Cornell Social Media and Online Channels Study Confirms That Travelers Take Different Web Search Approaches for Business and Leisure Travel

In addition to web search, company policy and recommendations of friends still weigh heavily in hotel information search

Cornell Center For Hospitality Research Although many trips start with information gathered from internet search engines and social media sites, two “old-fashioned” information sources are still heavily used by would-be hotel guests, according to a survey released by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR). Based on responses of 2,830 recent travelers, the social media study confirmed differences in travelers’ hotel search process depending on travel purpose. The study also outlines which types of internet site people are most likely to visit at various stages of their hotel-selection process.

The study found that the information source most frequently used by business travelers is their company’s hotel recommendations, while the top source for leisure travelers by far is the recommendations of family and friends. The study, “How Travelers Use Online and Social Media Channels to Make Hotel-choice Decisions,” by Laura McCarthy, Debra Stock, and Rohit Verma, is available at no charge from the Center for Hospitality Research at

“We found a distinct difference in the way business travelers and leisure travelers search for hotel information,” said Verma, who is a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and CHR executive director. “To begin with, most travelers cast a fairly wide net when they are gathering information for their trip. This early stage is where travelers consult social media and search engines, in addition to more traditional channels. When it’s time to book, however, travelers most frequently used hotel websites and online travel agents.”
McCarthy works on the TIG Global web marketing team, and Stock is marketing manager for Expedia. Both were seniors at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration at the time this study was conducted. “Working on this survey was a capstone to my Cornell education, and it gave me another perspective on web marketing,” said McCarthy. Added Stock, “Collaborating on a research project like this was perfect experience for moving into the online travel agency business.”

In addition to the study results, the report also presents current best practices by numerous firms in the hospitality industry and related businesses, as presented at recent CHR Roundtables and the Cornell Hospitality Research Summit. Among other firms, the report presents web initiatives by Forbes Travel Guides, Hilton Worldwide, J.D. Power and Associates, McDonald’s, and Royal Caribbean International.

Meet and interact with Professor Verma, an active member of the Executive Education faculty, at the School of Hotel Administration, when he presents sessions in the Professional Development Program:

About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 79 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit

Center Senior Partners: Hilton Worldwide, McDonald's USA, Philips Hospitality, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc., STR, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and TIG Global

Center Partners: Davis & Gilbert LLP, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, Denihan Hospitality Group, eCornell & Executive Education, Expedia, Inc., Forbes Travel Guide, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Fox Rothschild LLP, French Quarter Holdings, Inc., FX Real Estate and Entertainment, Inc., HVS, InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Group, LRP Publications, Marriott International, Inc., Marsh's Hospitality Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Proskauer Rose LLP, SAS, Smith Travel Research, SynXis (a Sabre Holdings Corporation), Thayer Lodging Group, Thompson Hotels, Travelport, WATG, and WhiteSand Consulting

Center Friends: • American Tescor, LLC • Argyle Executive Forum • Berkshire Healthcare • Cody Kramer Imports • Cruise Industry News • DK Shifflet & Associates • • EyeforTravel • Gerencia de Hoteles & Restaurantes • Global Hospitality Resources • Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) • • • Hospitality Technology Magazine • Hotel Asia Pacific • Hotel China • • Hotel Interactive • Hotel Resource • HotelWorld Network • International CHRIE • International Hotel Conference • International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) • iPerceptions • JDA Software Group, Inc. • Lodging Hospitality • Lodging Magazine • Milestone Internet Marketing • MindFolio • Mindshare Technologies • Parasol • PhoCusWright Inc. • PKF Hospitality Research • The Resort Trades • RealShare Hotel Investment & Finance Summit • Resort and Recreation Magazine • • Shibata Publishing Co. • Synovate • The Lodging Conference • TravelCLICK • UniFocus • USA Today • WageWatch, Inc. • WIWIH.COM

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