When a guest chooses to stay at a hotel, they have already gone through a process of decision-making. Understanding the customer journey, which includes all the steps and interactions a guest has with a hotel before, during and after their stay, can provide valuable insights for hoteliers in attracting new guests. In this article, we will explore the various touchpoints that guests encounter along the way, from initial discovery to booking a reservation.
What is the customer journey?
The customer journey is a term used in marketing to describe the path or experience a customer, in this case a guest, goes through before making a reservation. The goal, however, should not be limited to just making a reservation, but rather turning a one-time guest into a repeat and ultimately a regular guest. This has the added benefit of early booking and better occupancy rate planning for the hotel.
What are the stages of the customer journey in hotel marketing?
The first stage is travel inspiration, which sparks the desire to travel. This initial touchpoint can occur through various channels such as social media, the hotel's website, travel portals, and personal recommendations. The guest may gather information about the destination, receive insider tips, learn about the hotel and its offerings, and review special offers that ultimately influence their decision to make a reservation.
Converting the potential guest into a lead
As the potential guest conducts research, hoteliers should aim to convert them into a lead. This can be done by collecting their contact information, such as signing them up for hotel newsletters, and providing them with targeted, audience-specific information. The guest may compare hotel websites and seek out customer reviews. To facilitate this process, hotels should provide clear and detailed information on their website, through blogs, and on booking portals. Social media can also be an effective channel for establishing touchpoints, as it often includes a high degree of social proof.
Converting the lead into a contact
Once the potential guest has chosen to sign up for hotel newsletters, hotel marketing has successfully converted them into a contact. The guest has now shared their contact information with the hotel. By segmenting these contacts, the hotel can provide them with relevant information at the appropriate time.
Converting the contact into a guest
After several touchpoints have been established with the potential guest, they decide to make a reservation. This stage is crucial as it requires a smooth and seamless process to maintain the guest's trust. By sending encouraging messages after the reservation, the hotel can foster purchase loyalty and the guest can begin to look forward to their stay. Once the guest is on-site, it is important that their satisfaction with the entire process remains a top priority. This will determine whether the hotel will be included in their future travel plans. Factors that contribute to their satisfaction include cleanliness and good service. Additionally, how the hotel handles communication with the guest, such as addressing special requests or handling complaints, are also key touchpoints in the customer journey.
The final step in the customer journey is to build loyalty among guests. By sending targeted communication, hotels can motivate them to book again. This can include expressing appreciation for their trust, and regularly reminding them of their positive experience. Hotel marketing automation can support hotels in achieving higher occupancy rates by automating the marketing process.