Building a useful marketing strategy has become increasingly complicated with the advent of social media. Guest are now closer than ever to brands and their representatives, making impersonal and generalized marketing quite ineffective, and even off-putting.
In order to understand how to best approach potential clientele, hotel managers have taken to building data-based models of their hypothetical guests in an attempt to better understand who their guests are and how to best advertise to them.
Where to begin: Building Your Ideal Guest Persona
The need of a guest persona emerged as many, even well-known and long-established brands have in recent years shown a fundamental inability to connect to their customers on a level that would effectively allow them to sell and upsell their services.
Guest personas emerged as a tool that hotel management can use to better understand guests and to translate this knowledge into increasing direct bookings and drive up revenue.
The thought process behind creating one is quite simple, you analyze data to build a model of what an ideal guest of your hotel would look like, and then use it to create a guest experience that can be marketed to attract the largest number of such guests.
The guest persona model tracks the choices a guest makes when paying for lodging and services at your establishment which allows your management to effectively appeal directly to these ideal guests by crafting a personalized offer. But in order to build an effective guest persona for your establishment, you must use every means of gathering customer data at your disposal.
- Consult your staff
Having an honest discussion with your hotel’s staff members as to the nature of the requests and complaints made by the guests will give you a solid starting point for conducting your research into building a buyer persona. Your personnel can guide you in the right direction, as their experience with guests is invaluable to understanding their spending behaviour.
- Use Data Analytics from Your PMS
Your property management system stores much useful data, concerning guests booking and upselling preferences. Make sure not to overlook it.
- Send out a Survey
Reach out to former and current guests and establish the nature of their stay, what brought them to you in the first place, the highs and lows of their stay, as well as inquiring upon suggested improvements you could make.
- Host Interviews
This might seem a bit unorthodox, but having a direct conversation with guests who frequent your establishment often, as well as those who spend more, you might be able to establish the direction in which to take your hotel in the future. If guests are reluctant to find the time for an interview you might wish to consider some form of compensation, such as a discount towards their next booking or a voucher for your gift shop.
- Analyze Guests’ Online Behaviour
You can use tools such as Google Analytics to create estimates of what drives interest in your website, how guest found your website, which referral links result in the most bookings with given demographic, and you can also estimate the age group that will likely spend more.
The data you gather can be used to craft several customer personas which can be used to analyze the spending behaviour of both your existing and potential guests.
Types of Guest Personas
Previous research into guest personas estimates that there are six main types of guest personas which hoteliers should be aware of. They are grouped based on income, age and booking preferences.
At the lower end of spending are young families, the so-called value seekers , and people who frequently travel for business reasons, the habitual travellers. These guests will be much more rigid with their budget as they are inhibited by existing responsibilities. Their bookings are the result of scouting for a good deal, and with such meticulous planning involved they are less likely to budge on an upsell.
But where there’s a will there’s a way, offering new parents the option for a babysittings service might allow them the opportunity to spend some time and funds on your other services. As for corporate guests, while their spending is limited by what they’re allowed for the trip, you can always bypass the guests and go directly to their company making an offer that would benefit both sides and guarantee their loyalty to your establishment.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are luxury travellers for whom status is an important part of the experience itself. Your online presence and ratings will play a part in the booking with you, and once they do upsell them will be an important part of their guest experience. Make certain that such guests have access to your hotel’s self-service app, as their stay will likely be highly customisable and would require great attention to detail.
In the middle of this are two groups who work in polar opposites, the social travellers and individual travellers . One will be more confident in booking if they are with a group and are more likely to spend on on-premise services, while the other will favour travelling by themselves and will spend on off-premise activities such as tours, treasure hunts, and various sports.
Focus on Direct Bookings
Driving direct bookings is among every hotel manager’s top marketing priorities and more precisely increasing direct bookings at higher room rates. In order to do so, you must tap into the customer niche that best suits your hotel, which is where the guest persona comes in.
The personal will allow your team to build a marketing process that would appeal to the ideal buyer persona for your establishment, by using a more personalized approach to advertising. Your campaigns will no longer be aimed at the general public but would be more specific and with a more narrow approach. You don’t want just any guest, after all, you want the right guest.
All of this is done with a goal in mind, by appealing to your most valuable potential customers’ sense of identity, they are more likely to take the initiative and book through your own hotel’s booking engine instead of your OTA listing. This in itself is a victory which further paves the path to customer loyalty.
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About Clock Software
Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.