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?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- Experience: In this stage the traveler takes in the best of destination, hotel and local area offerings.
- 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?