Connect with Travelers at Every Stage of their Journey

By Carolyn Childs Principal, | November 09, 2014

Not so long ago, Hotel meta-search site Trivago launched in Australia with a very heavy TV-based advertising campaign (see video at the bottom of the page). The campaign cleverly builds on the desire travelers have to get the best deal (or the Fear of Missing Out - FOMO - that others have got a better deal than we have).

But as I watched the ad, I once again felt the challenges that we face in trying to make a living from what we love. The information age has created unparalleled opportunities for us to connect with our customers, but its transparency makes it increasingly hard to build yield.

Tools such as dynamic pricing are helping but even better would be to create the kind of stickiness with the consumer that means we can more often connect earlier with them and command a premium - and even upsell them.

Over the years I've worked to develop and refine a 7-step 'path to purchase' model (see below) that recognizes the first purchase point is not your last and includes decisions both en route and in destination. It also recognizes that your trip may influence my travel decisions as well as your own future ones.

Yet typically, most brands tend only to communicate at a few stages - typically the most crowded ones.

To build that emotional relationship, it's important to understand that needs differ across the process. So it's also about how you talk to people at each stage and where you do so. Increasingly, you also want them talking to each other on your behalf.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.