During my time attending the Digital Travel Conference in Las Vegas back in April, I overheard the same takeaway from multiple hoteliers: “If I can just convince a traveler to stay at my property once, we would have a customer for life.” Since getting customers in the door for that first visit is seemingly the most difficult (and definitely the most expensive) endeavor for marketers, we set out to look for some answers using our proprietary contextual data to better understand the hotel shopper.
To find out, we segmented consumers by hotel category in alignment with the Smith Travel Research chain scale—budget, midscale and luxury—and examined their research patterns to understand what makes them tick and better advise how hotel brands can utilize resources, such as big data, in order to personalize digital content based on interests and personal preferences. This data was run during May 2018.
Data suggests local research revolving around quick-serve restaurants appeal to budget hotel seekers, so a simple offer for free breakfast or snacks could tip the scales when they are weighing hotel options. We also see our budget hotel seekers researching nearby big box and office supplies stores, so messaging around onsite amenities such as business centers, mini-stores or complimentary conveniences that solve last minute needs for business or leisure can really add a thoughtful touch for the budget traveler. In addition to business and leisure, people moving or relocating to different areas also fall within the budget seekers segment. Knowing this ahead of time certainly helps the budget hotelier make their guests feel right at home for an extended stay.
The midscale hotel seeker class contains a definitive mix of business and leisure travelers, with heavy interest in conferences and events for the business crowd and with family vacation packages and vacation home rentals skewing high for leisure travelers.
Business travel shows no signs of slowing down and is projected to grow by more than 6 percent in 2018, according to Deloitte. With our business travel research indicating interest in rental cars, dry cleaning and local spots for drinks and cocktails, personalizing the experience for business travelers can include bundling rental cars or other transport to their conferences, promoting tailoring or cleaning services onsite or offering them an opportunity to mingle with other business travelers over a free drink at the hotel bar or restaurant.
Midscale leisure traveler themes can include trips to family-oriented destinations such Universal Studios, Disney World and Disneyland in addition to vacation themes based around activities like beach trips, desert or mountains. Family travelers are drawn to bundled packages around activities for each family member so that harmony and buy-in can be achieved (any parent will tell you that the kids have as much say as they do).
Activities such as dining and nightlife, golf and spa, gaming and outdoor adventure activities such as hiking, biking or boating are all of interest to the midscale hotel traveler and offer broad appeal across generations. In order to connect with this group of consumers, hoteliers are encouraged to partner with local groups and organizations that offer these activities.
The luxury hotel traveler seeks exotic locations to celebrate milestones and occasions, such as honeymoons. These upscale events offer significant insight to hoteliers on what type of atmosphere these types of travelers are looking for.
Luxury-seeking travelers have the highest interest of any group in healthy eating and living, with added emphasis on special diets or exercise. Hoteliers would benefit from a marketing focus on quality ingredient sourcing and menu customization within their restaurants and onsite fitness options. Luxury groups display interest in local art and culture and a general desire for a boutique experience that is representative of the region they are staying in. Including local art, beer and wine or music into the experience resonates well with these types of travelers, who are heavily influenced by the aesthetics and overall experience provided by the hotel as primary reasons for booking in the first place.
Hotels offer many things to many people, but big data can be a great lens into what moves each type of traveler from inspiration to action. After all, every lifelong hotel visitor starts with a first stay.