As we learned in part one of this series, the hotel guest booking journey is a long process that travellers usually put a lot of time and effort into.
They don’t do anything on a whim and they ensure they’re using all the information available to them. It stands to reason hotels should be investing a similar amount of endeavour into their sales and marketing if they want to capture the amount of bookings they truly deserve.
To help hotels better understand how they keep their brand in the eyes of guests throughout their booking journey, we looked at the path to purchase in detail.
The guest booking journey is not an exact science
The first thing to understand about the way guests choose their travel is that there is no algorithm that can trace or predict what they’ll do. There are too many individual factors that enter into the decision.
Often travellers make a choice because it simply ‘feels right’. Knowing what evokes this feeling is quite difficult, but a sense of familiarity certainly helps. Building trust and even the slightest of emotional bonds between you and a potential guest could seal the deal.
To do this, you need to represent your hotel across as many consumer touchpoints as possible. The brand that can make a traveller feel good and secure about their choice is one that’s going gain more attention over time.
7 key booking journey stages for your hotel brand
Long before a traveller has any idea your hotel even exists they’re struck by the inspiration or desire to take a trip. This comes in the form of a fantasy or daydream, thinking about all the possibilities of an amazing holiday. It might be due to seeing friends and family on trips or simply that they’re getting run down by work.
At this stage they have no definitive plan to go anywhere in particular. Everywhere they’ve ever considered is an option.
Hotel Tip #1
The average traveller can visit over 20 different travel websites before they finally make a booking decision. In this stage, guests are searching for a destination to settle on and reasons to book one accommodation over another.
Hotel Tip #2
This is where your website has to be strong. Build a website that is functional, SEO-friendly, and optimised for all devices. You should also ask yourself how compelling your images are and how engaging your content is. Another factor, which is just as important, is your presence on OTAs. Work hard to perfect your profile and manage online reviews.
By now travellers have settled on a destination and are probably weighing up between a couple of different accommodation options. Not only is it about how attractive the hotel offering is, but also how easy the booking process itself is.
Hotel Tip #3
An effective online booking engine is paramount here, Ideally, guests will be able to make a booking within a couple of clicks and have the options to to pick and choose extras and packages that appeal to them. Your booking engine should also integrate seamlessly with your website and channel manager for improved functionality and data collection.
Immediately after they’ve booked is perhaps when guests will be most excited about their trip. Capitalise on this by communicating with them regularly.
Hotel Tip #4
Use your hotel app or email to message them and offer additional services, provide information on amenities in your hotel, or advise them on things to do in the local area. If you don’t use any marketing automation software, your booking engine can take care of this pre-stay communication.
You may have already won the sale, but this is still an important phase for how the guest responds to your business. The experience they have in your hotel is extremely important for the future success of the property.
Hotel Tip #5
Work as hard as you can to cater for every guest’s need and give them an enjoyable stay. This comes down to the quality of your hotel staff, the upkeep of your property, and ensuring you maintain the same level of communication you had before the guest booked.
The reason it’s so important for you to keep guests happy is that the more they’re enjoying themselves, the more likely it is they’ll share their experiences. A huge 97% of millennials say they share pictures while travelling (on channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat).
Hotel Tip #6
Give travellers a reason to share and tag your property on social media. Offer incentives or loyalty rewards. Sites like TripAdvisor are also important. Try to get guests to leave (positive) reviews and make sure you’re always managing and responding to the reviews you receive. If future travellers are researching their next trip, you want them to see positive messages so they trust you enough to make a booking.
You should consider internal guest surveys so you can pre-empt any issues in the future and continue to work to make the guest experience even better in the future, to please returning guests, and encourage new ones to recommend your hotel.
The best hotels know that once you have a relationship with a guest, it should never end. While loyalty may be fading, many travellers will still return to the same hotel if they enjoyed their stay. A returning guest is always cheaper to acquire than a new one and if you can make it happen, it means you’re providing exceptional service. This will naturally mean your reviews will improve and engagement on social media will increase.
Hotel Tip #7