The Traveler's Journey: How to Win at Every Stage
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
For you to be a successful hotelier, you must know the Traveler’s Journey by heart. Traditionally, we viewed that this journey begins when we welcome our guests at the property. We should understand that this begins when someone gets inspired to travel after hearing a friend’s story or seeing an influencer’s post.
Let’s walk through the 5 stages of traveler’s journey and see how we, as hoteliers can win our guests every step of the way.
Stage 1: Dreaming
The journey begins when a person desires to travel. People nowadays value experiences more than owning things. Being digital natives, these desires are easily triggered by what they see online. According to Rappler, 76 million Filipinos have social media accounts and of which, 75 million are on Facebook. This much people are exposed to content that can influence them to travel.
How to win: BE VISIBLE
You need to have online presence. Start by creating social media channels that clearly communicate your brand. These platforms are the easiest and cheapest way to reach your potential guests. Being visible doesn’t stop on signing-up on these channels. You must also stay relevant by consistently posting updated and well thought-of content.
Stage 2: Planning
After the desire to travel, the Planning comes. This is when a traveler has chosen a destination and goes into the trip details: setting a budget, choosing a travel date, looking for a stay, searching for sights to see, checking on food and tours to experience.
How to win: BE BEAUTIFUL & EXCITING
You need a creatively designed website that’s easy to navigate and has all the data the traveler needs to finalize their plan. Make sure all information about your brand is the same and up to date on all your profiles - social media and Online Travel Agencies (OTA). You can also keep it exciting by showing good quality property or lifestyle photos and positive reviews about your hotel.
Stage 3: Booking
In this stage the traveler secures their plan. A constantly increasing number of people prefer a do it DIY route: booking online - saving more money and getting instant confirmation. A traveler is always looking for that sweeter deal and visits an average of 34 online pages from the dreaming phase before they settle. More are aware of the convenience of booking directly, prefer having a variety of payment options, and want to engage with the hotel before they finally reserve or arrive.
How to win: BE AVAILABLE AND ENGAGING
You’re just one step away in getting your guest. To seal the deal, you need to be available online and offline. Be ready to answer inquiries from Facebook to phone calls. The best practice is to make your website desktop and mobile adaptive and having a booking engine that allow travelers to instantly book their stay without hassle. Direct booking means no commission! There are property management systems that help hotels manage real time availability on all platforms, getting more bookings, then increasing your revenue.
Stage 4: Experiencing
This stage is all about the stay, from the moment your guests arrive at the hotel until they leave.
How to win: BE ROCKSTARS
It’s time for you to welcome your guests and show them what you’ve got. Make sure to live up to the promises that you set from the dreaming stage. Win this stage by having a well-trained team combined with a well-maintained property. Every person should be a rockstar, be present for your guests, be focused on giving consistent and genuine service aligned with your brand. Training might sound easy but it takes a lot of effort and time. The goal is to get the team to thoroughly understand and live by the brand and the culture you desire to have in the property. This way, everyone runs on one goal: to give the guest an excellent experience with you. Also, don’t forget to evaluate the workload of your team members - it might be the administrative work that’s holding them back from being able to extend that excellent service. Properties can outsource those tedious admin work to take the load off of the front operations and help them focus on making the guests happy.
Stage 5: Sharing
Who does not share in social media a photo of their mojito on the beach? Users not only want to travel, but want others to know their experiences. That brings us to the last stage of the Traveler’s Journey, Sharing.
This is the most critical because your hotel’s reputation and image is reliant on this. How the traveler expresses their experience is based on the overall journey with your brand. What your guests share contributes to your brand’s reputation and may be a form of free advertisement. It has two endpoints - a good or a bad story - whichever way it ends, there’s always something that you can do.
How to win: BE PROACTIVE
The guests leaving doesn’t mean the journey is over. Make sure to nurture them even after their stay with the hopes of converting them to regulars. Sending post-stay emails will do the trick! These emails can vary from thank you emails to promotional email blasts contributing to both brand retention and customer loyalty. With all these efforts, let’s face it, you still cannot please everyone. When a guest has given you a bad review, the best thing to do is to respond proactively and professionally. Calmly responding to a bad review can be difficult especially if it’s a false claim. Knowing how to manage your reputation well is crucial in attracting potential guests, this is one of their main considerations in choosing where to stay. Did you know that there are professional reputation managers that can help you in this area?