Following the customer journey! The ways of a traveller!

customer journey in hospitality industry

The significance of a customer’s journey has, in a way, been diluted in today’s digital age. With the landscape diversifying and the consumers inquisitiveness at its peak, searching for the most beneficial option out of the now more numerous options, boils down to a matter of preference.

Take the hotel industry for example. On the one hand, we have the OTAs which burst into existence for the purpose of having a directory of hotels for customers to sift through and make a well thought out decision. On the other hand, we have hotels pulling in guests from sources like corporate bookings and tour agencies apart from the occasional walk-ins. With the scales tipping in favour of the OTAs more than direct bookings from the hotels, the analysis clearly points out a change in the customer journey.

Let me break it up for you and take a look at the stages a customer goes through before making a purchase decision. Following this journey will surely give you some insights into how you can work towards tipping the scales in your favour instead of losing out to the OTAs.

1. The Awareness stage – I need a Holiday:

Most often what triggers the average consumer is the social realm. Seeing a friend holidaying in Spain or an acquaintance from work visiting Paris. It could also be a weekend getaway. Think about it, the first thing that comes to mind when you’re browsing through your social feeds and you come across something like this. You picture yourself on a vacation, breaking away from routine life. Here are some stats that will cement this statement:

  1. 52% of people reported that the inspiration to travel comes from a friend/acquaintances FB photo
  2. Booking coming from offline travel agents
  3. 52% of people reported that the inspiration to travel comes from a friend/acquaintances FB photo

This is most often the stage where a consumer decides his/her travel destination.

2. The Research Stage – I’m definitely going on Holiday:

So once the bug has bitten, and a holiday is on the calendars, we see the research phase commencing. Most often than not, peer-recommendations play an important role in influencing the decision. Reviews, social media images and prices are all a part of this extensive checklist. A study found that exposure to user generated content has had increased conversion rates for hotels. This is the stage where OTAs tend to provide an edge to the customers and hotels lose out on chances of a direct booking. Having a directory of Hotels simultaneously with the reviews of several travellers and an option to book as you browse is definitely a win-win for a traveller.

  1. 77% of people read reviews before choosing a hotel
  2. 53% of them will not book a hotel without reviews
  3. 50% say that reviews have the greatest influence on their bookings
  4. 125% higher conversion rates have been recorded due to customer reviews

3. The book and stay stage – I’m on vacation:

This is the most anticipated stage for the both the traveller and the hotel. Having travelled through the whole screening process your guest is finally at the Hotel and this is where a lasting impression goes a long way. This stage is crucial as it could determine how active your guest will be at uploading photos and boasting about their vacation. It could also determine how vocal your guest will be about his holiday, be it is singing your praises or complaining about a disappointing experience. As a hotel owner, this is the stage where you’d probably want to engage them with a loyalty program or turn them into one of those peers, who will act as a brand ambassador as long as the experience is fresh in the head.

4. The Post-stay stage – I should probably tell people:

The Holiday is done and your guest is back home. The vacation is fresh in their head and the time is right to sneak in that review form. This usually counts as a follow up stage that has become crucial in today’s time. Who knows, those few words of appreciation and an experience to remember might be what tips the scale in your favour for the future.

These 4 stages are the most prominent stages in a travellers hunt for a hotel. Throw in the OTAs and hotels competing for the rights of attracting a guest and we have a field that’s plagued by mist. Rightly called as the Direct Booking Bermuda Triangle by Kristian Valk the co-founder of Hotelchamp.

If this piques your interest, and you would like to dive deeper into the intricacies of where your customers are getting lost in this journey, keep an eye out for ITB Asia 2018. Kristian Valk will be speaking about ‘Why your guests are lost in the customer Journey’. Stay tuned to our social media handles for a deeper understanding about this intriguing topic.

For more interesting content on everything hospitality, you can browse through our list of articles here.

customer journey in hospitality industry

Nikhil John

Nikhil is a marketing evangelist at Hotelogix with an interest in curating engaging content for the right audiences. He is an automotive enthusiast and a music buff with a dream of, one day, having these three interests make him his bread and butter.