done a lot for me, but at the end of the day, there is far more to this than just ample travel—and that’s loyalty. I am 100% loyal to Disney. I own their dinnerware, clothing, and toys. I name my pets after their characters. I see all of their movies and know almost everything about them, and I still can’t sleep the night before a trip.  

What makes someone loyal? Lots of things can sprout loyalty, but not all loyalty is equal. In fact, there are a few different kinds of loyalty that a person can experience, including:

  • Captive Loyalty. In colloquial terms, “I will stay with you because it’s too difficult to change.” How frequently do you change your bank or cable provider? Not often, right? That’s because changing providers can be more trouble than it’s worth. That’s not to say that some people don’t love their bank, but maybe that love is a little more conditional.
  • Uninvolved Loyalty. How much thought have you put in to your car insurance provider since purchasing the car? (Bueller?) Maybe that’s because the automated processes that are in place for paying this type and other types of insurance (mortgage) have made you consider it less. Loyal? Yes. Actively loyal? Maybe not so much. It may be part of the reason why companies are encouraging automatic withdrawals for payments.
  • Distribution Loyalty. What is your absolute favorite beer? Is it easily/readily available? If you answered “yes,” it could be that part of your choice is based on distribution—the fact that you can easily get what you want, when you want it. Why are some brands so successful? Perhaps it’s because they have the market bandwidth.
  • Heritage Loyalty. Did your parents always use the same detergent when you were a child? Do you use that same one in your own home today? Sometimes loyalty happens based on what we grow up with. Think back to some of the everyday products you choose. Does your family use them as well? There you go.
  • Loyal Loyalty (aka True Loyalty). The following are elements of true loyalty: you think of the brand first, you believe the brand is the best at what they do, you believe any new line extension they introduce will be a winner and is definitely worth trying, and you have an emotional attachment to the brand. This is the kind of loyalty brands are looking for—the kind I have for Disney.

Loyalty plays into all of the daily choices we make like which brand of soap, chips, or shoes to buy. We find something that works, and we stick with it. Loyalty is often hard to shake. How many times have one of “your brands” upset you, and yet you’ve still given them another chance?

The question that market research should strive to answer is: what can drive this loyalty? As researchers, we need to help companies deepen emotional attachment and better understand their loyal customer base and develop products and services that suit their needs.

Alyse is a Senior Research Associate on the financial/retail practice and still travels to Disney with her family at least once a year. Through her multiple excursions, she has discovered EPCOT is more fun the older you get.

WEBINAR: Concept Optimization Tools for Introducing a Suite of Products: This webinar will provide insights into the tools that can be used from early screening of features to a ready to launch optimization and demand estimation of the final offer.

Watch Now!

Topics: travel and hospitality research, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

Do you Uber? Taking a Ride with the Future of Customer Experience

Posted by Dana Vaille

Wed, Jul 16, 2014

CMB, Uber, Customer ExperienceIf you live in a city, you probably know about the current battle between Uber car services (and others) vs. taxi companies. Maybe you’ve seen stories in the news or actually found yourself in the middle of a taxi driver protest yourself—like the one that happened just outside our offices in Boston, where cab drivers protested by honking their horns for a solid two hours. The gist of the story is this: taxis are highly regulated forms of public transportation. Depending on local laws, they may have permits to pay for, extra insurance to carry, etc. Then along comes a private, unregulated, service like Uber that is (mostly) offering cheaper fares and taking business away from the taxi drivers.  The taxi drivers are understandably frustrated that companies like Uber don’t (for now) have to follow the same guidelines, pay the same fees, etc. I can certainly empathize with the taxis on that front, and I don’t want to under-emphasize the importance of their perspective here. That said, for the purposes of this blog I will focus only on the customer’s perspective…and the potential differences in the customer experience. 

I have taken taxis for years and also recently tried a ride with Uber. Thinking about the taxi vs. Uber experience, excluding the fares, here’s my take:

Pick-up

  • Uber: The company makes it easy to request pickup, regardless of where you are

  • Traditional Taxi: I either need to see a taxi and flag it down, or have a taxi company phone number on hand and be able to identify my exact location—not always easy in an unfamiliar city 

Safety

  • Uber: The app tells me the driver’s name and what he/she looks like, so I know who is picking me up (I can also share that information with my family/friends for safety reasons)

  • Traditional Taxi: I wouldn’t be able to identify the taxi driver until I’m already in the car

Payment

  • Uber: Payment is charged to the credit card on file—it doesn’t get more convenient

  • Traditional Taxi: Taxis require that I either have cash on hand, or pull out my credit card and wait for it to be processed

As a customer, I can easily understand the appeal of a service like Uber.  Even if the fares were the same, or I had to pay a little extra, I might still choose Uber just for the convenience.  As a researcher, I see an opportunity for taxi companies to evaluate the customer experience to find out what they can do better. It’s time for taxi companies to start asking customers…why do you Uber?

Dana is a Research Director at CMB. She loves traveling and exploring new areas, but is admittedly bad with directions. She is uber-excited about the availability of car services like Uber, where she no longer needs to be responsible for providing directions.

WEBINAR: Concept Optimization Tools for Introducing a Suite of Products: This webinar will provide insights into the tools that can be used from early screening of features to a ready to launch optimization and demand estimation of the final offer.

 

 

 

Watch Now!

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: travel and hospitality research, customer experience and loyalty