Last month Avvio hosted ‘The Connected Guest’ webinar alongside Classic British Hotels and SiteMinder. The webinar provided attendees with invaluable knowledge and actionable tips on how to improve the guest experience whilst increasing their hotel website’s direct booking traffic.
Here are some key take-aways from the session:
Intent has redefined the marketing funnel
Guests go through various stages of consideration during their initial research stage, and that doesn’t even take into account the extensive comparison process involved in the pre-purchase journey. Instead of simply pushing the ‘book now’ or ‘book direct’ message, hoteliers need to track, discover and monitor a visitors intent and adjust their messaging accordingly. The customer journey from initial awareness to consideration to purchase is no longer linear, nor are all journeys the same. In fact, most journeys don’t resemble a traditional marketing funnel at all.
The average holiday purchase takes 45 days of research, with visits to 38 diﬀerent sites.
*Research carried out by Expedia Media Solutions & Milward Brown Digital
Pre-stay visitors come back to your website once they’ve made a booking. This is your hotel’s opportunity to upsell and cross-sell. Instead of trying to sell them a room, talk about their stay and offer personalised experiences based on their browsing behaviour. In today’s consumer path to purchase journey, a booking doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the search. Similarly, if a returning guest is making a repeat booking, don’t push generic online reviews as their direct experience with your hotel will trump an anonymous review.
Booking intent of returning visitors is more than 2x that of ﬁrst timers
*Avvio customer data 2018
Ultimately it’s about understanding where your guests are coming from and understanding their intent signals. If they are at the start of their journey they will have low intent and will simply be in an exploratory phase. If they are repeat visitors, nearing the end of their purchase decision they will have a higher propensity to book.
Personalised content is an expectation
A recent post on ThinkWithGoogle said that 63% of people expect brands to use their purchase history to provide them with personalised experiences. 63%! We live in a world where AI is everywhere. It’s changed life as we know it. AI curated user experiences is machine learning at its finest and is what separates a good online experience from a great one. The fact that such a high percentage of people are willing to part with their valuable data (something people are increasingly protective of these days) in exchange for personalisation, shows how much they value tailored content.
57% of consumers are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalised offers or discounts.
*Based on a Salesforce Research study, “Customers Are Willing to Swap More Data for Personalized Marketing”
The Hotel Distribution landscape is changing
Now more than ever, hotels need to embrace a variety of distribution channels to maximise revenue. If you have the same distribution strategy you did 2 or 3 years ago, it’s going to be outdated. To effectively compete online hotels need to consider having a presence on:
- Direct Bookings
The gold standard is to have a presence on at least 5 channels. It’s not about joining 5 random channels: not every channel is right for every location. It’s imperative that you do your research and speak with someone who knows which channels are right for your property.
Ultimately you need to evaluate your channel mix and decide whether it is working for your property. You need to find out which platform is driving volume and equally which is not. In addition, you need to understand who has access to your rates through your OTA partnerships so that you can protect your rate integrity.