The 3-month travel buyer journey – 12 customer touch points you’re missing out on
June 16, 2018 by Matthew Charles
Hooking customers is something of an art.
It’s tricky to know the exact point at which they are most receptive to your brand and offer, made harder still by the fact that we are all different and react differently to varied triggers.
Where one traveller might be hooked by positive feedback, another might prefer a comprehensive website that answers all of their questions.
The good news is that hooking a customer isn’t a blink-and-you-miss-it one chance only attempt.
The average travel buyer journey is well-documented as a 3 month cycle. Within this cycle there are lots of opportunities for hotel and travel companies to attract, inform and convert.
In this article we’ll be dividing this journey up and focusing on the most common customer touch points along the way:
Month One: The search begins
The first month in the travel buyer’s journey could be called the dreamer’s phase. This is when the idea of a getaway transforms into a search for options. The buyer will make a list and hit Google with search keywords related to their dream location, to see whether the cost and time frame is feasible. They will also seek out travel blogs, and social media sites like Pinterest for general inspiration in addition to asking people for advice and suggestions.
To attract and cement travellers’ interest, your ultimate goal here is to become a part of their search and research phase. The biggest way your brand can achieve this is by:
Providing the inspiration.
This is one of the most exciting phases for the buyer – because they aren’t intending to make any hard decisions, their imaginations are able to run wild. So your goal is to be as visible as possible, and give them the very inspiration they crave.
- Hire a professional photographer to take great photos of your hotel and location and post them across your social media platforms. Make sure you take natural or impromptu shots and not just staged ones that may appear too “stock”.
- Ask current guests to upload their own pictures, videos and testimonials to your Facebook page in exchange for small incentives. Video offers a more engaging content medium, and now enjoys more prominence across the major social media sites.
- Assign a social media staff member whose role is to provide quick, friendly, and engaging responses to all queries made on social media platforms.
- As a happy side-effect of this activity, you should see more prominent ranking in search engines. There is more and more evidence to suggest that increased social media prominence impacts on Google’s trust in your content and web pages.
Month Two: The field narrows
At this stage, the travel buyer begins narrowing their choices and decides on a few contender destinations based on budget, availability, and appeal. However, while the broader decisions have been made, this phase sees the buyer focusing on the specifics of their itinerary, such as the hotel, perhaps even a particular room, the local attractions they plan on visiting, right down to restaurants and entertainment choices.
They’ll often switch between social networks and online travel agencies to determine the best rates and they’ll also want to sample more professional opinions from travel journalists or established travel bloggers, to compliment the recommendations of friends and family.
Rather than connecting with potential guests via their social activity, it’s more likely that your touchpoints will occur on your own website, or an online travel agent (OTA). Your goal in this phase is to capture the buyer’s attention and offer them assistance in selecting and planning their travel itinerary. You can do this by:
- Providing guidance on a stress-free travel experience, including tools for scheduling your activities and visits to local attractions. The more savvy hotel brands will offer a bespoke, branded mobile app.
- Telling your hotel’s story and history. Be sure to emphasise what makes you different from your competitors.
- Offering great deals and added benefits when travellers book direct.
- Filling the web with content about your brand. Consider guest posts on travel sites, or contributing to forums on Lonely Planet, Virtual Tourist and similar travel communities.
Month Three: It’s time to make a decision
Here, the buyer’s finger is hovering over the ‘confirm’ button, but how your company approaches customers in this phase can either help seal that purchase, or turn them off. This makes the decision stage the most important one in the three-month buyer’s journey. Potential buyers may still have some hesitancy about whether or not this is the right purchase for them. It’s up to you to assuage these concerns and double down on selling your offer – that yours is the best option for them and their travel plans.
In order to tip the buyer’s decision in your favour, take a more personalised approach and consider reaching out to hot leads in the following ways:
- Establish a simple autoresponder email/blog series to keep connected with potential travellers. This’ll be most effective if you can create several series that are each tailored to different customer interests, e.g. one email series might highlight recreation possibilities for young and active travellers, while another focuses on spa and wellness options, for those seeking a more relaxing experience.
- Offer an exciting calendar of events occurring in the area during their travel week.
- Introduce them to staff members who’ll assist them throughout their stay (this information may also be included within the autoresponders, i.e. a ‘Meet Mary’ and description of her role during the traveler’s stay or visit with your company).
To learn more about the buyer’s journey and to see how Fiz technology can help ace those 12 touch points, contact us today.