From the very beginning of the searching process to the post-stay comedown, guests are increasingly expecting an experience that feels tailored, thoughtful and built with them in mind. Let’s take a look at the ways hotels can ensure they’re equipped to provide it.
Keep it personal
The hospitality industry is built around the human touch. Though both we and our guests are living ever more of our lives online, hotel websites still exist in that liminal space between the digital and the personal.
A hotel room is not bought and sold in quite the same way as a phone, book or TV; it’s bought as part of an experience that’s going to be slightly different for every individual.
The more tailored and personal the booking journey, the more confident a guest will be that they’re making the right choice.
But personalisation is hard. The amount of work that has to go into effective one-to-one personalisation, and the data scale involved, is out of reach for most hotels.
However, successful one-to-many segmentation is a much more achievable step that can have a significant impact on your online guest experience.
So what does this look like on your website?
Take a look at the data
The first thing to remember is that segmentation is all about relevance. In order to push relevant content to the right people, you first need to know who those people are and what they’re interested in.
Google Analytics’ built-in demographic analytics are a great place to start, and you may well be running a CRM programme that tracks the activity of your contacts on your website.
Do certain pages resonate more with visitors from a certain geography? Is there a certain order in which a specific age group navigates your site structure? Investing time in making observations like these is a good place to start your website segmentation process.
A word of warning though – it’s easy to read patterns into data when you’re trying very hard to find them. It’s good practice to introduce safeguards like only drawing conclusions from data collected over at least one booking cycle (but preferably much longer).
Decide on your content
Now you’ve got your theories about who your audience segments are, it’s time to start tailoring your content. This doesn’t have to be too complicated; overthinking your messaging too much could result in missing the mark entirely.
While you might manage to charm the one person on your website interested in German-language axe-throwing lessons, you’ll just bemuse the other thousand with no interest at all!
This is also a good time to align with your revenue management team and collaborate on pushing different rate types to the specific audiences most likely to convert.
If you know you generally get local business guests during the week and more foreign leisure visitors over the weekend, align your higher-rate rooms with an enticing, experience-driven message to those searching for weekend dates. For those weekday corporate travellers, surface benefits like free wifi or complementary ironing service.
It’s also useful to look not only at volumes of bookings from different segments, but the make-up of those bookings themselves.
Some analysis for a hotel in the Asia-Pacific region revealed that although the highest volume of bookings came from local Taiwanese tourists, the highest ABV (average booking value) and conversion rate were among American visitors – who booked at a much lower volume.
It’s important not to disregard segments just because they’re not your biggest; you could be missing a chance to engage high-value customers.
Keep it balanced
So how do you deliver your segmented content? Well, there are many roads to go down here.
Overlays, pop-ups, banners, nudge messages – there are all sorts of ‘layers’ you can add to your site in order to engage your audience. The important thing to remember is that less is more.
A page full of a bunch of different messages (that obscure what the visitor actually wants to see!) dilutes your visitor’s attention and distracts them from the booking process – even if they’re all hyper-tailored to their interests.
In general, a gentle ‘nudge’ towards relevant content is the closest thing to the helping hand a guest might receive in a hotel lobby. Segmentation and personalisation should be an extension of, not a replacement for, an attentive, tailored experience for every hotel guest.