How to Make the Most of Competitive Research

competitive research

Whether you run a hotel, marketing company or any business for that matter, knowing your competitors has become an inherent part of marketing strategy. It is crucial to learning how to position your business and allows you to get – and stay – one step ahead. How well do you know your competitors and, more importantly, what can you learn from their ideas and ways of conducting business?

 

Competitive research is not just about analyzing data, but using the knowledge gained to make your business stronger and more prevalent than your competitors. This can be a daunting task if not approached properly and dismissing your competition can cost you drops in rankings and conversions, loss in revenue, a bad reputation, etc.

Benefits of Competitive Research

The potential benefits of your analysis would include:

  • Understanding the market: No matter the business field, understanding the market in which you conduct your business is vital to the survival of your business. You need to know who are your competitors as well as potential competitors so you know where you need to position yourself within the market.
  • Tracking competitor pricing: You know your expenses and the mark-ups needed to make a profit but keeping an eye on your competitor pricing is an important part to factor into establishing your own pricing as well. You always want to remain a viable player within your market.
  • Targeting and reaching customers: Your research could help you find new tools and practices to better serve your existing customers. It can also provide insightful information on potential customers and help you create clear marketing plans to reach out to those new customers.
  • Forecasting potential sales: Through your analysis you can discover new opportunities that could lead to potential future sales.
  • Identifying problems: You can get a clearer understanding of things like why other sites are ranking higher than your own or what content you should be producing or how to better leverage pricing.
  • Reducing business risks: Making sure you keep track of things your competitors have tried and failed at will help you learn what to do – or not to do – for your own business and could potentially spur new ideas and business ventures out of those failures.
  • Building relationships: Through alerts you could set up mentions of your company (as well as your competition) and these mentions can be used as a basis for building relationships.

 

Getting to Know Your Competition

How do you conduct your competitor assessment and how can you use the information to gain a competitive edge in your market? When looking at competitors, there are no undercover spy rings used to sabotage your business rivals. Instead the research is meant to gather data to help your business learn what is the best way to improve your site rankings, gain customers, build relationships, improve customer service, spot new opportunities etc.

 

Now-a-days there is an abundant amount of information we can simply collect through the internet. A good start is to create an outline of general information like name, location, website address, products/services offered including pricing, weaknesses, strengths etc. Such a manual  search would also include running website audits, conducting a competitive keyword search and keeping an open mind to filter in new ideas and strategies.

 

Also, your search should not only include your current competitors but there should also be a consideration for those up-and-coming who might become a future competitor. You need to think that, once you show you can be successful, who will want to come take that piece of the market away from you?

 

When all is said and done, it makes it hard to compete when you have an awesome customer service philosophy and enforce those principals in your customer service staff. Their enthusiasm will become contagious and spread to your customers. Just look at Apple. Not only is the staff knowledgable of Apple products but, you could be in a crowded Apple store and still feel like all the attention is on you – as if you were the only one being serviced in the store.

 

Competitive Research Tools

There are so many competitive research tools available so you will have to carefully weigh your needs to know whether or not they stack up to what you want to achieve, the amount of time you want to spend on the research and at what cost you’re willing to absorb. There are market research groups that can conduct audits that include the likes of audience research, brand analysis etc and run reports for you but this option can become very costly.

 

If you can make the time to do your own research, you can sign up for free services to gather the information you need for your analysis. You can set Google Alerts, monitor RSS feeds, monitor Twitter by subscribing to competitor feeds for any mentions of your competitor names including their executives. You can audit competitor websites by browsing through it as if you were a customer paying attention to graphics, ease of use, load time and special pricing for example. You can even access public records for real estate, legal files or even financial records through the SEC database for public companies and state filings for privately held companies.

 

Regular Competitor Assessment

You not only need to know all your competitors, you also need to regularly assess your performance and compare it with your competition. In the vast ocean of online marketing, this will help you remain aware of things like new product/service offerings, new team members, sales wins and losses, promotions as well as keep track of sudden drops or improvements in rankings, get new product ideas, learn from competitor mistakes and see how you stack up against them as well as what you need to do to react to any changes found.

