Using the Stages of the Traveler’s Cycle to your Advantage
Updated: Oct 23, 2019
When most people think of traveling, they don’t think of the different stages. But as a hotelier and marketer, it is our job to break things down to help us help our guests and clients to make the most of each phase. Google has identified 5 distinct stages of travel. We have work to do during all of them to not only target our clients at each point, but to enhance and motivate those clients and prospects into becoming lifelong fans of our products.
For most hotels, the booking is the final goal of their marketing efforts. Unfortunately, many only focus on a linear path from when the consumer plans and researches their travel right to when they make a booking for their hotel. Sadly, after the guest gets their reservation numbers, some hotels move on and miss the opportunity to instill brand loyalty and use their experiences at your hotel as part of your marketing efforts.
By incorporating the travelers cycle into your various sales and marketing tactics, you can and should target travelers at each phase in this process. Regardless of whether the customer is dreaming about their next vacation or experiencing it firsthand, you have ample opportunity to connect with your customers at each of these key moments in their travel buying cycle.
Using the cycle as a guide, we’ll explore during the next few weeks how you might focus your efforts during each stage. This week will focus on the first stage:
Stage 1: DREAMING
Why is this stage important?
In 2011, 49% of leisure travelers reported researching online after viewing an online ad. Start that spark early and get potential guests moving through these 5 stages of travel. The dream is what starts the potential customer through the buying cycle.
All travelers start with a dream. Maybe you saw an episode of Hawaii Five-O. Maybe your friend just posted a video on Facebook of their hilarious attempt at surfing. And to top it off, there’s a blizzard outside and you’ll be cooped up in the house for a week. You just need one sweet week of warm weather in a tropical paradise. The seed is planted, and you’re dream becomes a mission.
So how does a hotel reach this dreamer in stage 1?
Email marketing: Reach out to your past guests with a well-timed email campaign. Hopefully, you’ve made good use of collecting email addresses of interested prospects on your website or have been diligently collecting them at your front desk. This is now a solid list of interested travelers just waiting for that perfect vacation idea. Put an idea in their head. Timing it to their location (i.e. sending Chicago residents an inspiration email when they’re expecting a storm) or to known anniversaries (past visits and celebrations should always be noted in your CRM) increases open rates.
Social media: Encourage past guests to share their experiences on your social media channels. The end of their trip can be the spark that ignites the start of a future traveller’s trip. Expand your word-of-mouth reach by encouraging your guests to share and interact with your communities online. The social media component should be present at all stages and helps to tie the hotel to the user throughout the process.
Blog about it: Creating a blog, separate from your hotel or brand site, allows you to open possibilities for new and exciting content. With a blog, you are not bound by the confines of an accommodations page, a dining page, a services page and so on. Blog about top things to do in your city and update it as new events are announced. Don’t limit your blog to your hotel’s outlets. write about amazing new outlets that may have recently opened near your hotel. A blog not only allows you to generate new content, search engines crawl this new content quickly, giving you plenty of opportunities to rank for new niche keywords.
Next week we’ll explore stages 2 and 3… Planning and Booking