Hotel Guest Journey Mapping in 7 Steps

posted by Daniil Tarakanov on 27.08.2020

Establishing a loyal customer base has everything to do with forming positive relationships with your clientele.

As a hotelier you’ll have various opportunities to do just that, especially when you consider how many points of contact there are along your guest’s journey to booking a room.

You must consider your ability to influence the consumer at each stage of their journey, utilizing opportunities to connect with them and make a lasting impression.

To deliver authentic value to your customers, you must put yourself in their shoes so you can understand and truly satisfy their requirements. A great way to achieve this is by mapping the guest journey from booking to departure.

By understanding the perspective of travelers and what drives their booking decisions, you’ll be poised to ensure your target demographic invests their money in the right place.

Your customer journey map will provide various opportunities to engage and interact with future guests, while wooing them with the right products and tools. Evaluating your business along the customer journey is a vital marketing component of any successful hotel.

Here are seven crucial steps to successfully mapping the hotel guest journey, including an overview of the tools you can use to contact your guests, and the tools your guests will use along the way:

1. Inspiration

Prospective guests will be inspired by various factors in the build up to choosing a hotel. One of the earliest stages of the customer journey is when they get the inspiration to travel.

Consumers are generally inspired by sources like advertisements and friends, however the overall driving force behind their journey is the destination. If customers are intrigued by the concept of traveling to your hotel’s destination, there’s a much greater chance you’ll secure their business.

A great way to inspire travelers is by posting inspirational content on social media. By promoting the attractive nature of the destination in question, consumers will be inspired to visit the area you’re promoting and you’ll be better positioned to receive their custom.

You can post everything from exciting activities in the area, specific benefits of booking a trip to your hotel and other incentives to travel to the destination. The overall goal is to motivate your target audience to plan ahead and ultimately book a trip to your hotel.

Another hospitality industry trend involves sharing the posts of current guests. This will highlight some of the best reasons to visit the destination in question, offering a persuasive first person perspective.

What Tools Are Used at This Stage?

Travellers will subconsciously or actively seek inspiration for their travels from social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat and more.

They’ll also be inspired by word of mouth, newspapers, blogs and magazines like National Geographic.

To reach your audience where they’re most active, you’d be wise to use social media management tools like Squarelovin or Hootsuite, and press communication tools like Babbler.

2. Research 

Once your prospective guest has secured a list of possible destinations, preferably influenced by your inspirational content, they’ll begin to assess the options at their disposal.

The research your audience conducts will enable them to determine their destination and the time of their trip. This decision is often motivated by price, especially when travelers are on a budget.

During this stage, travelers will begin to visualize what they’ll be doing in each destination, how they’ll stay on budget, their travel options, the best time to travel, etc. 

But how exactly does the traveler reach a conclusion on their destination, time of trip and ultimately hotel of choice? Let’s take a look at some commonly used methods:

Traveller’s Tools

Feedback is a common barometer for choosing a destination, where consumers generally use tools like TripAdvisor and Google Maps to make an informed decision.

Other tools used are travel blogs, forums, tourist guides, and commonly comparison sites like Trivago, Kayak and Google Hotels.

Hotel Tools

As your future guest narrows their options, you’d be wise to use meta engine management tools like Koddi, Meta I/O, Octorate, Mirai metasearch and others.

You can also connect with your customers using Google platform listings like Google my Business, and by exploring digital advertising tools like Sojern.

3. Shop, Book

Having elected a destination and date of travel, the consumer will begin to meticulously evaluate their available options.

They’ll start to compare hotels more stringently, comparing prices while booking other essential elements like train and plane tickets.

This stage differs slightly from the research stage because the traveler will have narrowed their options considerably, yet are still openly examining their options using factors like best quality to price ratio etc.

Travellers will split their time between Online Travel Advisors (OTAs) and hotel websites, utilizing the information at their disposal to make the best possible decision. They’ll assess their options based on factors like reputation, location, recommendations and budget before booking a room at your hotel if you’ve met their requirements.

If your hotel is situated in an area with a high concentration of hotels, travelers are more likely to use comparison websites to aid their decision. Here consumers can take advantage of various filters and decide on something within their parameters, including price points.

What Tools Are Crucial During This Stage?

Travellers will use OTAs like Hotels.com, Expedia, Booking and Airbnb. They’ll also use your hotel website, which must include up-to-date information, highlighting your hotel in a way that entices guests to take favorable action.

From the hotel perspective, you should be using booking engines and channel managers like SynXis, D-Edge and Siteminder. You should also look at conversion assistance on your hotel site with tools like HiJiffy and Triptease.

4. Prepare

Having decided on a destination and booked the hotel, most travelers will start preparing their journey during the time leading up to their departure.