 

Nothing in business remains stationary for too long as economic and/or social issues will always manifest themselves. Such broader changes inevitably cause changes in the market and you need to adapt your business model to these changes to help your business grow and evolve. This is when you can reap the benefits of competitive research and ensure the survival of your business.

3 Ways to Market Your Hotel Wedding Space on Pinterest

Are you looking for ways to increase RFP’s for your Hotel Wedding Space? Read on and learn how Pinterest can help your hotel.

Did you know that 81 percent of brides-to-be admit that they begin planning their wedding on Pinterest before the big question is even popped?  For brides and grooms-to-be, Pinterest is the number one source when looking for wedding inspiration.

The image-based platform is the perfect way to engage with brides, where you can position yourself not only as a prospective venue option but also as a resource for potential customers. Since brides-to-be and grooms-to-be begin pinning and creating wedding boards much earlier than you might expect, it is crucial that you are properly marketing yourself on Pinterest, so you can serve as wedding inspiration for brides and grooms to be from the very beginning.

3 Hotel Marketing Ideas for Wedding Space on Pinterest:

Pin inspiring images that link back to your site: There is no shortage of high quality images and creative content on Pinterest, especially when it comes to weddings. Find out what it is about your specific location that sets you apart and dedicate a board to it.

However, pinning high-quality photos and inspiring descriptions is just one piece of the pie, or in this case, only one piece of the wedding cake. Every image that you share on Pinterest should link back to your home page or wedding venue page. This simple step is sometimes overlooked. Just as it is easy to get carried away when pinning beautiful content, it is just as easy to forget adding links to each of your images.

Include your location in your pin descriptions: Optimizing your pins by including effective keywords into your description will help to get your images to show up in Pinterest’s search results. Take it one step further by adding your location into your pin descriptions. People may be searching as specific as your town or as broad as a region, so keep this in mind when incorporating your location into both your pin and board descriptions.

Reach out and engage with others: Search for local attractions in your area and begin interacting with them frequently. This will help build trusted relationships while also allowing others to notice you. Re pin, comment and like interesting content that is relevant to you and you will begin to see an increase of traffic to your page.

 

Promote Hotel Content Marketing by Choosing the Best Images

They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  In today’s hotel content marketing no truer words have ever been spoken.  Images help to sell your hotel.  People will remember 80% of what they see versus 20% of what they read. The perfect image will resonate with the potential hotel guest who makes purchasing decisions based on the emotional connection to your hotel visuals. So how do you pick the best image to promote your content and relay your message?

choosing images hotel content marketing

When choosing an image, it’s clear that it needs to support your subject but it’s just as important to make sure the image captures the right feeling. For example, in trying to promote a hotel’s beachside activities, we can find a slew of beach photos but choosing the one that evokes the emotion ‘I want to soak in some rays on that beach at that hotel’ is what you want.

 

Creating images with an authentic feel allows the viewer to be there without physically being present. The best image choice comes when you entice the senses and provoke emotions. You want them to imagine experiencing that cozy bed, that pristine beach, that happening locale or that scrumptious looking dish at the hotel’s restaurant.

 

There are many online options for finding images to use in your hotel content marketing, and it’s all contingent on whether you have the budget to pay for it, the amount of time you have to invest in your search, whether or not you need a high resolution image and image sizing considerations.

 

What’s also important to remember is that images use a lot of data which can considerably slow down a page, not to mention wreak havoc on your site ranking. You will want to resize and optimize your images to avoid frustrating your hotel site visitors with a slow loading page.

 

Images are meant to support your hotel content marketing efforts and, if you’re looking to simply augment your hotel website, blog posts, social media content etc. then there might not be a need to look beyond your own hotel staff. With today’s smartphone technology, any one of your hotel staff can become an amateur photographer producing some solid photos of your property, activities or even local events and places.

