While a great location is a huge marketing plus, it’s not the only thing that can attract guests and there are other ways to make your property stand out.
Hoteliers need to learn how to become better at influencing the booking behaviour of their customers, to understand what their unique values are to be able to differentiate themselves.
To do this, you’ll need an understanding of the customer’s booking journey, to get insights on how your guests reach a decision in the mixture of emotional and rational reasoning.
It’s easy to assume that most customers are making their booking decision based solely on price and location. But in fact, each prospective guest goes through a decision making process with multiple stages and different influences.
Each stage provides an opportunity for operators to influence the buyer’s final decision, when at that one moment in time that they are ready to buy known as the “moment of truth”– that they have your hotel or brand front of mind.
In today's new digital world simply attracting a high volume of traffic to your website is not enough. The digital transformation of the customer journey, especially in the travel sector has enabled and empowered buyers to change how they find and digest information.
Hotel operators cannot think in terms of what was traditional marketing, by creating a lot of noise at that moment when you need business, with the hope that if you are ‘loud’ enough that somebody will be persuaded to make a reservation.
The internet 24/7 and 365 days a year provides so much more leverage now to consumers, that the whole dynamics of making a purchase online, means that the power is now in the hands of the buyer rather than the seller.
Therefore, you’ll need to improve your storytelling skills, enhance the guest experience and engagement, and utilise guest insights to develop your marketing message and proposition.
Content marketing and storytelling
To attract and entice an audience it is important to be able to create content that tells the story of your hotel, what makes it different and why a prospective customer should select your property.
One of the major disadvantages of focusing on price for example as a marketing tool is that it is very easy for your competitors to match or worse case go below your rate levels. Plus, when market conditions change, it is extremely difficult to raise prices back up to where they were before.
Guests can get accustomed to a particular price point and will resist your efforts to increase rates, especially if that was the main reason they selected your hotel in the first place. Often customers will broaden their search based on price to find a competitor with a lower rate.
By using content marketing to tell your hotel story, it is very difficult to copy the emotions of a well told story that resonates with guests. Each property has a unique proposition to tell, one that can evolve and grow over time and builds on the emotions of your guests rather than focusing only on price.
An emotionally engaged and satisfied guest is far more likely to accept when the time comes that you need to increase your rates, as the price was not the main factor in their decision making process.
Educating and informing the visitors through your website by publishing interesting content is an effective tactic to build an identity that guests can relate to.
For those prospective customers that visit your website and already know the basics, they want to hear more about the "Why they should buy your experience - what makes you stand out and how does it meet their needs"? All of these can be effectively communicated through content marketing.
How to tell your hotel’s story
Trying to appeal to everyone will dilute your brand voice. So, develop your story based on what would appeal to customers with common profiles and motivations, rather than a “one size fits all” approach to storytelling.
It does not make sense that the person booking a wedding event has the same motivations a corporate traveller. They both book because your hotel has a great reputation, known for wonderful guest experiences – but one books because you have a great ballroom and the other because you are 5 minutes from a major convention centre.
As operators we need to be able to identify the profile of the person who is making the buying decision and identify what their motivations are as they research and evaluate prospective hotels.
By building a full, personalised picture of your prospective customer and identifying the different steps in their buying journey, you’ll be far more effective with your sales and marketing activities.
Customers choosing from a long list of hotels don’t only buy based on location. Storytelling shares what makes your property unique, as well as giving your guests clear values to resonate with.
Below are some other ideas on how to get your property to stand out from the crowd:
Get social with your hotel guests before, during and after their stay
Many businesses has started their interactions on social media to initially monitor what others were doing and manage their own online presence and brand mentions.
Within the hospitality industry the power of consumer generated media, reviews and the desire of customers to actively seek recommendations online does have an impact on the booking process.
So through trial and error many operators are discovering the power of nurturing customers via these social media channels.
Social media platforms are a good tool to research what your customers say, to engage with them directly and track your competitors.
Asking guests to tag your hotel while they’re staying with you, or thinking of booking a stay with you is an effective way to increase the reach of your brand through consumer generated media and get genuine social proof and hotel reviews.
Use data to focus on guest satisfaction
One of the main reasons that you will lose business is dissatisfaction with the customer experience. So be prepared to do everything in your power to provide excellent service, respond quickly and calmly to difficult situations.
But, no business is immune to unhappy customers, with even the most successful of businesses losing a proportion of customers every year for various reasons.
Measuring customer satisfaction will help operators reduce the level of customer attrition and improve loyalty. Great, quality customer data is key to creating loyal hotel guests, so collect it, segment and analyse it well.
A great direct online booking experience
With prospective customers getting their first information about hotels online, property owners can now no longer ignore the need for an integrated online booking engine to be able to control the overall booking experience for their property.
Happybooking have always focused on creating a user-friendly property management system based in the cloud that can help property owners improve their revenue performance with a direct booking engine, generating increased profit margins by lowering commission costs and reducing admin time.
So, take a quick tour to see how it works - click here.
Our guest blogger is John Kennedy.
John is a hospitality consultant, dedicated to helping increase profits through marketing, revenue management and efficient operations and can be found at https://kennedy.marketing/