I have met with many hoteliers and from all of each of them I heard the same statement: “We want to be closer to our guests.” No offense but many time it looked like that… just a statement. I already consider it to be a cliché as I see that majority of the hotel managers who want to be close to their guests actually don’t know them!
“The majority of hotel managers who want to be closer to their guests actually don’t know them!”
On our blog, we already had a chance to read how David Meerman Scott is often frustrated by the loud music at the gym. But it is not only about the music. The tailored experience for the guests is what will bring you more reservations and thus, revenue.
When we talk about knowing our guests, we talk about creating buyer personas. And when we talk about buyer personas, we have to talk about it with Adele Revella, the Buyer Persona pioneer and author of Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into your Customer’s Expectations, Align your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business.
A buyer persona tells you what prospective customers (your guests) are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company (your hotel) resolves. In order to get insights that will help you align your marketing strategy with guest’s expectation, you should discover the 5 Rings of Buying Insight™:
- Priority Initiative: This insight will give you an answer to question “Why my guests decided to invest their money to the accommodation?”
- Success Factors: This insight will help you understand what your guests expect from the services your or other hotel provide to them.
- Perceived Barriers: This insight will answer the question “What keeps my potential guest from booking the room in my hotel?”
- Buyer’s Journey: This insight reveals details about evaluation of hotels, elimination of candidates and picking up the final choice of your guests. It also reveals details about who is involved in the decision.
- Decision Criteria: This insight shows you which attributes are evaluated by guests as they compare alternative options.
You have a quick overview about what you should discover. However, who should you ask? Your potential customers fall into following 4 groups:
- people who considered you and chose you (your guests)
- people who considered you but chose a competitor (guests of your competitor)
- people who considered you but decided to keep things as they were
- people who never considered you and chose your competitor (guests of your competitor who have never shown their interest in your hotel)
Each abovementioned group can give you different insights that can help you tailor your marketing message and acquire more guests. You can find more on the website of Buyer Persona Institute or in Adele’s book. Moreover, Adele was so awesome that she provided us with her insights that will assure you that the Buyer Pesona concept can be used in hotels, too.
Lukas: Adele, what do you consider to be a difference when doing Buyer Persona research among hotel guests compared to the concept in your book?
Adele: Industry does not have any effect on the approach to building buyer personas. In hospitality or any other industry, you want to find people who have recently made the buying decision you want to influence and ask them to relate their story about that decision.
If I were a marketer for a hotel, I would want people to tell me the story about a recent travel experience where they had a choice about which hotel they would select. This is the same process described in my book, and you would use the same method of probing on every aspect of that decision.
Lukas: Would you address the guest in order to conduct an interview with her during or after the stay? Why?
Adele: The interview would definitely need to occur before the stay, so that you capture the “buying” experience and not the “customer” or “using” experience. Also, I would want to only interview guests who were either first-time guests or rarely stay at the hotel, as those who regularly stay at the hotel probably didn’t evaluate their options. You need to find people who actually made a choice.
Lukas: You probably know that significant amount of hotel bookings comes from booking engines like Booking.com, Trivago etc. How the hotels can influence its users to book their hotel with properly defined buyer personas?
Adele: The hotel will have limited opportunities to influence the purchase on these sites, so their persuasion must take place elsewhere during the buyer’s journey. For example, when I travel I use sites like these to find out what my options are, but my actual choice is a function of my prior impressions of those properties. Or if there is a hotel property I don’t know, I will still visit that hotel’s website to see if it is one I want to book.
I would like to thank Adele for her additional insights and I hope you will find them useful.
So, when are you going to conduct your first interview with your guests? Have you already conducted any? If so, share your experience with our readers in comments.