 

The whole point is to capture the traveler in any stage of their travel journey through authentic, genuine images in your content. The emotional response you will get from your image choice is just as valuable to a hotel as the more traditional sales driven campaigns since it provides a spark that can fuel the discussion about your hotel’s values and culture. What type of images do you choose for your hotel content marketing? Choose wisely.

Snapchat and Instagram Leading in Chat Usage over Facebook Messenger?

Generation Z as the Next Influencers

According to e Marketer, Facebook Messenger currently dominates the U.S chat app market with 125.4 million users. But the research company recently predicted that Snapchat and Instagram will become the preferred messenger service over Messenger among 18 to 24-year-olds. They also said WhatsApp is up 9.5 percent from 2016 and will have 20.5 million U.S. users by the end of this year.

 

In light of this forecast, eMarketer lowered Messenger growth projections by 9.4 million users through 2021. But don’t count out Facebook Messenger from the running. The adoption of Messenger by older internet users has been slowly increasing and, according to eMarketer, U.S. monthly users will grow 2.4% this year to 172.9 million people in the U.S. And then let’s not forget that Facebook owns Instagram as well as WhatsApp.

 

Mobile users on messaging apps.

 

 

There will be 2 billion people globally that are expected to use messaging apps by 2018 and will be growing to nearly 2.5 billion by 2021. The number of mobile internet users who have used news, weather, sports or map apps at least once per month will be steadily increasing through 2021.  An average of 20.7 apps per month will be used by Americans this year but as more users choose to combine services into a single or fewer apps, eMarketer expects this number to decline. For example, as large percentages of U.S. users seek out their news through Facebook, news apps usage would see a decline.

 

Lodging Interactive Smartphone Penetration

 

The new predictions also include a look at ad spend which show in-app mobile ad spending will account for 80.6 percent of U.S. mobile spending by 2018. Mobile web spending  is growing but its total mobile share is decreasing and ads that only run on mobile apps will rise 29 percent this year to $7.57 billion.

 

Messaging apps, like social media channels, change as people’s needs change and every generation has different needs and expectations. Baby boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials might currently have the most disposable income but, as Generation Z currently makes up 25% of the U.S. population and accounts for $44 billion of the U.S. economy, they will be the next group of influencers on purchases and – hotel bookings.

 

As Generation Z matures, they will be the ones using messaging apps to connect with hotels, watch content and browse offers. So when considering your advertising or marketing spend, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with the expectations of this future hotel guest. Then you will know what to consider in your content marketing strategy and what messaging app is best to invest your budgeting dollars.

What is the ROI of Human Powered Website Live Chat?

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today offered some insightful looks into the return on investment of live chat for hotels.

 

“I am often asked by hoteliers what is the return on investment, or ROI, when implementing a live chat service on their website,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder and President. “Like any new product or service that is leading the way to something new and better for an industry, there is always a hesitation at first, as business operators attempt to justify the return on investment of this shiny, new thing.”

 

It has often been said that Customer Service is the new marketing for businesses. And for those businesses that can return valuable time to their consumers, studies have shown loyalty and engagement increase between the consumer and the brand for those businesses. This is supported by the fact that, as consumers, we lead increasingly busy and hectic lifestyles. “So time has become the new currency for the way we live,” added Mr. Vallauri.

 

Hotel operators should be extremely excited with the widely accepted technology and service opportunity known as website live chat. The excitement should stem from the fact that millions of people around the world are very comfortable with the technology and are already utilizing live chat services in other industries such as banking and insurance.  It is very rare to find a technology that has been widely used by millions of consumers around the world and see that same technology having such a profound impact on the return and profitability of a hotel website.

 

Live Chat Saves Consumers Time and Builds Trust.

