What influences a traveller’s decision on where to go, which hotel to book and how you do it? Is it your peers or the media you consume? Is it user-generated content and reviews like TripAdvisor? The type of tourist one becomes is indeed shaped by a high level of influence from people we socialise with.
So who is a peer?
The official definition goes something along the lines of ” a person who is equal in abilities, qualifications, age, background and social status. People with similar demographic and psychographic factors, location proximity and interests. And in many instances they include family.
How do peers influence each other and the travel booking process?
Peers influence travel and booking decisions in a number of ways. The most obvious ones include:
- User-generated content from review driven websites like TripAdvisor and feefo. And peer relevance comes through the link between TripAdvisor and say a social media website like Facebook.
- Social media experiences shared on sites like Facebook with friends and family
- Whatsapp and similar peer chat groups
- Shared media with viral videos on youtube or similar.
How important is peer influence in the booking process? Why do something about it?
Phocuswright reports that 59% of travellers say online travel reviews are influential, 54% say pictures and videos on social media networks shape their opinions, and 31% say Youtube videos are important. These preferences compare with only 16% for ads or posts sponsored by travel companies and 11% for travel blogs.
And the reason it matters is that customers trust user-generated content more while making that final booking decision that drives conversion.
How much influence does a hotel marketer have on peer influence?
Does it feel like there is not much a hotel marketer can do to influence peer behaviour when it comes to bookings? Actually, there is a lot that one can do.
- Positioning of a hotel in comparison to what the actual product and service offering is, needs to match customer perception and expectations
- The quality of service and service recovery when things don’t go to plan has a big impact
- Relevant pricing and packaging based on the audience as always will be key
- Promotions that appeal to the audience, encourages sharing and is easy to share will make an impact
- Responding to user-generated content and reviews where possible pro-actively, positively and consistently matters
What can your hotel do to influence peer-driven bookings?
- Do a positioning audit – is your target audience talking about your hotel in the way you’d like it to be perceived? If not, identify the gap between hotel positioning and guest expectations.
- Benchmark with competition to see who is getting it right and borrow best practices.
- Review pricing to ensure that it meets the needs of the target audience. Build packages based on reviews and comments to maximise impact
- Choose the most relevant channels where your audience trades messages to achieve higher visibility with marketing campaigns
- Incentivise sharing offers in return for benefits
- High visibility branded products sold or as giveaways at hotel that encourages guests to “show and tell”
- Review the booking process to understand key areas where peer influence come into play
Can you measure peer influence?
While it can be hard to establish a comprehensive picture, a simple question during the booking, check-in or check-out process can help establish if a guest discovered your hotel through a peer mention or referral.