With Hotel Marketing Spend At An All Time High, How Can You Protect Your Top of Funnel Investment? | By Ellis Connolly – Hospitality Net

Planning a trip is no small task, and, in many cases, prospective travelers immerse themselves in destination and hotel research before making a booking decision. Studies show that travelers conduct an average of 33 searches and check 12 travel sites prior to booking, with online searches spanning two minutes to six hours. Research also indicates that this process can take 19 days or, for those content to take their time, up to 100 days.

Within an increasingly competitive marketplace, hotels of all types find themselves investing more and more of their marketing budget to drive traffic and direct bookings. But how can hotels protect that investment and maximize ROI? How can they better identify and cater to guest needs while capitalizing on the most meaningful touch-points along the booking journey to encourage a purchase decision? In simple terms, how can hotels stack the conversion odds in their favor in a world where high conversion rates are increasingly challenging to earn and maintain?

Just as you can “bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” you can bring a potential guest to your hotel’s website, but their booking decision is never guaranteed. Successful brands aren’t at mercy to the elusive nature of guest favor; rather, they understand and cater to this reality. These hotels understand the booking journey and effectively optimize for it.

Optimizing The Booking Journey

Hotels spend a great deal of money, time, and resources to make travelers aware of their brand and, more importantly, get them onto their website. In a survey of representatives of the hotels and motels industry in the United States, it was found that in 2020 the sector spent roughly 2.72 billion U.S. dollars on advertising. In the year prior to that, the industry’s ad expenditures reached 1.36 billion dollars.

This is a necessary investment. However, it is one that should be simultaneously protected with bottom-of-the-funnel tools that encourage and reinforce conversion. Within the hospitality booking funnel, one wrong move can ensure a prospective guest takes their business elsewhere and, in some cases, they may never look back.

In general, the traveler’s path to booking can be divided into three main components:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Consideration and competitor analysis
  3. Conversion

In the hospitality industry, a great deal of attention is paid to the top of the funnel; after all, how can any hotel brand expect to convert prospective travelers to loyal guests if those travelers aren’t first made aware of that hotel brand? Conversion often cannot be achieved without brand awareness. A study from McKinsey revealed that brands in the initial consideration set were more than twice as likely to win business compared to brands considered later in the decision journey.

Sealing the Deal With More Direct Bookings

We’ve all been there – the moment in which your booking decision still hangs in the balance while your mouse hovers enticingly over the ‘Book Now’ button. This is the inflection point of the sales funnel when the tug-of-war between the seller and buyer is finally set to give way to a successful outcome. However, this moment often represents a significant pain point for hotel brands that are struggling to achieve high conversion rates.

Hotels should invest in tools that encourage and reinforce both the decision to purchase and post-purchase evaluation. Perhaps the most valuable (and most underrated) tool hotel brands have in their arsenal to achieve this is instant gratification. Using a modern approach to guest loyalty, hotels can seamlessly motivate customer loyalty with personalized, instantly-selectable rewards that help their brand increase net revenue, drive member engagement, and build dynamic customer relationships.

Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and big data, next-generation rewards platform Laasie incentivizes desired behavior and builds brand affinity while helping to maximize the purchase moment and protect top-of-funnel investments. After all, what is the use of those top-of-funnel investments if hotels cannot seal the deal with a conversion at the end of the funnel? Just as the success of a football team is gauged by the number of touchdowns they achieve in a game, the success of a hotel is determined by a healthy conversion strategy that continuously ushers loyal customers onto their property.

Offering guests instant, hyper-personalized rewards during the booking journey isn’t an expense. Rather, it’s a revenue driver that helps to push that guest over the finish line towards a reservation, helps to enhance and extend feelings of post-purchase satisfaction, and keeps them coming back. By shifting away from the traditional loyalty model that favors delayed gratification, hotels can effectively drive direct bookings, differentiate their brand from competitors, and establish a relationship with guests that keeps them coming back, time and time again.

So maybe you can bring a horse to water AND make it drink after all!

Ellis Connolly
Chief Revenue Officer

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