 

Hotel websites have predominately always been a self-service model for consumers. Meaning when a consumer visits a hotel website, they are left on their own to navigate through what may be a complex structure of interlinked web pages in order to find what they are ultimately searching.

 

For many years website analytics professionals have always looked at the time spent on the website. This KPI or metric measurement has been utilized for the last 15 years as an indication of success when someone remains on your website for an extended period of time. After all, the longer they stay on the website, the assumption is made that they are browsing through all the website content pages finding and enjoying the content.

 

When in fact many consumers are spending more time than they need to spend on a hotel website because they simply cannot find what they need, quickly and efficiently. This can be evidenced by a couple attempting to research for an upcoming wedding they are planning. During the planning stages they will visit a hotel website to check out the wedding facilities and photo gallery as well as dig through the website to seek out any wedding packages or, better yet, catering menus and pricing. “Many times these activities are not as seamless as they should be, and they take time. And time brings me back to my initial comments of saving time for consumers,” said Mr. Vallauri.

 

Live Chat Provides Live Sales Assistance. 

 

According to recent data provided by Forrester, 53% of online buyers are likely to abandon a website if they can’t find answers to their questions quickly. And 44% of consumers stated that having questions answered by a live person is one of the most important features a website can offer.

 

Live Chat Increases Event RFPs. 

 

Now consider a hotel website that has a live chat service enabled. The couple arrives at the hotel website and immediately is greeted with a welcome and an opportunity from a real person providing assistance. A conversation ensues. The couple is guided to the exact pages they are looking for, and is even provided with catering menus, wedding packages and pricing by document sharing in real time. Even an entire wedding sales and marketing media kit or PDF document can be shared with the consumer by the live chat agent in real time. This provides instant gratification and savings of time. The conversation continues. The live chat agent offers the couple an opportunity to have someone from the hotel’s catering department contact them immediately or the next day to follow up and answer any questions or check wedding venue availability.

 

It’s all about instant gratification and saving time for the consumer. Isn’t this what we all want from companies we do business with?

 

Increase Direct Booking Opportunities. 

 

Now consider the consumer who is planning to make a direct booking on your website but is confused about the particular view or location of a room. They want to know the difference between an oceanfront room and a partial view oceanfront room.  As they pass through the booking engine, the hotel’s live chat service agent is always available to answer and clarify information for the consumer. Again doing so in real time and with the potential of moving the consumer towards placing the booking rather than leaving the website in total frustration is another opportunity to increase ROI.

 

And when you think about the real-time marketing opportunities that a live chat service can provide to your hotel website visitors, it really gets exciting.  Live chat agents are always in a position to promote specials, discounted rates or an upgrade, as they engage with the consumer in real time. This can be simply handled by providing the consumer with a specialized booking link or SRP code within the live chat engagement session with the consumer.

 

Customer Service is the NEW Marketing.

 

Clearly the way businesses and hotels can differentiate themselves from their competitive sets, is to implement a live chat service on their website. We believe live chat service for hotels will become as ubiquitous as online booking engines have become. When you have a technology that is widely adopted around the world by millions of people, saves time and provides human engagement between consumers and brands, you win the hearts and wallets of consumers, helping to increase your ROI.

 

Lodging Interactive, through its CoMMingle Live Chat Service, offers 7-day a week live chat services coverage. U.S.A. based live chat agents are all employed by Lodging Interactive and are fully trained to understand the unique attributes of the hotel customers they serve. For more information please visit: www.LiveChatForHotels.com or call us at 877-291-4411 extension 701.

 

 

About Lodging Interactive

Headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, Lodging Interactive is a full-service digital marketing and social media engagement and reputation management agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. Through its web design and search optimization division as well as its CoMMingle Social Media Division, Lodging Interactive provides effective Internet marketing services to hundreds of branded and independent properties as well as management companies, restaurants and spas. CoMMingle has established itself as the largest provider of reputation management services for the hospitality industry, handling over 200,000 guest review responses.  The company also offers fully managed Live Chat agents for hotel websites through its LiveChatForHotels.com division.

