The President of the Rhode Island School of Design John Maeda once noted that seemingly opposite scientists (introverted and technical) and artists (uninhibited and expressive) are more similar than not. Much of their symmetry lies in their process. For instance, they ask the big questions about society, and they pursue these matters via open-ended inquiry in similar spaces where failure is welcome. Their ultimate goals and the path by which they arrive at conclusions have much in common.
While guest segments can be as different as scientists and artists regarding preference and proclivity, they do generally share one thing in common—the booking path. The process by which they travel. Understanding the guest booking path can, and should, influence sales, marketing, and revenue strategies because there are distinct tactics to employ at every stage. Over the next few weeks on this blog, we will explore each phase of the guest booking journey in detail, from what to know about travelers at every stage to which marketing strategies are most effective at each juncture to engage and convert.
Guest Booking Path Phases Include:
4) Pre-trip Excitement
5) The Stay
6) Post Stay
Let’s Explore Phase 1: The Dream
The spark that ignites a trip. Sometimes it’s a deal on airfare to a previously unexplored destination; sometimes it’s a nostalgic moment that drives a guest to return to a favorite locale. Sometimes it’s a beautiful image that comes across an Instagram feed; sometimes an article about a unique experience in Travel & Leisure. Being present during—or, better yet, inspiring the dream phase—can make your property a part of the entire booking path.
What’s Happening for Travelers During the Dream Phase?
During the Dream Phase travelers are asking themselves:
Where should I travel next?
What kind of experience am I looking for?
Where have my friends gone that looks amazing?
How They’re Searching During the Dream Phase?
Sixty-five percent of leisure travelers report researching online before they know where they want to travel. Of those, 65 percent use online sources like social networks and photos sites, and 62 percent rely on family, friends, and colleagues (both on- and off-line)
Searches may look like:
“Beaches within 20 miles of Richmond, VA”
“East Coast beach vacation”
“Best Beach in Virginia”
“Richmond VA vacation.”
What Should Hoteliers & VRMs Be Doing to Reach Guests in This Phase:
Staying top of mind for past guests is essential to becoming a part of the “Dream”. Not only will past guests return given the right circumstances or offer, but they also may influence the 62 percent who look for family and friend recommendations to guide their travel decisions. Automated email marketing to past guests can ensure your outreach is regularly maintained and built around the guest’s preferences (using a CRM). Create awareness among potentially new visitors to your area through a vibrant and widely available online presence, as well as savvy lead management.
NAVIS Tools for the Dream Phase:
- Automated, highly targeted email marketing (Reach)
- Capturing leads during the Dream Phase (Narrowcast Lead Management Tools)
- Be present across a spectrum of online outlets during the dream phase. How is your website appearing in search engine results and maps?
- Pique their interest with a social media presence. Have past guests post photos and inspiration, monitor reviews and comments in this area as well
For many hospitality providers, there is little understanding of the path by which travelers discover, learn, book, and experience their brand. Don’t forget that a traveler’s decision on when and where to travel is not correlated with your revenue goals. It is not going to fit perfectly with a package or a promo code. It’s clear that to be more strategic about how you provide information to your consumers, you need to have a stronger understanding of a traveler’s full journey and take advantage of all the opportunities to engage them at every touchpoint. The “Dream Phase” is just step 1. Stay tuned as we continue our exploration of the rest of the booking journey phases!