It may seem like an obvious thing to say, that as a hotel, and business, you need to understand who your guests are.

When we say ‘understand’ who your guests are, we’re not talking about knowing that Mrs Smith from High Wycombe is coming to stay for a weekend in July – we’re talking about understanding what drives them. Once you understand this you can begin to relate to them as human beings, delivering a much more personalised marketing strategy.

Why do you need to understand who your guests are and relate to them? Well, people are more likely to buy something when they feel a brand ‘gets them’. In a study by Wunderman, a whopping 79% of consumers said that brands have to demonstrate that they ‘understand and care about me’ before they consider making a purchase.

With your guests making the purchase decision inundated with choice, it is important to make sure you stand out by showing that, as a brand, you understand their individual needs.

If you can master this, then those guests are more likely to come to you directly, rather than stumble across you on a price comparison site.

How do you speak to your individual guests?

To make sure you’re delivering the right message to your guests, both returning and potential new guests, it is worth spending the time to create a picture, or persona, of what your ideal guests look like.

As part of your marketing or business strategy you likely have types of guests you are looking to increase bookings from, for example business travellers, or you may want to just increase direct bookings from all types of guests to reduce your reliance on Online Travel Agents (OTAs).

Buyer personas, or marketing personas as you may have heard them referred to, are generalised and fictional representations of your ideal guests. They aren’t however purely of use to your marketing department, they are an invaluable exercise that helps all aspects of your business internalise what the ideal customer looks like and allows you to relate to your customers as real human beings.

You may only have one or two ideal guest personas, you may have one hundred – it all depends on you as a business and the audience you’re looking to attract.

At the most basic level, creating personas will allow you to tailor your messaging to your target audience and help with creating segments for your campaign.

So what should you be looking at when working out what your ideal guest looks like?

You may be wanting to attract more corporate bookings, you may be wanting to increase bookings for a spa weekend break. Whatever your reason for looking to target a specific type of guest, there are a couple of questions you should be able to answer to build your personas.

  • What value do your ideal guests see in booking your hotel?
  • What is it that attracts them to you?
  • How much are they willing to pay?
  • Where do you find these guests online?
  • What kind of content pulls them in?
  • What features are most important to them?

Not as easy as it seems when you start thinking about it, is it?

The truth is that you can answer these questions, and more.

Use your knowledge. Tap into your own knowledge, and that of your staff. Speak to people from your front of house team, your restaurant team, spa team… anyone who interacts with your guests. They could very well have valuable insight which will help you build your guest profiles.

The power of data. Your hotel is brimming with data about your guests. From your Hotel PMS, your online booking platform, your website, your email sending platform, your social media and even your spa software, you have an abundance of data on your guest’s behaviour available. The only problem can be that it is all in individual silos across your hotel – but it is there. Bringing together the data segmented across your hotel, through use of an integrated CRM, can allow you to build a single view of your guests. This means you can see where guests with certain demographic traits found you online or what content they engaged with, for example. The insight you can find will only be limited by the data you have and how you analyse it.

Email marketing or CRM platforms will also usually include the functionality to segment your contact data so your recipients only receive content from you that they are interested in. You can apply this in many ways, from giving the option within your emails for the recipient to adjust their preferences, or by giving them the option of selecting the type of content they want when signing up online. By looking at these preferences alongside engagement results from your email marketing, as part of your single view of your guest’s data, you can start to understand what kind of content resonates with your different guests as part of creating your personas.

Ask your guests. This may seem like an obvious one, but speak to your guests. Following a stay, you can survey your guests to ask them what features are important to them, what attracted them to your hotel, what they enjoyed, what they didn’t and so on. You can even use specialised reputation management platforms to manage this with many, such as GuestRevu, allowing you to integrate this data into your guest profiles by using a CRM to bring all of this insight into one place.

By taking the time to build a profile of your ideal guests you can make sure what you’re offering really stands out in a crowded marketplace and that both potential and returning guests come to you direct.

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