The Art + Science of Understanding Your Guests

In Strategy, Hospitality

These days, we receive custom movie and show recommendations on Netflix, based on our ratings and viewing history. Amazon sends us offers based on our brand preferences and shopping habits. Consumers have come to expect a detailed and relevant level of personalization. The same is true for travel planning: we expect a personal level of communication and recommendations from travel brands that match our individual travel needs and goals.

The relevance and granularity of personalization is what can ultimately persuade someone to book at a specific property, book direct and even become a loyal, returning guest.

So as a hotelier, how do you know what messaging is going to resonate on a personal level with your target guests? And between leisure and corporate travelers, how do you create marketing campaigns that don’t exclude one group of travelers? The answer is persona-based marketing. There is a significant volume of meaningful data available to travel brands. This data exists in many areas, including guest feedback, exit surveys, and website analytics. Travel brands have the opportunity to leverage the behaviour and booking data from their past guests in order to better understand and define the unique travel personas of their future guests. Each persona should include the following elements:

1. Custom name – This helps to distinguish/ define a persona at a high level.
2. Demographic information – This information pertains to the age, gender, occupation, household income and geographic region(s) where a persona lives.
3. Psychographic insights – These insights are relevant to the travel motivations of a persona, as well as their lifestyle and attitudes, beliefs and values.
4. Behavioural insights – These insights are relevant to a persona’s travel behaviour, including frequency of travel, reason for travel, duration of stay, preferred room type/amenities etc.

Excellent, you’ve combed through and organized your guest data into unique travel personas; so what comes next? Having an understanding (and data-supported) definition of your travel personas enables you to leverage persona-based tactics and messaging for your marketing. You can put together handcrafted content and creative that appeals directly to one of your unique guest personas. As a result of this focus, your offer will resonate strongly with the target audience it has been tailored for. This will result in higher impact ads, increased direct revenue, and strengthened brand loyalty.

Below is an example that shows how the science and art work together:

You are a hotelier, with a luxury boutique-sized property in Chicago. You have carefully curated decor, unique guest rooms and amenities, including a full business centre and meeting rooms. You have seen a recent increase in competition from Airbnb, especially for your business travel segment. After researching and defining the unique travel personas for your hotel, you identify the opportunity to appeal to one specific set: The Corporate Jet Setter. Thomas, an Account Executive at a global software company, falls into the Corporate Jet Setter persona set.

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