Our recent webinar hosted by Triptease Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Alasdair Snow, and Principal Product Marketing Manager, Thomas Griffiths, walked hoteliers through the complex digital journey faced by guests on their path to booking.
Al and Thomas drew on a wealth of industry and product knowledge to devise a three-point strategy that will help hoteliers to ensure that guests are not derailed from finding - and booking - the right hotel for them. Watch the webinar now, or click the link below the video to download your own copy of the strategy.
No time to watch? Read on for a breakdown of the Customer Activity Cycle discussed by Alasdair and Thomas in the webinar. We hope this blog helps to open up a discussion around the importance of understanding your customers’ journey towards booking, and some of the tactics you can employ to ensure that they ultimately choose to book directly with your hotel.
There are thousands of blockers on the path to booking direct
One of the key reasons that Triptease exists is to address the pain and frustration guests face when booking online. There are so many middlemen who are commoditizing hotels - our aim is to help hoteliers build relationships with their guests and offer them the best experience direct.
Understanding the Customer Activity Cycle
At Triptease we use the Customer Activity Cycle to unpack some of the thinking and behaviors that guests go through when they are researching and booking a stay. There are specific needs that drive their actions at each stage of the cycle. We try to understand what those needs are so we can help hotels to answer them.
During the cycle, your potential guest will move from out of market (where they are not actively looking to book a hotel, but are still subconsciously learning and retaining information about brands - particularly the misleading suggestion that OTAs are always cheaper) to having a reason for travel.
Rational and emotional thinking
At this point your customer doesn’t know exactly what they need from a hotel. More than a third of shoppers start with two destinations in mind, so they are about to go on a very complex decision making process. In fact, they’ll visit 140 travel websites in the 45 days leading up to their purchase. That’s a lot of opportunities for them to find and book with your hotel - or with someone else. One of the key things that hoteliers need to do at this point is to appeal to their guests’ rational decision-making mechanism - they’re looking to answer the primary need of having somewhere to sleep.
During the rational decision-making phase guests will be looking at things like location, itinerary, budget and experience, and making trade-offs to find the hotel that’s closest to perfect for them. This is the point at which customers tend to use OTAs and metasearch engines. They know they will be presented with hundreds of options, and lots of filters to find the right set of hotels to pick a shortlist from. OTAs are great at this stuff - that’s why two in every three online bookings are made through them.
But there is hope. While your guests are going through this process they are refining hundreds of hotels down to a final shortlist of two to five options. This is the phase that we think of as the first date - and you’re probably going to be up against some familiar competition including local hotels and Airbnbs. At this point guests already know that you tick their rational decision-making boxes - now they’re moving towards system one thinking, or falling in love.
When your guest is choosing the option to fall in love with, a price disparity is exactly the kind of barrier that could kick them back into rational decision-making mode. Other detractors that might take you out of the running include an additional cost for breakfast, wifi or airport transfers, or not having the right type of room available. You need to make sure your website alleviates these concerns instantly. You have to make guests start to fall in love with your hotel.
And how do you do that? Download your three point strategy plan to find out.
If you have questions or comments we’d love to hear them. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org - and if you’d like to join us for our next product webinar then sign up for our email newsletter to be the first to know!