Despite the majority of visitors to hospitality and tourism websites (72%) actually being repeat visitors, most travellers still find such sites via search engines, whether they've used the site before or not, according to the 'Q3/2012 Online Satisfaction and Experience in the Hospitality Industry' report from iPerceptions and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI). This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

Only one in four visitors to these web sites actually typed in the brand's web address or domain name to reach the website, although this number did actually increase over the past year, suggesting that promotional efforts may have helped with brand awareness and recall.

The share of visitors accessing hospitality and tourism websites via an email link also increased significantly from 2% the previous year to 7% in Q3 2012. This indicates that marketing efforts employed by brands has been working to drive visitors to their websites. Bookmarking tracked as a distant third with only 9% of visitors accessing the website through this channel. This suggests either that brand loyalty has not been optimised, or that typing in the web address serves as a proxy for bookmarking since recalling the address is a form of brand identification.

"The hospitality space is becoming exponentially more competitive and therefore it is imperative for brands they provide an intuitive website with content that is clearly laid out with a smooth, hassle-free booking process," said Duff Anderson, vice president of insight for iPerceptions. "Voice of Customer (VoC) data provides an excellent basis for which brands can identify what the pain points are for their customers, but understanding how they should be addressed and repaired can be complex. Usability audits compliment VoC research and, together, they can provide a roadmap for site improvement strategies and optimising overall online brand health."

Most hospitality and tourism websites experienced mostly repeat visitors (72%) in Q3 2012 and, because business travellers tend to be more frequent travellers than their leisure counterparts, repeat website visits were more common among this group. Importantly, however, first time visitors within the business demographic increased significantly over the previous 12 months.

The full 'Hospitality Industry Report Q3 2012' has been made available as a PDF download from the iPerceptions web site - click here (free registration required).