Fuel Travel gives us some interesting insight on how understanding the psychology of your client will help your online marketing efforts and drive more direct bookings.
Let’s talk a little marketing psychology. It is important for marketers in any industry to have a solid understanding of how our customers think, feel, and act. For hoteliers and hotel marketers, having a clear understanding of the travel shopping journey and what motivates our potential guests is priceless. Not only does it help us sympathize and address pain points during the travel shopping process, but also learn how to better communicate with shoppers during their evaluation and decision-making processes.
Though this complex, and rather fascinating, discipline can get rather granular when studying consumer behavior, there are several simple concepts that savvy marketers can easily master and implement into campaigns.
Goal: To understand what drives consumers’ decisions and then optimize your hotel website to speak to key decision-making factors.
Outcome: To master a few key principles and take your marketing messaging from good to amazing.
In this article, we are going to cover 5 simple concepts that you can employ throughout your hotel’s booking process to help positively influence sales.
1.) Social Proof
A concept that many people are probably already familiar with, social proof demonstrates that people view behavior correct if other people are doing it.
We see this often when our favorite sitcom plays a laugh track at the funny parts or when nightclubs limit entry to create a line outside.
From a hotel perspective, you can easily integrate this throughout your booking process with simple messages related to how many people are currently viewing a specific page or how many people have already booked a particular room or special. Furthermore, hotels can demonstrate social proof by showcasing relevant reviews or guest testimonials at different spots throughout the conversion funnel.
- Showcase how many people are currently viewing a particular page (Ex: 7 people currently viewing this room)
- Showcase how many people have already booked a particular room (Ex: 30 people have booked this room for January)
- Show guest testimonials throughout booking process (Ex: The staff was incredible and the room was immaculate – highly recommend!)
The concept of scarcity simply states that humans consider a scarce object more valuable than one which is abundant. The rarer the opportunity or product, the more valuable it is. This is basic supply and demand and this condition has placed itself permanently in the minds of consumers.
There are some interesting studies behind the power of scarcity, including the “11,000 club” experiment. This “exclusive” club offered 11,000 people the opportunity to join the club for one exceptional benefit: the chance to be a member of the club. No information was given – people signed up just to join and be a part of the club.
Hotels can use messaging throughout the booking process to showcase a limited inventory or a limited time offer.
- Limited inventory → “Only 2 rooms left!”
- Limited time offer → “Only 12 hours left for reduced rates!”
Urgent situations cause us to suspend deliberate thought and to act quickly. Creating a sense of urgency will cut through cognitive friction and reduce the amount of time people spend considering alternatives – which is exactly what we want to do when encouraging travel shoppers to move through the conversion funnel.
The retail industry, in particular, has mastered this concept; just think about the shopping frenzy that surrounds annual holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
From a hotel perspective, there are several clever ways to incorporate messaging throughout the booking process to create a sense of urgency.
- Countdown Timers → “Only 2 days left” of a sale; “Rate guaranteed for 10 minutes”
- “Popular travel dates”
- “These dates old out last year”
Anchoring describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily (or “anchor”) on one trait or piece of information when making decisions – in this case, price.
How you are presenting your rates can help persuade consumers they are getting a great deal.
Anchoring is less about your actual pricing and package and about how you are presenting your rates. Creating context can by strategically anchoring your rates will produce a positive effect in relation to how your rates are perceived.
“The Economist” experiment is a notable demonstration of another closely related pricing tactic, “decoy” pricing. The publisher wanted to increase sales for their “print and web” subscription package, which was priced at $125, compared to only $59 for the “web only” package. When presented with only 2 options, 68% opted for the cheaper subscription. However, once The Economist employed a “decoy” price → “web only” = $59; “print only” = $125; “web and print” = $125 → 85% opted for the most expensive but “better deal” subscription.
All of this to say – pricing and presentation matter.
From a hotel perspective, be sure you are using a booking engine software provider that incorporates a few key design elements that allow different colors to be used, strikethrough pricing to be presented, and flexible packaging options to provide more value at a slightly higher price.
- “Regular rate” – slashed; lower rate shown with percent of reduction
- Packages (include breakfast, etc. for slightly higher – or even the same rate)
5.) Trust & Risk Mitigation
People want to trust your brand, trust that they are making the right choice, and trust that they are getting the best deal possible. Be sure to incorporate messaging throughout your booking process that will eliminate any doubts in the consumer’s mind they might have about completing a booking with your property.
Amazon.com does a great job at establishing trust and mitigating any potential risk in the shopper’s mind. The online retail giant showcases messaging related to product reviews, free shipping, and the ever-popular “Amazon Prime” 2-day delivery.
There are several simple messages that you can showcase throughout the booking experience to establish trust in the consumer’s mind.
- Free cancellation
- No deposit required
- Free refunds
- Secure booking
- Upsell opportunity → Travel insurance/vacation protection plan
If there was any doubt that these simple concepts actually work, take a look at what travel giants are doing. Hilton Hotels, Marriott, and even the dreaded online travel agent sites already use these concepts throughout the research and booking process.
Booking.com is often referenced as one of the classic examples in the travel space that is doing it right. Complete a destination or hotel search on Booking.com’s website and you will note an abundance of these tactics, and others, at work.
The simple truth is – this is what you are competing against. The travel giants have figured out what works and are using marketing psychology to help keep travel shoppers engaged and to nudge them through the decision making process.
Start small. Go through your booking process (on multiple devices!) and truly evaluate how it could be better. Then, have a conversation with your website and booking engine provider(s) to start testing the utilization of these simple yet effective messaging techniques.
This article was originally published on November 15th, 2017, on Fuel’s website and republished here with permission.
A full-service marketing agency specializing exclusively in digital solutions for the hospitality industry. Established in 1994, Fuel provides an array of products and services such as online booking engines, branded mobile apps, eCRM software, customized analytics dashboards, website development, search engine optimization, paid-advertising management, social media, email marketing, and analytics. Fuel’s data-driven approach and performance are making them a go-to marketing provider for independent properties who want to drive more direct bookings.