I’ve recently (and not so recently) seen quite a few reports from marketing companies touting “mobile accounts for 40% of all travel reservations” and “Facebook ads account for 30% of wedding sales” etc. without giving providence of where this information was coming from, and more importantly, what demographic are they actually soliciting these surveys from.
This actually refers to pretty much any report that references “X” number of people surveyed, and doesn’t actually provide a source of where those surveyed came from. I would exclude sources such as Tripadvisor, Cornell Hospitality, Hubspot, any of the Smartbriefs and Social Media Examiner, as their surveys are culled from their direct email lists and members, and I would gauge information from them is more likely to be accurate.
While I don’t doubt that mobile use is in a step incline as well as perhaps mobile bookings, and some Facebook advertising does indeed work, I would ask that companies and journalists who make these claims, and refer to statistics, provide some more information about their sources.
I recently had a client ask me about some statistics that an online article touted, and he came to me asking whether I thought they were accurate or not. It concerned click through rates and click fraud (or a claim of lack thereof) on Google Adwords. This sparked a discussion about where these so called survey statistics were coming from.
Doing quite a bit of digging turned up very few legitimate survey outlets where one could submit a survey and have a fairly large number of results returned. One of the legitimate ones being Mechanical Turk (through Amazon). Being the curious person that I am, I signed up, heaven help me.
I discovered several things very quickly. One, I really stink at transcription (which is the only thing that actually pays anything). Two, I was amazed by the number of legitimate colleges, news outlets and marketing firms posting surveys on there (I am not allowed to say who), and three, this is NOT something to make a little extra money at, unless you are unemployed, or have some other reason for being stuck at home for many many consecutive hours at a time.
In three weeks and over the course of perhaps 6+ hours (taking brief breaks from real work) I managed to make the amazing sum of $36.00 doing various and assorted surveys and tasks for anywhere from $1.00 to .50 cents. It will at least pay for a couple of bottles of wine for the sake of research. I made a whopping $2.50 filling out a yes, you guessed it, travel survey, one of three I ended up doing.
The reason I bring this up, is the people that are spending time filling out these surveys, are probably not the middle to upper class traveler who inns want to be marketing to. They are more likely to be unemployed, the bored housewife/househusband or someone with not much better to do.
So this begs the question. Are the demographics for some of these surveys skewed and are they to be trusted? I would suspect yes, they are skewed and not to be trusted entirely.
The information being garnered in these is in my eyes quite questionable. The majority ask for things like yearly income. How many people fib on their taxes? How many people do you think stretch the truth a bit here? “I am unemployed and have been for several years but oddly enough my income is over 80K………………………”. And I take 3 fabulous vacations every year in the Caribbean.
I call attention to this in order for lodging and lodging marketing companies to ask when you see articles come up with statistics, but no verifiable proof of demographic information, to question both the article/post/whitepaper writer, and to take the information with a grain of salt.
To often I am hearing innkeepers or other tourism related industries referencing information that is questionable and has a questionable providence. When information that isn’t verified is passed along, it ads to the confusion of what innkeepers should be believing, and also taking into account on where they need to spend their marketing dollars.
As an example: If an innkeeper must make the decision to pay extra on an online outlet, for the extra exposure of having a mobile special available, it would behoove inns to be operating on the correct, or at least fairly accurate estimation of how many reservations are actually made by mobile, through that outlet, instead of information perhaps gathered from people that probably had never stayed in a B&B in their life.
And as the old saying goes, anything posted on the internet, must be true. So ask for sources and providence before believing everything you read.