Hotel Booking Channel Attribution Tidbits From Expedia Report

Millward Brown Digital conducted a study for Expedia Inc. to uncover the visitor’s click flow toward actually making their final hotel and flight bookings. The purpose of the study was to pinpoint where travelers began their site searches for hotels/flights and what channels were used to get to their secondary moves all the way to what sources impacted the traveler’s actual booking.


The Study premise was the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) definition for Attribution. The IAB defines Attribution as “the process of identifying a set of actions or events that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome, and the assigning of value to each of these events”.


Millward used a funnel approach by first establishing where the visitor received their inspiration to initiate their search followed by influence factors from their initial search and then ended with where the actual hotel booking was made. All this to set values and give credit to the various search channels that led to a final booking.


Hotel Search Channel Tidbits:

  • Package bookers made a total of 38 visits to travel sites 45 days before booking with 2.5 average travel site visits 5 weeks out and a final 15.5 average travel site visits the week of the booking.
  • In terms of industry market share, the largest percentage of visitors that actually booked were through the supplier at 65.5% of the time followed by 30.6% through OTAs and 3.9% through Meta searches
  • Of 144 Unique Scenarios, 28,565,866 Instances Study shows:
  • Inspiration started with visiting Supplier sites 40% of the time and OTA’s a close second at 39% followed by a Meta search 21% of the time.Influence factors mid-way in the visitor’s search put OTA’s at the top with 49% of the time followed by Suppliers at 36% and Meta searches at 14%
  • The final booking was through the Supplier 51% of the time, followed by OTA’s at 40% and Meta searches at 10%
  • The most common search paths taken by hotel bookers from inspiration to final booking:
  • Highest ranking showed that 7.2% of the time booker inspiration, mid search and actual booking came through the supplier.
  • In second place at 4.5% of the time, booker initial inspiration was through OTA’s, then split between Meta and OTA’s in mid search and final actual booking came through OTA’s.
  • Placing third at 4.4% of the time booker inspiration was through a Meta search, moved to mid search that was split once again between Meta and OTA’s and then final booking came through OTA’s yet again.


Mid-search inspiration points:

  • Mid-level search initiating from Supplier site inspiration came through the Supplier site 38% of the time, OTAs 37% of the time and Meta 25% of the time
  • Mid-level search initiating from Meta searches came to the Supplier sites through OTA’s 61% of the time, Supplier site directly 32% of the time and Meta search 6% of the time


Actual Booking shows:

  • If search initiated with OTAs, bookings were finalized 44% of the time through OTAs, 42% through Meta searches and 34% of the time directly through Supplier site.
  • If search initiated through a Meta search, bookings were made 23% of the time through OTAs, 25% through Meta and 20% of the time directly through Supplier site.
  • If search initiated through the Supplier site, bookings were finalized 33% of the time through OTAs evenly with Meta searches at 33% but 46% of the time directly through supplier sites.


Media Approach based on Study conclusions:

  • Marketer’s need to consider the relevance of OTAs because whether it was the booker’s initial search, mid-way search or final booking, OTAs were used at all three points.
  • Meta searches move more business to OTAs “than any other travel group” so marketers need to consider their relationships in order to create more effective media strategies.
  • Though a visitor’s initial search might start with Meta or OTAs, the Study shows that visitors will more than likely book directly on supplier sites. So marketer’s need to motivate bookers with incentives that stand out in their minds and keeps them coming back directly to the Supplier site.