Understanding the Emotional and Rational Drivers in Hotel Bookings
By Rick Garlick Vice President, Strategy Consultant, Magid | July 2019
As hotels aim to improve their brand positioning in the marketplace, they have worked hard to make emotional connections with guests – with the understanding that is the only real differentiator. With so many brands available, most of which have similar counterparts, the one distinguishing characteristic is how well brands create loyalty among their customers.
While loyalty programs are still a popular vehicle intended to create bonds with customers, they are often seen as too transactional where guests 'do this' to 'get that.' True loyalty is based on a relationship, not simply the result of paying people for their business through tangible rewards. Additionally, creating true loyalty goes beyond a marketing gimmick as it must be infused in every interaction and experience that a guest has, from the moment they begin to search for a room.
To examine the best ways to build brand loyalty in the hotel industry, we must first understand the emotional and rational drivers of hotel bookings.
Emotional Decision Making vs. Rational Decision Making
Decades of research by psychologists studying the human decision-making process has meticulously examined the relationship between emotional and rational decision making. In his groundbreaking book, Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explains there are two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive and emotional. System 2 is slower, more deliberative and rational. In order to understand our customers, we need to know how both systems influence judgments and decisions.
As scientists study how the brain works, there is a large amount of research that suggests that emotional decision making has a greater impact on business than might have previously been acknowledged. Decision making is often best characterized by a quick intuitive judgment that is subsequently supported by slower, more reflective rational thinking.