Skiing Means Fun – And BIG Business!

Family on Chair Lift

Revenue from skiing/snowboarding is big business. According to the National Ski Areas Association, direct spending at U.S. resorts in 2011-2012 was $5.83 billion.  And as the accompanying chart illustrates, visits during the 2011-2012 season were the lowest in ten years.

Colorado is widely regarded as offering some of the best skiing in the country with 30 areas to choose from throughout the western portion of the state, including Vail Mountain which boasts the largest acreage in North America.  But despite its popularity, Colorado ranks only 4th nationally in terms of the number of ski areas behind New York (50), Michigan (42), and Wisconsin (32).

Not surprisingly, skier visits are influenced in large part by the amount of snowfall. The 2011-2012 season suffered from drought conditions in many parts of the country and the impacts were reflected in the number of visits. Conditions improved modestly during the 2012-2013 season, though visits remained below the 10-year average of 57.8 million.

While weather is notoriously unpredictable, extremely wet conditions in the fall of this year, notably in Colorado, give rise to optimism for big snow in the coming season.  Favorable snow conditions and an improving economy translate into increased revenue not only for the resorts themselves, but also for lodging, restaurants, shops and a variety of others located in mountain communities whose businesses are largely dependent upon winter tourism.   


(in millions)
























































* Source: National Ski Areas Association

Travel: What’s it Really Worth?

What’s it worth? Plenty. Aside from facilitating business transactions and transporting families to favorite vacation destinations, it’s a major boon to the economy. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 2009 total output for travel and tourism had a value of nearly $700 billion. And the number of people traveling has been on the rise since that time.  

Where the Dollars Go:


Expenditure (In Millions)



 Traveler Accommodations  $130,915
 Food services and drinking places  $111,706
 Nondurable PCE commodities other than gasoline 1  $  95,615
 Domestic passenger air transportation services  $  67,210
 Gasoline  $  51,217
 International passenger air transportation services  $  45,404
 Gambling  $  41,365
 Travel arrangement and reservation services  $  34,733
 All other recreation and entertainment  $  16,608
 Other  $104,325
 TOTAL  $699,098

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

1. PCE:  Personal Consumption Expenditures





Top Foreign Travelers to USA and Why it Matters


During 2012 alone, 66.97 million foreign travelers came to the United States. Of these, 59.5 million or 89% came from twenty foreign countries. Below are the top 10 countries in order of rank and the percentage of change from the prior year.


CANADA CANADA 22,698,986 +6.4
MEXICO MEXICO 14,509,341 +7.5
JAPAN JAPAN 3,698,073 +13.8
GERMANY GERMANY  1,895,952  +2.9
BRAZIL BRAZIL  1,791,103  +18.8
CHINA CHINA (EXCL H.K.)  1,474,408  +35.3
FRANCE FRANCE  1,455,720  -3.2
SOUTH KOREA SOUTH KOREA  1,251,432  +9.3
U.S. Dept of Commerce



































Considering the impact that foreign travelers have on overall travel spending, successful marketers can utilize this information to help guide their geotargeting efforts in paid search marketing and other strategies. In addition, by recognizing the countries from which foreign clients originate, service providers are in a better position to accommodate the customs and unique cultural preferences of their guests.

For information on the top cities and states visited by foreign travelers, go to

What Do 49% of U.S. Travelers Know That You May Not?

While hotels and motels have traditionally been the lodging option of choice for travelers, recent statistics indicate a growing preference for vacation rental properties. According to a survey released in April, 2013 by TripAdvisor, nearly half (49%) of the 1,300 U.S. travelers who responded to the survey indicated that they either have or plan to stay in a rental home in 2013, up from 40% in 2011 and 46% in 2012.

Why such a surge in interest for vacation rentals over hotels? According to the survey, 82% of respondents cited savings and last minute deals as the top reasons.  Other motivating factors for the choice included traveling with a large group and the availability of more living space. While not specifically mentioned in the survey, it’s probable that greater awareness of the availability of vacation rentals as a result of increased online marketing and guest referrals are also playing a big role in the shift. After all, how many of you remember childhood vacations spent in a personal residence as opposed to in a major hotel chain?

Each type of lodging facility offers its own unique advantages. Here are the most common ones:


Ultimately, travelers are likely to make their selection for lodging type based on past experiences, personal preferences, budgets, travel purpose, size of the group and their relationship with one another, length of stay, and the availability of lodging options at their desired location. For shorter stays and when traveling alone, the conveniences that hotels offer are hard to beat.  But for longer term lodging and with friends or relatives who want to be close, but not too close, vacation rentals often provide the ideal accommodations. And if the convenience of hotel room service is a really big deal, consider hiring a professional chef to come in and prepare those special meals in the comfort and privacy of your vacation rental.

Travel Statistics to Guide Your Target Marketing Efforts – Leisure Travel Wins!

You know that effectiveness is enhanced with target marketing. But how do you know which target to aim for, business or leisure travelers? Here are some key facts to help you decide.

Someone once said about marketing that if you do the right things, then you only need to concern yourself with doing things right. But if you do the wrong things, it doesn’t much matter how well you do them. The question you might then ask yourself is: “What are the right things for me?”

The answer will vary to some degree based upon your specific location, business model, facilities and other factors but regardless of what segment of the hospitality industry that you specialize in, certain statistics about demographic trends in the travel and hospitality industry are likely to shape your future marketing efforts. On a broad scale, these trends are influenced by travel purpose, economic conditions, personal disposable income, fuel costs, consumer confidence, and other factors.

Let’s start with the broad strokes: Exactly who is traveling?

