Hotels or accommodation providers get a variety of guests. While it may not be possible to give them strict labels, it is considered useful to segment the guests under certain categories. These categories require hoteliers to define guest personas based on the kind of travelers a hotel receives. Often, the ideal guest persona that a hotel must target overlaps with the ‘ideal guest type’ that a hotel aspires to attract. Bringing in more of the latter kind could be a goal for a hotel, but the focus must remain in knowing and bifurcating into types the guests that it welcomes and directing efforts towards pursuing them.
Hotel guest segmentation makes decision-making easier concerning the kind of pricing strategies that a hotel must employ, ways in which guest experiences can be personalized, and even the right marketing messages that must go out to the targeted audience. You must be wondering what these hotel guest personas could be and how to attain and maintain a connection with them. Let’s delve into some details, with this blog.
Hotel Guest Persona
- What is it?
- Why do we need it?
- How do we craft one?
- What are some of the types?
A hotel guest persona is a hypothetical model of guests which is created with insights derived from data, as well as experiences shared by guests who frequent a hotel. These fictional biographies serve to create an archetype of guests that a hotel must target.
When specific attributes are identified in guests, it is possible to examine their journeys from start to finish – booking a stay, the stay itself, and finally, the post-stay review. A large number of hoteliers are relying on tools such as Property Management Systems which streamline tasks for them. From making easy reservations to suggesting pricing plans, tying with Channel Manager software for inventory management, and even reputation management, a PMS takes care of just about everything for these hoteliers.
With data that is organized and stored securely in cloud-based systems, by a PMS, a hotelier can improve guest experiences, maximize revenue derived from each guest, cultivate favourable reviews and earn repeat bookings.
There are a few parameters based on which these guest personas can be profiled. Some of the basic variables that could help in segmentation have been listed below.
When creating this persona segmentation, remember to make a start with at least a few and keep adding or modifying, as and when you identify more. The motive is not to represent every single one of the guests, but to find traits that are typical to a group.
- Purpose of stay: People arrive at hotels for different reasons – attending weddings, business meetings, etc., to name a few. Each one of them is then going to have a unique set of needs and expectations.
- Demographics: Age, gender, location or region one belongs to, length of stay, number of people accompanying, etc., can be important things to know when creating personas
- Qualitative Attributes: Data could help you a great deal, but to be able to create an elaborate picture of your guest persona, the information one receives from staff members, group planners, etc can be vital.
Why do we need a hotel guest persona?
An absence of a guest persona makes it impossible for a hotelier to understand the audience that he/she is attempting to reach. A generalized marketing plan and information that lacks any depth fails to give hoteliers a peek into important aspects such as how guests select their hotel, the things that matter most to them about a stay, and how bookings can be increased.
Foresighted marketers and hoteliers believe in generating custom experiences for their guests, based on their preferences and interests. But without a robust guest persona, it is impossible to create a personalized experience. For example, a family of four and a team of event planners in town for work must ideally receive a distinct set of actionable recommendations. Similarly, solo travelers who are interested in exploring the sights and sounds of a place must communicate differently, as opposed to a wedding party.
Reaching out to one’s audience at the right time and place with the right message helps in making a lasting impression on them and technology can help in this by efficiently segmenting customers. But one must remember to go beyond the strict walls of demographic factors such as age, location, etc., and consider that we’re ultimately marketing to humans. It is therefore important to know what motivates and inspires them, as well as the places where they go to seek information.
How do we craft a hotel guest persona?
An adequate amount of research is necessary for hoteliers to be able to craft guest personas specific to their hotels. There are several data sources that one can turn to, to gather relevant information – website analytics, social media numbers, CRM data, etc. This kind of data, along with insights received from a hotel’s staff, reviews from guests and travel planners, etc., is then put together to form a story and format which is usable by marketers, hoteliers, and others.
