Why the future of hotel booking is experiential (and how you can cash in)
Once upon a time, upscale and luxury hotels were designed exclusively to provide guests with a beautiful place to stay while visiting a destination or traveling for business. Booking the stay usually boiled down to four simple considerations: the quality of the product and the location of the room, the amenities available to guests, the level of service offered by the staff and, most importantly, the price in relation to its prices. competitors.
Fast forward to today, and you’d think the booking game doesn’t follow the same laws of economics anymore. How is it that if Hotel A offers the same level of products, services and amenities for a lower price than Hotel B, the reservation is still not guaranteed? The answer is because we are no longer in the business of selling rooms – we are in the business of selling experiences.
The point is that Hotel B could make the customer to feel something that Hotel A does not do. Today’s affluent traveler, whether leisure or business, already expects hotels at a certain price point to have a unique product, service or amenities offering. What sets a hotel apart is the experience it can offer in addition to this product. In fact, Skift Report “Trends in experiential travel in the United States 2018” found that 65% of avid travelers would rather return from a trip after experiencing something new, rather than feeling rested and recharged. Additionally, 69% prefer to spend more on better activities, as opposed to spending more on a nicer hotel room.
For us marketers working with hotels, here are three key ways to embrace the experiential element of hotel booking and, in a modern way, always put our heads in the beds.
1. Use content marketing to put experiences at the forefront of your brand.
When you think of brands that are closely related to unique experiences, companies like Red Bull, Disney, American Express, Airbnb, or BMW will likely come to mind. That’s because these brands have invested a lot in content marketing campaigns designed to showcase the experience their product offers, not just the specifications.
By associating their brands with exciting experiences, hotels can do the same and stand out among consumers looking for accommodation. Encourage user-generated content to organically promote the experiences that guests enjoy at your hotels. Invest in engaging video content that inspires the imagination as guests plan their stay. Write personalized, timely editorial content that social influencers share with thousands of impressionable online consumers.
However you view the experiential content that best embodies your brand, be sure to incorporate it into every step of the customer journey, from initial planning to booking to staying in person. You will reap the rewards not only today, but over and over again as that same guest becomes faithful to your experience.
2. Rethink your specials.
When virtually every hotel in the world offers the same packages (think 15% off, $ 50 food credit, or “stay 3, get 4” offers), your specials aren’t so special anymore. The bottom line is that this is an outdated marketing technique designed to sell rooms but not experiences.
For modern hoteliers and retailers, creating packages offers a great opportunity to get creative around experiential merchandising. If you run a beach hotel, don’t just sell beach yoga as a separate add-on; build a complete package around it that integrates the experience into the room rate (and continues the experience with the wellness offerings and associated nutritional food options). If you are marketing a hotel in a ski resort, create a family package that includes equipment rental, private lessons and an après-ski offer at the hotel. Or, if you have a fine-dining restaurant on the property, treat foodies to a culinary package featuring private menu tastings, exclusive wine experiences, and / or expert cooking classes.
Once these unique packages are created, use your CRM to target segmented consumers with offers that match their personal interests and travel goals. It shouldn’t take long before you generate significantly higher ancillary revenue and by extension sell more rooms.
3. Prioritize experiential selling in your reservation process.
When you sell packages and activities in your booking engine, there is a fine line between annoying customers with unwanted offers and enhancing your product with custom add-ons. On the one hand, you don’t want to force customers to go through an entire page of the reservation process dedicated to experiential offers that aren’t of interest to them. But you certainly don’t want to completely eliminate the experiential part.
In addition to selling the genuine specials discussed above, the solution I recommend is to integrate your dynamic packaging (i.e. add-on experiential offers) as a passive shopping cart functionality in the last page of your booking engine, much like Amazon’s “Recommended”. for you. ”This means that guests can easily add certain experiences to their stay by simply clicking“ Add to Cart ”and not be forced to decline other offers they are not interested in.
This way, you don’t jeopardize your conversion rate with direct promotions, but still deliver value to customers who make lifestyle buying decisions and ambitious offers.
If there’s one thing I hope you can take away from this article, it’s that experience is the new differentiator between hotels of the same size. Think of it as your own independent loyalty program. If you focus your marketing programs on the experience and tailor that experience to the individual needs and wants of each customer, you may well achieve the holy grail of modern marketing: creating loyal customers who consistently choose your brand over competition, even if it’s more expensive.