Lodging Interactive is an HSMAI Adrian Award winner, and has won awards from the International Academy of Visual Arts, Interactive Media Awards, Horizon Interactive Awards, Web Marketing Association, Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, and Travel Weekly’s Magellan Awards recognizing Lodging Interactive as an industry leader.

Lodging Interactive is a proud supporter of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and the company’s president, DJ Vallauri, currently serves on the Board of Directors of HSMAI’s New York Chapter and is a Forbes Agency Council contributor. For more information, please contact sales@lodginginteractive.com, 877-291-4411 or visit the company’s website.

Hotel & Travel Inspirations via Instagram

Finding the next adventure through visual imagery on social media

 

The best travel stories are relayed through visuals. But where once it was common to look for travel inspirations through magazine photos and enticing advertisements, we now use social media to search out those new experiences and adventures.

 

In today’s social media driven world, interest in a location or hotel is fueled by visual assets shared through social networks. What started out as sharing experiences with peers created communities of people sharing the same interests.  Powerful visuals are incredibly engaging. They can help build an emotional bond between your hotel and your guest that are shared with people within your guest’s networks. And there is great potential for guests to make purchasing decisions based on the emotional connection they make with your hotel.

The Power of Instagram

One of the most powerful tools to tell your hotel story is through Instagram.  With now more than 800 million active users, 8 million Instagram Business profiles and 80% of users following at least one business on this platform, Instagram is satisfying viewer hunger for imagery and, with this, comes the growing influence on travel decisions.

 

Posts with a location get 79% more engagement and User-Generated Content has a 4.5% higher conversion rate. This gives credence as to why Instagram is such an effective marketing tool.

 

Lodging Interactive offers hotel twitter and instagram marketing.

 

 

Everyone is buried in day-to-day activities and look to the magnificent landscapes and far-away places for a release from the mundane. Photographers take extraordinary photos of beautiful places that leave us breathless. Travelers find a special little nook and hotel nearby that offers a unique experience.

 

Lodging Interactive offers resorts exceptional hotel internet marketing.

 

 

All of these images make us want to be there too. We want to experience and see what the photographer or traveler saw. It’s more genuine than just looking at a magazine, ad, brochure or pamphlet. The visual story shared will be authentic and being authentic is what today’s traveller expects. Going from seeing the visual on Instagram to making a hotel booking is a far cry from what it was a decade ago.

Instagram Influencers

But visuals on Instagram are not only a place to inspire travelers to be or do what others have done but also gives people the desire to create and share their own original adventures. This gives rise to influencers who can provide an incredible ROI.

 

Through these Instagram visual assets, hotel digital marketers have a great opportunity to tell a unique – impactful story, build guest loyalty, raise brand awareness and increase engagements. So be different than other hotels on Instagram. Leverage your place in this medium – use Instagram Stories or Live videos and tag places in your posts so that it allows people to easily discover your content when searching those places. Dare to be different!

How Hotels Can Make the Most of the Guest Mobile Experience

mobile experience

Two-thirds of the world’s population has a mobile phone and, with this global rise of mobile usage, people have higher expectations from their mobile exchanges with hotels. When guests or prospective guests have a great mobile experience with a hotel, it sets a high service level they expect to get every time.  It’s when this level is not met that it can start to impact negatively on your hotel. As a result, it has become critical that hoteliers learn to leverage their mobile marketing to capture those mobile bookings.

Google recently conducted a study into mobile brand experiences. What we would expect came out in this study: Speed & relevance are a must for a positive mobile experience. But what the study also brought to light is that even a neutral mobile experience could morph into an experience with negative outcomes. So in the world of mobile marketing, how could your hotel make every mobile moment count toward booking possibilities?

