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The importance of online guest engagement

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) provide travelers with a variety of accommodation options in one place, and put information at their fingertips. They are also the leading resource during the planning phase of a trip, and remain prevalent through the booking path, with OTAs converting the most travelers[1]. But understanding the phases leading up to the trip, and the traveler and guest experiences throughout, is a fundamental part of maintaining a hotel’s online reputation.

Understanding the Traveler Journey
There are four phases to the traveler journey: dreaming and planning, shopping and booking, the stay itself and post-trip. Throughout this journey, today’s tech-savvy mobile-first travelers are looking for personalized content that is relevant to their preferences[2], and when considering a purchase, they take advantage of the endless resources available online. So, what tools can hoteliers use to help attract and engage travelers throughout their journey?

Influencing the Guest Experience
The tools available in Expedia® PartnerCentral (EPC) can help hoteliers inform, influence and engage with travelers throughout their journey. Using EPC, hoteliers can access market data about what travel shoppers are most interested in to help improve property content, optimize photos and provide tools to better engage and influence a hotel partner’s online reputation.

Attracting Travelers with Dream-worthy Content
During the initial dreaming and planning phase, travelers are viewing immense amounts of content and researching their options; they want to imagine themselves in a destination and experiencing their vacation. A 2016 study found that 35 percent of U.S. travelers start their search with multiple destinations in mind and average 140 visits to travel sites in the 45 days leading up the booking[1]. Once they’ve chosen a destination, robust hotel descriptions, compelling imagery, and information on nearby points of interest can all influence a consumer’s hotel booking decision.

Use Market Data to Help Lock in Bookings
Now that a hotel’s compelling content is attracting travelers to their listing, how can they use data and analytics to secure the booking? As travelers move into the booking phase, hoteliers still need to account for travelers’ diverse needs and budgets. Hoteliers can attract more travelers, and increase the likelihood of converting a booker, by offering a wide variety of room types and rate plans. Leveraging performance and market information, along with public shopping data, can help hotels set pricing and implement strategies that convert travelers.

Easier – and Earlier Guest Engagement
Success! The traveler has booked a stay at a hotel’s property. Once a traveler has booked, the hotelier can begin delivering on guest experience by opening the lines of communication before guests arrive at the property. Tools such as EPC Conversations, which helps create first impressions and set expectations with custom messages or check-in instructions, enable these early conversations.

The Stay
Continued engagement with a traveler once they embark on their journey is key to creating a positive experience, as engaged guests are also 40 percent more likely to return to the property[3]. This on-site communication can help uncover potential issues during a time when hotels are in the optimal position to resolve or avoid a potentially negative guest experience, and create a positive impression and increase the likelihood of receiving higher post-trip guest review.

Reliving the Journey
Research has also shown that 49 percent of travelers won’t book a hotel without a review and most hotel guests read 6 -12 reviews before booking[4], which is why OTAs encourage guests to leave reviews. It’s also important for hotels to respond to questions and concerns from past guests.

Happy Travelers
Investing in their online presence and guest satisfaction are key drivers for hotels to use to help increase positive reviews, generate more direct traffic, improve visibility and grow conversion. These investments help keep travelers happy and comfortable for their first stay – and every visit after.

To learn more about enhancing your customer engagement, read the full white paper.

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[1] Expedia Media Solutions, The Traveler’s Path to Purchase, White Paper, 2016
[2] Skift, The Hotel-Guest Dynamic is Changing, 2015
[3] Hotel Online, Hotel Guests Engaged During Stay 40% More likely to Come Back, 2016
[4] TripAdvisor and PhocusWright, Custom Survey Research Engagement, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

PreethiPortrait
PREETHI RAMANI
SENIOR DIRECTOR
PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

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Expedia PartnerCentral is informative and insightful. I feel empowered, with the tools I need to help drive revenue and manage guest relations at my fingertips.

KELLY CARDONA
DIRECTOR OF REVENUE MANAGEMENT
PGA NATIONAL RESORT & SPA

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