- Google Analytics:
Google Analytics provides information about a range of things. From the very beginning of the guest journey i.e., the time when they search for information and find your hotel’s website, to what drives that interest in your property instead of other competitors and many other things in between, Google Analytics can give you insights like none other. Demographic segments which most visit your hotel and the referral links which bring them in is one such bit of information.
If one has access to advertising features, then they can provide information about demographics and their interests, filtered down by elements like conversion value and goal completion. Such information can also build an understanding of the demographics who have sought direct bookings through your website to reserve their stay. Interest reports can also tell us which factors the guests have more affinity towards, based on their browsing activity across Google’s Display Network. Knowing about your guest’s areas of interest can also help in determining which publications one could use to reach out to them or a similar audience.
- Social Media Analytics:
Social media analytics gives a good overview of demographics, which is useful when used in conjunction with the insights received from Google Analytics. By comparing and finding the commonalities between the two, one can get a good overview of the demographics.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can give immense amounts of information about the age, location, gender, and even household income and interest categories. This gives a rough idea about the kind of guests to include in one’s list of personas.
- CRM Data:
CRM data introduces you to trends that may otherwise go unnoticed or maybe missed easily. This data may carry stories that could aid in adding details to the fictional biographies which you may create with the help of Google Analytics or social media analytics.
Commonalities such as the location from which you receive the most number of business travelers or the age group of travelers who visit your website before making a booking can all be found out through this tool.
- Staff Feedback:
Hotel staff has regular interactions with guests, which makes them a treasure trove of information, which no tool can provide. This information can come in handy while developing guest personas. Since the staff helps guests throughout their stays, they’ll likely be more exposed to complaints as well as compliments concerning a hotel and its services. These help in understanding guest behavior, as well as other qualitative aspects such as their motivations and frustrations.
When asked about guests and their behaviors/responses etc., staff must be aware of the need to give well-rounded feedback, which includes both negative and positive points.
- Guest Review Analysis:
Guest reviews are a rich source of qualitative information which is hard to find elsewhere. Scan through guest reviews to find insights into how they think, the kind of things they value, and even those that they hate. When you access these reviews you’ll agree that the negative reviews are often more helpful than the positive ones, as they may point towards specific areas which need attention or change.
When you juxtapose these behaviors with the hypothetical traveler personas, you would be able to develop a more powerful model. For example, a specific persona, such as a wedding party might have a specific set of qualitative attributes.
To get you started, we have listed below some guest personas. You may find some of these arriving at your hotel often, and some you’ll discover when you indulge yourself in data.
- Business Traveler: Their sole mission is work and a location’s sights do not interest them much. Would like information coming their way about the best restaurants and cafes nearby where they could conduct their meetings.
- Bleisure Traveler: Their main focus is on work too, but try to find time for leisure activities as well. They often try to make use of their travels as opportunities for mini-vacations. Posts about the ‘in-room office’ services offered by hotels interest them.
- Green Traveler: They are eco-conscious travelers. They are sustainability-minded and are careful about the carbon footprint that their travels have on the planet. They incline towards hotels/accommodations which practice sustainability and make a conscious effort towards maintaining a healthy ecology.
- Gen-Z Travelers: These are mostly gap-year students who are on a break from university and wish to explore the world on a limited budget. These are a growing category of travelers that hotels must take note of.
- Digital Nomads: These people often telecommute to work, rather than traveling to physical workspaces. Due to the nature of their work, great wi-fi is their most essential need.
Guest persona is a description of the kind of guests your hotel property attracts. They are key to devising marketing strategies that resonate with the right customers and result in bookings. Data, both qualitative and quantitative, can help in developing detailed personas, specific to your property. For quantitative, error-free data, one could resort to tools such as the Property Management System offered by Hotelogix. It can provide a user with a review of their booking history, identify patterns in age, region, no. of guests per room, as much more. Remember to collect data from such reliable sources, when you get down to creating your hotel’s traveler persona.
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