Four ways Increase Hotel Guests Mobile Experience

 

Ensure quick load time:

Google’s findings showed that 53% of the time users will abandon a site if they experience a slow, poorly designed mobile site or app. The last thing your hotel wants is for a guest or prospective guest to abandon your site because pages didn’t load quickly enough. Information sought should not take more than 3 seconds to load and searches should be easy to navigate on your site.

Create relevant content:

If the user’s mobile experience was a positive one, nine out of ten would again make purchases from that brand, according to Google’s study. And 60% are less likely to make recommendations or purchases if their interaction was not helpful. Providing high quality content in the moment your guest or prospective guest is searching for helpful information and guidance will give them the power to make their booking decisions. So hotel marketers need to look at how their mobile audience views their website and be on the pulse of your guests needs during their travel journey.

Avoid interruptions:

Perception is everything. Who hasn’t experienced annoying pop-ups or ads while conducting a search that block content view.  Google found that 46% percent of their study participants would not make a purchase if their mobile search was interrupted. Hotel mobile marketers need to keep this in consideration or run the risk of a negative perception of your hotel.

 Keep omni-channel consistency:

Most hotels today use more than one platform to connect with guests. Whether it’s your hotel website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, your guests want a seamless experience so it’s important that their mobile experience is consistent across all channels that they are engaging with your hotel.

Giving your guests control over every step of their travel journey is the best way your hotel can strengthen your relationship with them. Providing them with the right tools and information for a smooth interaction makes for the best mobile experience with your hotel that could create booking opportunities.

Is Your Hotel ‘Customer Service Ready’ for the Holiday Season?

Lodging Interactive Holiday Season

No matter the time of year, good customer service is vital to a hotel’s survival. And as people start preparing for holiday vacations, there is a ramped up effort to be on one’s best behavior and providing great service is more critical than usual.

During the holiday season, everyone is anxious to make just the right arrangements and in time for celebrations, vacations – emotions get charged, hotels face short staffing or low supply issues, guest inquiries and complaints increase in volume, employees get distracted by their own events or travel plans.  All these distractions present challenges to providing quality customer service.

5 Holiday Season Hotel Tips

Stay on the Nice List

With the pending holiday season approaching, how can your hotel make a difference?  The best advantage you have is to make sure your hotel maintains that high level of customer service – concentrate efforts to keep guests happy and satisfied.

Focus on guests

Whether Millennial, GenXer or Baby Boomer, each generation brings their own spending power but when it comes to customer service, each generation shares a common ground – they each have a desire to feel special, unique – the added personal touch that tips them over the edge in favor of a stay at your hotel.

Though there is no doubt that generational differences present challenges, the gap closes significantly when you offer ‘personal’ customer service.

Support your staff

Hotel staff is the hotel’s most important ambassador. They are on the front line and the face of your hotel. During the holiday season they work longer hours and deal with irate customers. It’s only normal to see them more stressed and overworked.  So make sure you show your gratitude. Your staff’s appreciation will increase their job satisfaction and this will be reflected onto your guests.

Empower your guests

The desire for immediate answers and engagement has led to the live chat revolution. Hotel guests or potential guests don’t want to struggle around your website and waste time trying to find information.  Adding a great FAQ knowledge base makes for an efficient, fast and enjoyable customer experience. The integration of a live chat service on your website will make your guest’s life easier, save them valuable time and be at their disposal when they choose. It will also help alleviate staff stress and workload.

Monitor social media channels

You can expect more inquiries on social media during the holiday season so maintaining your presence by monitoring and responding is a must. Guests have a certain expectation and social customer care will help address guest needs quickly. Remember to keep a friendly voice that adds a personal feel to the conversation. This will go a long way to helping you build trust and trust is key to creating loyal guests.

The desire to take care of people we love is at the heart of any holiday season. It is also at the core of what makes a hotel’s heart beat – taking care of guests’ needs and concerns. Offering a consistent customer service experience is what builds guest confidence and trust. Provide the best possible level of service and you won’t get caught on the naughty list.

