How many different stages do you think people go through when buying a holiday? Planning and booking are the most obvious, but in fact Google carried out a study that identified five stages of travel:
- 1. Dreaming
- 2. Planning
- 3. Booking
- 4. Experiencing
- 5. Sharing
- With some clever marketing, you can make sure that you have got each stage covered. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll post some suggestions about how to make your self-catering accommodation as visible as possible to holidaymakers at every step of the travel cycle.
Stage #1: DREAMING
This is the stage that triggers the thought I need a holiday. We are all influenced by many types of online activity: from online ads and YouTube clips, to the marketing emails and newsletters we receive in our inbox, to seeing our friends’ and family’s photos on Facebook, to reading online reviews and magazine articles.
70% of affluent travellers begin researching travel online, without a specific destination or mode of travel in mind. You have the opportunity to start them dreaming. Here are some tips to help make people aware of your holiday property even at this very early stage:
Stay in touch with your guests
Even after their holiday. You collect contact information when visitors book online. By sending regular, interesting marketing emails and newsletters to past guests, you are keeping the memory alive. When those same visitors start thinking about where to go next year, hopefully they will remember what a fantastic holiday they had at your property, and how much more there is still to see …
Make sure you keep your own social media pages fresh and exciting. Stay in contact with previous guests through e.g. Facebook and Twitter. Not only does this help build relationships (which can influence the decision to return), but you may be able to share their holiday photos on your own page, building a great image gallery. Remember, this is the ‘dreaming’ stage, so showcase your holiday property at its very best. When guests post “I had a fantastic holiday at Sunshine Cottages, can’t wait to go back!” like it, comment and share or favourite it.
Interact with your guests, find out what their top tips are, what did they enjoy the most on their holiday at your property? Often these conversations create content for your blogs and newsletters, keeping the cycle going.
On you own website, post blogs that celebrate what staying at your holiday property has to offer. Festivals, surfing competitions, foodie events, attractions, the award-winning nearby eateries, anything that makes the holiday experience you offer stand out. Include some impressive photos, so visitors can see themselves there.
Monitor your online presence. Aside from your own website and social media channels, what else is being said about you online? You can set up Google Alerts to find out if and when your property is mentioned; it is important that you know so you can have your say. Encourage visitors to write reviews, and then check to see what has been written on sites like Trip Advisor. Respond where possible. Even a negative review can be turned into a positive if you respond appropriately. This shows potential visitors that you care about your guests’ opinions and recommendations, and gives you the opportunity to inform people about any changes that have been made. This early stage of the travel cycle will influence the rest of the decision making process for travellers, so it is important to do all you can to ensure your property is represented in a good light.
The next stage is Planning. Stay posted, our next blog will recommend how to give yourself the best chance to be as visible as possible in this busy online market.