The Organic Return Blog

How Consumers Shop and Buy Year Round

We recently took part in a workshop at The Assembly, which is a gathering of over 350 like-minded stakeholders in the mountain resort communities. The workshop we participated in was focused on "how Consumers Shop and Buy Year Round", and for my portion of the workshop I focused on high level demographics with a focus on what is working and what is not working on attracting, re-engaging, and ultimately getting bookings for our resort clients. In order to present compelling data we looked at what our clients in the western mountain region were seeing in their typical online visitor and how they are interacting directly with brand sites.

In order to identify buyer behavior and show exactly what the buyer looks like to these sites we reviewed behavior and demographic data pulled directly from Google Analytics. We reviewed Analytics Data covering 2014 and 2015 in order to identify current trends. Here is an overview of our findings for 

The findings that we shared on how people shop and buy travel are as follows:

Traveler Demographics

The western regional traveler: 

  1. Overall Males are the majority when it comes to site visits and purchasers for vacations in the west.
  2. Majority of site visitors and bookers are over 45.
  3. Majority of Revenue is still coming from US travelers.
  4. Millennial travelers visiting brand sites have been fairly flat with growth only being around 2% from 2014 and 2015. 
  5. The amount of online revenue generated from the millennial visitor to a brand site is increasing.
    1. In some cases clients were seeing an increase of over 100% of online revenue generated in the site visitor between the ages of 18-34.


Mobile Usage:

Resort Traveler Mobile Growth

In almost every case we are continuing to see mobile traffic increase while desktop traffic decreases for brand sites. Typically people are researching travel options on mobile devices and later booking at the desktop. While we are seeing mobile increase year over year we are still seeing a majority of bookings still occurring on the desktop with slow adoption of mobile booking being a result of the poor mobile booking experience being provided to site visitors. While at times the front end of resort sites might be great and built using the best responsive techniques once people enter the booking experience it is not responsive and a lot of the time it is an extremely poor user experience. A lot of the locations and resorts in this study and for that matter across the western us are still late to adopting a mobile first approach to website design and development. The other issue is that a lot of the brand sites rely on third party booking engines other tools that are not responsive and provide the end user with a less than desirable experience.  

Key takeaways for mobile traffic:

  1. Majority of bookings occur on desktop
  2. Mobile continues to grow as desktop drops only a matter of time before mobile takes over traffic and bookings  (phone and tablet).
  3. Majority of bookings will increase in the coming years as mobile booking experience gets better.
  4. People are researching on mobile but booking on desktop. (same as what retail market is seeing)


Attracting and re-engaging visitors:

  1. Organic search continues to be the top booking source
  2. Referral traffic from sites like trip advisor and others are still a necessary part of attracting guests.
  3. Paid Search and Display our key to your online strategy.
  4. Email Marketing is a must and continues to provide high ROI.
  5. Social Advertising - 
    1. Facebook feels like its transitioning from a social network to a web portal. The usage is changing and as a direct correlation its advertising options are performing much better.
      1. Focus on mobile news feed and desktop news feed as they substantial perform better than ads on the right sidebar. 
    2. Twitter advertising - We are huge fans of what twitter's advertising platform can be. The ability to target users is great especially at real time. The problem with Twitter is it really needs to figure itself out. 
  6. Cross Device Targeting 


The discussions in our workshop were great and my co-panelists had great insights into mobile first design, sharing of shopping carts, and creating compelling content. 

If you have any questions or would like to find out how we can help your marketing efforts please feel free to contact us.  

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Organic Return
970-366-4700 15 Kerns Rd, Snowmass Village, CO 81615
15 Kerns Rd, Snowmass Village, CO 81615