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Global OTA Customer: The value of the international booker for U.S. hotel properties


Expedia looked at 2016-2017 booking data for international inbound guests to the U.S. and uncovered great insights on the value of this worldly guest.

Global customer reach is invaluable for hotels. The many advantages that come with an international booker include a higher average daily rate, and longer length of stay. And while this may seem more advantageous for independent hotels and small chains, since global hotel chains also have a worldwide reach, when you factor in international packages, it’s clear that all hotels stand to benefit from international guests who book through OTAs. Companies like Expedia are helping hotel partners not only reach incremental travelers, but identifying those that provide the highest value to properties in any market.

Expedia looked at 2016-2017 booking data[1] for international inbound guests to the U.S. and uncovered great insights on the value of this worldly guest.

Spend & Booking Window Advantages
International bookers spend more than domestic bookers. On average, international bookers have a 20 percent higher average daily rate (ADR) than domestic. In Houston for example, the international versus domestic visitor ADR is $119 vs. $99, and in Atlanta, the international ADR is $134 compared to $112 ADR for domestic stays.

And an even bigger advantage? Booking window. It’s three times as long, from an average of more than 45 days for international, versus 15 days for domestic. New York’s international inbound booking window is twice the length of domestic, and length of stay is also nearly double.

Room Night Stays
Another advantage on the international guest front: data shows that overseas visitors on average have longer stays. The international booking average is longer in duration by one day than domestic (nearly 3 days, versus under 2 days).

In markets like Orlando and Manhattan, the international length of stay is more than 85 percent longer than domestic stays (over 4 days versus over 2 days, and 4 days versus over 2 days respectively). Las Vegas sees a more than 40 percent longer length of stay for international visitors (more than 3 days versus over 2 days), and Chicago international length of stay is 55 percent higher than domestic (nearly 3 days versus under 2 days).

“We value the international traveler Expedia brings to our property because of the longer length of stays and on-property spend they bring,” shared Richard Chandler, director of revenue management, The Confidante.

Top Destinations
International inbound travelers tend to flock to traditional top leisure markets, according to demand data. Overall, those are led by New York/Manhattan, Las Vegas, Orlando, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Oahu, San Diego and Chicago.

“Expedia’s international reach creates awareness of our property with international travelers, and brings increased revenues that we would not have if not for Expedia’s exposure with this international market,” said Debbie Selvarajoo, director of revenue, Pullman Miami Airport Hotel.

Where we see variations are by region, with EMEA and APAC differing by proximity. The top destination for EMEA is Manhattan, Oahu for APAC, and Orlando for Latin America.

When looking at flight data, Mesa, Arizona by far has the largest international visitor base on Expedia based on flight data, with the large majority of visitors coming from Canada. New York comes in second, with over 30 percent of Expedia visitors originating from an international market, followed by Miami and Newark (both over 25 percent international), and Honolulu rounds out the top five with just under 25 percent.

Other notable markets with strong international appeal are Los Angeles (nearly 25 percent), Fort Lauderdale (over 20 percent), Palm Springs and San Francisco (both roughly 20 percent) and Houston (over 15 percent).

Independent Attraction
International travelers were more inclined to stay at independent properties versus domestic travelers in the U.S. The top countries driving this higher independent share are all within Europe.

In New Orleans, 45 percent share of international stays were for independent hotels, versus 30 percent share of domestic demand.

Independent hotels in Salt Lake City saw more than 35 percent share of international demand, compared to less than 25 percent domestic.

Grand Canyon National Park-area independent hotels saw more than 60 percent share of international stays, with fewer than 50 percent domestic.

Package Bookings
Expedia package demand data, released earlier this year, confirmed that package bookers typically book a longer stay with a longer booking window, creating more incremental upsell opportunities before the guest arrives on site, as well as fewer cancellations and less decline in ADR.

Markets like New York show even stronger booking advantages for international package bookers. Forty percent of international inbounds in New York book packages, and show a longer booking window (nearly 85 nights average), with fewer cancellations.

How to Attract an International Audience
Expedia market managers from two top international markets, Rebecca Cregan from New York City and Silvia Caramota from Miami, weighed in on what helps hotels stand out to the international crowd.

1. Offer value adds that appeal to international travelers
Late checkout and early check-in are hugely valuable to international visitors, since international flights often arrive early in the day, and depart late. In addition, free breakfast is a given in European and Latin American hotels, so many travelers from these countries will expect the same from a U.S. property.

Also, since many international visitors don’t pay for international roaming for their mobile service, providing free WiFi in some capacity on site (whether in the lobby or property-wide) can also set a hotel apart.

2. Go even further with unexpected value adds that map to visitation habits
Both European and Latin American travelers are known to shop when traveling to the U.S. By advertising on-site shipping, and/or free package receipt and storage, hotels can increase their appeal.

“LatAm visitors to the Miami market will often shop online from shops they cannot access in their country, so they want to receive multiple shipments to their hotel, to later take back to their home,” shared Silvia Caramota, senior director, market management for Florida. “Offering free or discounted package storage and handling is appreciated by international travelers.”

“Hotels who offer a free duffle bag or suitcase for international visitors can really stand out and attract that target audience, who often have shopping as a priority for their visit,” said Rebecca Cregan, area manager, market management for New York City.

3. Offer Competitive Promotions
Offer a promotion or discount on non-refundable rates to attract international travelers.  Pricing for overseas customers is often different to capture a larger share of this guest segment, so it’s important that hotels monitor rate trends on all points of sale to help engage and convert this attractive traveler segment.

4. Utilize Revenue Management Tools
Rev+ within Expedia PartnerCentral enables hotel partners to monitor pricing by origin, so making sure you are monitoring pricing trends on international points of sale for international guests is critical.

5. Leverage TravelAds
With TravelAds from Expedia Media Solutions, a pay-per-click offering, hotels can target specific international points of sale and increase their visibility with international travelers during peak booking periods.

6. Know your top inbounds, and target your offering to them
While New York’s top inbound markets are all EU (UK, Germany and France), Miami’s top international inbound market is Brazil, and Argentina and Mexico also make it into the top seven. There are nuances for visitors in every market – so make sure you connect with your Expedia market managers to know who your international travelers are, and how best to reach them.

[1] Demand data for travel during 12 months ending June 2017, VR excluded, U.S. POS

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