They’ll look at what they can do during their trip, refine their itinerary, prepare a packing list, and check they have the correct documents to fly. You can capitalize on this time by reassuring your guest, something which will help you differentiate and ultimately secure repeat custom.

Confirm you’re waiting for your guest by contacting them, and even offer to check them in in advance to provide additional reassurance. You can take this opportunity to give them your address and information to help them find your establishment, perhaps offering to arrange transport and indicate the opening hours of your Reception.

You can even go that extra mile by suggesting local recommendations and what guests will need during their stay, maximizing the value of communicative exchanges to personalize the experience and secure a positive customer relationship. Consequently, this will have a better chance of extending beyond the visit in question.

What Tools Are Crucial at this Stage?

Communication channels are essential from both perspectives, whether it’s Email, WhatsApp, Facebook, SMS or other. Your guest will also take advantage of the guest portal provided via your website, and activities in the destination and booking tool.

As a hotelier you can take advantage of communication tools like Zingle, Bookboost and LoungeUp, and upselling tools like Oaky, LoungeUp and Nor1.

5. In-House Experience

Once your guest has arrived, you can truly nail the customer experience by doing all you can to appease them. The in-house experience begins when your guest checks in and ends when they check out, while covering everything they do during their stay.

At this point, your guest will begin sharing their experience online, information which is crucial for boosting the reputation of your business and ultimately securing more business.

The journey to the hotel is included as well, which is why promoting your own form of transport can help to secure a memorable first and hopefully continued positive experience. It is in your best interests to make sure your guest’s trip to the hotel goes well.

Provide all the information necessary for guests to arrive in a stress-free fashion, and once on site ensure a smooth, hassle-free stay, beginning with an arrival in good humor and a streamlined check out procedure.

Traveller’s Tools

  • Communication tools: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, Chatbots
  • Hotel room tablet / Digital display
  • Guest portal / Hotel Application
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram

Hotel Tools

  • Domotic systems: 4 Smart Hotel, iReckonU, Robot bas
  • CRM: LoungeUp
  • Check-in online: StayNTouch, Ariane, Mews, Tabhotel
  • Sending of Messages: Zingle, Bookboost, LoungeUp
  • Wi-Fi: Nomosphere, Passman, Wifirst
  • Smart door locks: Salto, Assa Abloy, Onity
  • Hotel Application / Guest portal: Intelity, Criton, LoungeUp, Suitepad

6. Share & Review

When guests have returned from their trip, they’ll begin the process of telling others about their experience. This is usually via word of mouth and online, where guests remind themselves of the good memories and relive their holiday.

When a guest has enjoyed their experience, they’ll be much more likely to communicate how much they enjoyed their stay. If so, they’ll essentially become a promoter for your establishment, making this a crucial part of the customer journey.

Your customer’s feedback will ultimately increase the amount of bookings to your hotel, providing it’s good feedback of course!

What Tools Are Used During this Stage

Customers will use feedback platforms like Google Reviews and TripAdvisor to share their experiences. They’ll also share photos and stories on social media sites like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Google Photos.

As a hotelier, you’ll rely on satisfaction questionnaires, which are commonly sent after your customer’s stay. You can use tools like Reputize, Revinate, LoungeUp, Guest Suite, Customer Alliance and more.

7. Remember & Return

Here you can secure a loyal customer base, regular guests who are likely to return after a great experience. What’s important is to subsequently remind your guests of their great stay, so they’ll bear your hotel in mind the next time they travel.

A satisfied guest will be inclined to revisit, so you should give them the opportunity to do so. You can contact your guests to remind them of their pleasant stay, offer them a chance to return at a discount price, or even promote similar experiences at one of your other hotels.

Showing a level of gratitude to your guests goes a long way, an extra touch which will help them feel valued and appreciated.

Ensure you personalize your reminders, varying messages depending on the type of stay they’ve experienced. You should segment your guests into categories, delivering different post-stay information based on the type of visit at hand.

For example, a remember and return message sent to a business traveler would largely differ from that sent to a foreign couple.

What Tools Are Used During this Stage?

The traveler will utilize social media tools like Instagram and Facebook, your personalized hotel website and communication channels like WhatsApp and Email.

As a hotel you should focus on CRM, capitalizing on tools like NextGuest CRM, Cendyn, Revinate and LoungeUp, and the delivery of marketing emails via MailChimp, Sendinblue, Loungeup and other tools.

Thanks for reading this article! By nailing your analysis at each touchpoint and capitalizing on the advanced tools at your disposal, you’ll understand the customer journey better and ultimately secure more business.

levels.digital is a full-service design and technology agency that specializes in creating innovative solutions for hotels. These can transcend your company’s business model while adding significant value to the customer experience.

If you think we can help your business, please contact our founder Daniil Tarakanov at daniil@levels.digital​

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