Lodging Interactive Launches End of Summer Website Sale

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced its End of Summer website sale program. Through the program Lodging Interactive will credit full service customers for the cost of developing their new website, essentially providing customers with a free website.

 

“Hoteliers realize that ongoing budgeting and investment is required in order to keep their websites competitive and with End of Summer website sale program they can be assured they have a budget for future website enhancements and development,” said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder and President.  “Every new full-service customer will receive a credit for every dollar spent on their new website which can be used to further enhance and update their website in the future.”

 

To be eligible for the website credit, new hotel customers must enter into a full-service agreement with Lodging Interactive before November 1, 2017.  For example, if a hotel spends $15,000 on a new website, Lodging Interactive will provide a $15,000 credit to be used for future website enhancements or a website redesign.

 

For more information on Lodging Interactive’s End of Summer website sale program please visit LodgingInteractive.com or call 877-291-4411 Ext 701.

 

Contact
DJ Vallauri
President & Founder
Phone: 877-291-4411
Fax: 877-833-7375

What Motivates Travelers to Create and Share Content?

Summer is synonymous with vacation. What better way to create memories of that vacation than to document it with photos, videos and commentaries that are shared with friends and family? This begs the question: What gives the vacationer the motivation to go one step further and share their content online via social networks?

sharing content

Images and chatter are about sharing moments in time: Experiencing life and all it has to offer. To capitalize on these moments, hotels need to first understand the different motivators within each stage of the traveler’s journey so that they capture – and hold – the traveler’s attention in all steps of their decision-making process.

Social relationships can be complex but at the heart is the desire to gain information from peers who have previously experienced the resort, hotel, vacation spot, or activity.  People tend to associate more closely with others who they perceive to be similar to them. They’re perceived as more credible, influential and reliable. A sort of word-of-mouth solicitation that hotel’s can use to their advantage.

5 Stages of the Guest Journey 

There are five stages in the guest journey. Within all stages people will look to others who have already joined in on a unique activity or visited that location on an off-beaten path, that hotel with great service, that local restaurant with delicious food.

  1. Inspiration: This first stage is the desire for the traveler to fulfill wants and needs for fun, relaxation and/or adventure so your hotel should be searchable.
  2. Planning: This is the stage when the traveler begins searching out possible destinations, hotels, transportation etc. in consideration for a booking. Your hotel needs to tap into this stage by offering the most relevant information to capture the traveler’s attention.
  3. Booking: It’s in this third stage that the traveler finalizes plans based on the search for information including shared content from other travelers who have “been there, done that”.
  4. Experience: In this stage the traveler takes in the best of destination, hotel and local area offerings.
  5. Sharing: At this point the traveler is now the “expert” and shares their experiences and spreads the word about the location, hotel stay etc. with friends, family and through online social channels.

Travelers Motivation for Sharing Content Online Via Social

In the sharing stage of the guest journey, travel photos not only provide personal messages about experiences, but also show brand affinity and can influence others on the same social networks. So the next traveler looking for that unique spot or get-away will look to the shared content that can influence their booking decision.

Olapic , together with Kantar Added Value, analyzed more than 2, 000 social travel images in an effort to determine what motivates people to share travel content online. The data points to what makes the traveler want to share experiences. 38% showed they want to share what they believe to be a unique experience. 23% wanted to share their moments of how to unwind and relax. 21% are excellent quality images that are very engaging. 18% just like to share their entertaining, fun experiences.

The most shared images were famous landmarks, cities or big events (54%); urban, off the beaten path images (44%); parks, mountains or forests (40%); and ocean, pool or blue skies (34%).  These were followed by images of Mother Nature, posing with friends and dining-shopping-eating like a local.

Through images there is a social sharing of the emotion experienced. Hotels want to get travelers to convert in any one of the guest journey stages. So these shared moments in any one of the traveler’s journey becomes a hotel’s opportunity to drive engagement, gain loyalty and earn a stronger ROI. What is your strategy to engage guests from inspiration to post stay?