According to the U.S. Travel Association, consumers spent $564 billion in 2011 for domestic and international leisure travel verses $249 billion spent by business travelers, a margin of more than 2:1. For domestic travel within the U.S., the margin is even greater with 77% of the 2011 total conducted for leisure purposes.

According to the Global Business Travel Association, business travel has grown less than 6% on average from 2010 through 2012 as the economy has recovered and as many companies are reporting record profits due to a weak labor market. In spite of this, the frequency of business travel was forecast to actually decline year over year in 2012 and again in 2013. Clearly, corporate profitability is not a significant factor.

So what is?

While there is no substitute for a face-to-face business meeting on certain occasions, many others can be accomplished in a much more cost-effective manner using technology solutions that have proliferated and grown in acceptance over the past several years.  Are these advances in broadband and V.O.I.P. technologies doing for business travel what e-mail did for the U.S. Postal Service? The implications cannot be denied.

For those businesses with marketing plans heavily concentrated on the business traveler, the target still exists but the bull’s eye appears to be shrinking. In order to respond, businesses must dial in the accuracy and effectiveness of their marketing efforts, consider expanding their focus more on the leisure market, or both.


More data about hotel reviews – infographic

Olery has shared the following data via their infographic:

  • The Average Hotel got 238 reviews in 2011
  • 81% of travelers find user reviews important
  • 49% of travelers won’t book a property without reviews
  • 53% of reviews are written by women… and women give a 10% higher rating than men when they do write a review!

[Read more…]

More Data on the Power of Facebook and Travel Decisions

According to a 2011 poll featured on UK-based flight comparison site, 52% of Facebook users stated that seeing friends’ vacation pictures inspired them to book a trip to that particular place.

According to Friend2Friend, travelers are 80% more likely to book a trip from a friend liking a page than they are from responding to a traditional advertisement.

Consulting firm EyeforTravel released the 2012 report Social Media & Mobile Travel, which indicates that 7 out of 10 travel brands professed how social media has not only generated a remarkable amount of direct bookings from social media sites, but has also significantly improved engagement with customers.

The World Travel Market 2011 Industry Report states that more than one fifth, or 22%, of travel companies generate revenue from social media efforts and 27% are planning to make strides in social over the next 5 years.  The report further indicates that by 2016, social media will be in the forefront as a primary way to generate travel bookings and revenue for half of the travel industry.

Source: Forbes: How Facebook is Shaping your 2012 Travel Decisions

iPad and Tablet devices and the online hotel and travel consumer

More news has been coming on the tablet device user having higher conversion rates and spending more money.  Here are some additional sources supporting this that are relevant to the hotel and travel industries.

Research from e-commerce software specialist Ability Commerce which shows conversions on tablets outnumber those on smartphones by almost three to one.

The study, released in September, on three companies conducting a significant volume of business online, shows iPad users made up more than 55% of mobile commerce revenue while only accounting for 13% of mobile customer visits  for one company.

A second company saw 21% of its web traffic come via the iPad but 51% of its sales while the third saw 50% of their web traffic via the tablet device and 97% of all mobile revenue.

Research on 800 retailers released last year by Shopatron shows the average iPad conversion rate is seven times higher than for a smartphone device.

 14% of all travel related queries are coming from a mobile phone, compared to 4% in 2010.

Research entitled the ‘Beginning of the End of the PC Era?’ from web design and digital specialist Nucleus reveals the growth in traffic from mobile devices in January 2012 compared with August 2011 and shows luxury sites have the highest mobile penetration. The studied carried out on 10 UK and international travel websites reveals some have witnessed a doubling in mobile web browsing over the six months with the top site generating 24.2% of its traffic from tablets and smartphones.

Wave Collapse asked consumers to identify the last purchase on their tablet devices during April 2012 – here are the top five items:

  1. Hotel reservation – 22%
  2. DVD – 22%
  3. Clothing – 20%
  4. Books – 18%
  5. Air tickets – 17%

Evidence of the results of all this is certainly starting to emerge – online travel agency Travelocity says 55% of all its mobile bookings are now coming via tablet devices, according to director of mobile Jason Fulmines, with so-called “mobile-exclusive deals” generating a “good percentage” of hotel bookings.

Read More at Tnooz: iPad and other tablets starting to challenge old web shopping behaviour and Google sees higher conversions from tablets – cars, sofas and houses among purchases and Research shows massive surge in iPad travel browsing

Travel Stats from Google’s new thinkinsights

Google has a new portal for users to discover interesting stats: thinginsights

I discovered this there:

  • 62% of personal travelers use search engines as the number one source for travel information. Google/OTX, Traveler’s Road to Decision 2010, U.S, Sept 2010

  • 51% of business travelers use mobile devices to get travel information, more than double the rate of two years ago. Google/OTX, The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011

  • 46% of personal travelers are watching travel-related videos, versus 36% two years ago. Google/OTX, The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011

Adwords Stats (non-travel)

  • Over 89% of traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic search results when ads are paused. Google, Search Ads Pause Study, Global, Jul 2011

  • Two-line sitelinks increase click-through rates by more than 30%*. Google Internal Data 2011, *Compared to standard Adwords ads

Video ads can help your Brand Search:

  • Consumers exposed to a YouTube homepage ad are 437% more likely to engage in a key brand activity on the same day than those unexposed.

Booking Window Patterns From Mobile Users – Tonite and Tomorrow

Dennis Schaal at Tnooz shares a gem of booking data on the mobile booking window, based upon a GuestCentric study of mobile booking patterns at 300 hotels over a three month period:

  • 60% of mobile consumers are looking for hotel reservations tonight or tomorrow night;
  • 90% of mobile bookings take in some of the next six nights (i.e. tonight, tomorrow night or the following four nights);
  • 90% of mobile consumers book one to three nights; and
  • 95% of mobile consumers book one room.