Connect with Travelers at Every Stage of their Journey

By Carolyn Childs Principal, | November 09, 2014

Not so long ago, Hotel meta-search site Trivago launched in Australia with a very heavy TV-based advertising campaign (see video at the bottom of the page). The campaign cleverly builds on the desire travelers have to get the best deal (or the Fear of Missing Out - FOMO - that others have got a better deal than we have).

But as I watched the ad, I once again felt the challenges that we face in trying to make a living from what we love. The information age has created unparalleled opportunities for us to connect with our customers, but its transparency makes it increasingly hard to build yield.

Tools such as dynamic pricing are helping but even better would be to create the kind of stickiness with the consumer that means we can more often connect earlier with them and command a premium - and even upsell them.

Over the years I've worked to develop and refine a 7-step 'path to purchase' model (see below) that recognizes the first purchase point is not your last and includes decisions both en route and in destination. It also recognizes that your trip may influence my travel decisions as well as your own future ones.

Yet typically, most brands tend only to communicate at a few stages - typically the most crowded ones.

To build that emotional relationship, it's important to understand that needs differ across the process. So it's also about how you talk to people at each stage and where you do so. Increasingly, you also want them talking to each other on your behalf.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.