• Pauline Kwasniak

How your customer buys online - hospitality





The customer buying process for the hospitality industry has been shaken slightly by the effects of COVID -19.


Much smaller hotels, activity providers or restaurants relied on the good old word of mouth, manual bookings or local promotions.


However, COVID has streamlined the need for digitalisation as well as highlighted the importance of e-commerce and digital marketing.


But that change as been "cosumer lead" in the first place. Consumers are now using digital and mobile means, in order to interact with small hospitality providers.


But if you are not visible to your customers online, or do not communicate properly that you can satisfy their needs with your offering, you will miss out on a lot of opprtunities and business. This will ultimately hurt your bottom line.

For these businesses that were not traditionally designing their online customer journeys or the online buying process, we have decided to design one for you.


This can be used by:


  • Small and Medium hotel

  • B&B

  • Activity/Attraction provider

  • Food provider

  • Restaurant /Bar







First of all, when it comes to marketing online the world is filled with content and businesses are fighting for consumer's attention.


YOU MUST STAND OUT FROM THE CROUD!


That means you must complete on UNIQUENESS and individuality of your property/service. You can compete on various levels:


-Location

-History

-Facilities

-Flexibility

-Team

-Food

-Approach

-Entertainment


Bear in mind, safety has now also become one of the USP - and a very important one in fact. You MUST communicate to your customers what safety measures you have introduced, and how safe your customers, as well as employees, can feel.


Think of 1-3 things/aspects, which make your business DIFFERENT from your competitor. We all have it - just think about it. You will need this for your new digital and social strategy.



YOUR NEW ONLINE CUSTOMER BUYING JOURNEY



STAGE 1: Awerness/ initial pereption


You customer needs to become aware of you. At this stage, all of your marketing and content and material needs to be planned strategically, in order to GRAB potential customer's attention for the initial awareness. You need to answer these questions with your content.


  • What does the customer know about your brand/ business?

  • What does the customer think of us?

  • Why is product/service /our offer relevant to him, right now?




TRIGGER:

  • Do I need a break right now?

  • Why do I need a break right now?

  • Reasons, benfits , insteress, wellness, wellebing etc


Now obviously the REASONS for why he or she needs a break right now will be different, for a different group of people. This is why it is crucial to plan a different type of content with a different type of message, for a different type of audience.


Parents with children will have different reasons for looking to book a hotel and will need different benefits. They will also have totally different needs, then a group of 4 single friends, looking for a girl's weekend bonding tip.



SUGGESTED MEDIA:


Digital: Video on your website or social media or booking sites, Direct email to your database, SMS, social media content (organic content, as well as paid ads- Facebook/Instagram, would be very successful), Various 3rd party booking providers such as trivago or booking.com


Non- digital: Radio, Outdoor display, local press,






STAGE 2: Considersation /evaluation


Now that you have his/her interest and have awakened/triggered a need in your customer that he WANTS and NEEDS a break (accommodation, dinner, lunch, entertainment), you need to participate and plan for his consideration as well as an evaluation process. Your content should accommodate that. This means you should plan in advance to have enough reviews, testimonials, pictures.

  • What other hotel properties/restaurants will I evaluate to make this decision?

  • How do other properties/restaurants compare to the one I am considering?

  • Which fits my needs or desires and/or need most?

  • Which fits my personality and my situation (for example family break with small kids, or a dog owner)

  • Which can I afford?

  • What will my friend ana d family think of me for staying/eating there? Positive? Will they be impressed

  • What do my friends think?


FRIENDS: have a huge impact on decision making, especially for young travellers.

And this is why INFLUENCER MARKETING is also so successful in this area, because a lot of research shows people trust influencers as much, if not more, than their friends. They take their favourite influencer's recommendations very seriously and act on them. They treat influencers as a very reliable sources of advice.



TRIGGER FOR ONLINE BOOKING/PURCHASE


  • How much will it cost me?

  • Do you have the food I want?/ do you have the facilities I want

  • Will I be safe?

  • Will I find it (location) easily and park easily around it?

  • What will be my experience like?



SUGGESTED MEDIA


Digital: Pay per click advertising: Facebook, Instagram, google - one or combination.

Our Website, Our gallery. Customer reviews: on the website, tripadvisor, 3rd party apps, google, Facebook. Retargeting ads: either via Facebook or google



Non-digital: Brochures, leaflets, on-site visit







STAGE 3: POST PURCHASE- ADVOCACY


I want everyone to know about my experience!


Now the customer has booked a trip, overnight stay, lunch, dinner or activity and "consumed/used" the service. He /she will probably want to spread the news about it. Your job is to PLAN for this stage and use it to your advantage. Be ready by simplifying that exprience to your customers or REMIND them what to do.


If you do not ask them for that review on google, chances are they will forget. If you won't communicate it clearly on your Instagram page that you will reward the best pictures of your hotel, customers might not even bother to put them online and tag you in it.


Of course, this entire process is totally up to the customer and very authentic but...you are also playing a big part here.



THIS STEP IS STILL A PART OF YOUR CUSTOMER'S BUYING PROCESS.


The mistake we see a lot of business make is that they assist their client in awareness, evaluation or purchase stages, and completely forget about the post-purchase and advocacy stages


If you do, you will miss on an amazing opportunity for complimentary marketing, but more importantly for building a community of passionate and engaged customers or evangelists.

How tasty the food was, how safe I felt, how much my family enjoyed it.


Customers will be thinking :

  • How can I tell people how great my expoeience was?

  • How can I be part of your world/ brand/ club?


SUGGESTED MEDIA



COMMUNITY BUILDING - support local causes

Customer relationship: community, newsletter, events

Loyalty programs, discounts, competitions

Refer a friend - discount

User-generated content: competitions- best pictures, come up with new name, pools

COMMUNITY BUILDING- support local causes







TO END,


We hope that this online customer buying journey will paint a clear picture of what content, as well as media, are needed, at different stages of this cycle.


If you have any questions drop us a message.


Do not forget to follow us on Instagram for more daily news and updates, and subscribe to our newsletter :)



Pauline

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