The importance of content

Reading Time: 7 mins. 05/10/2017

The distribution channels in the tourism market have changed over the last years. Traditional media is not anymore, the most efficient way to get to customers and everyday more and more the On Line presence is the key for a successful direct sales strategy for a hotel. In this entry we are going to talk about the importance of the content for any hotel brand and the impact over the users.
Everyone knows that the distribution channels in the tourism market have changed over the last years. The conversion of an advert at a newspaper, magazine or a brochure is lower than the digital channels.
First of all, we would like to highlight how the customer journey has changed. It’s a customer connected in every moment, has all the information needed to take a decision, cares about other’s opinions and is looking for brands to feel connected with.
From this journey comes the concept of funnel. It represents the path that the users take since the arrives to the website until the convert. If we imagine a funnel, the wider side would be where all the users arrive and the closer site, the bottom of the funnel, represents the users that are booking at the hotel’s website.
The funnel concept basically considers a number of stages to achieve a final goal. In the case of the hotel business this goal would be a booking through their own website. The funnel creates a process based on different milestones or micro-conversions, that will select the quality of the lead and driving the customer to the final goal, that’s no other than welcoming the guest at our hotel.
The new traveller demands a better value proposition, new needs and recommended tourism experiences over the classic commercial messages.  The digital media is the perfect link to connect all the stages a traveller go through since he/she is looking for information about the next destination or becoming loyal to a brand.
When planning the strategy to gain new leads, it’s interesting to know where the information research starts and where it ends the process in order to build up the funnel. These processes will help to understand the different stages that affect at the purchasing process.
  1. Awareness.
  2. Interest.
  3. Consideration/Education.
  4. Purchase.
  5. Experience.
  6. Loyalty.
  7. Prescription and Post Trip.
First step is to gain the attention of the potential customer. The challenge of our hotel brand is to arrive to a customer profile that might feel attracted by our product or redirect the communication to a specific profile.
At the first stage, we might develop a communication strategy with content that would be interesting for this customer profile so that we make our brand known providing knowledge and useful content.
This stage starts when the traveller has arisen a need. This is the moment that triggers a great number of action. The Google research results are one of the key inspiration factors. For this reason, position the brand under relevant research results is a crucial aspect of the marketing strategy.
Our goal is to stand out our benefits in front of the potential customer increasing his/her interest. In order to gain this interest over our brand, we have to work hand to hand with our destination, adding synergies with our hotels and the area we operate.
Once we have achieved to capture this traffic, we should retain and convince the user with valuable content based on their needs. The consideration stage ends when the user has meet his/her concerns and feels confident about the different options that might cover better the needs.
When the traveller knows where to go, the offer evaluation comes into its own. Here is where the competition stage starts and where the OTAs come into play (they are the best option to compare opinions and prices). The best option is to optimize our brand in theses platforms thought the content, images and opinions from customers. Any little detail might be decisive to close the deal.
Once the user has all the information, starts to create a decision criteria. At this moment, the user investigates other websites, metasearch sites, destination websites in order to get enough information to find that service or product that adjusts the best to their needs.
At the moment our potential customer is going to book the hotel we have to analyse all the possible channels to convert. If we want to capture that customer who’s willing to book directly with the hotel we might use a strategy based on different landing pages through Google Adwords. In the other hand, if the customer follows the funnel naturally and arrives to our booking engine, everything should go as expected, we cannot fail at this moment. The ‘moment of truth’ is the sensitive stage of the funnel, everything should be perfect.
At the closing stage, we should facilitate as much as possible the booking process to the future customer. To every decision the traveller might take we should have a perfectly optimized page to trigger the final process.
Hotel companies allocate more and more resources to capture and direct potential customers to their digital ecosystem, but they are forgetting something would be key to close the sale through the direct channel, because the user experience is the critical factor to close a direct sale. This experience starts the very same moment a potential customer thinks about a need and we are there to offer a content that might satisfy these needs.
We can use the funnel to plan the content and messages to the users. The key is to know which users are in each stage and, depending on the objectives set to every group of users, define specific messages to them.
This works basically because when a user starts to stablish a relation with a brand, expects to receive from the brand certain messages based on the funnel stage he/she is.
Brands does not say the same to users that just get to know them than those that are already loyal customers. For this reason, communication should be based on the relation that the user already has with the brand.
At every funnel stage the different actions that are being used are looking for to move a certain group of users to the next stage. The planning of these messages runs parallel with the product development. This means that based on the customer perception to our brand, the market trends and how our competitors are moving, we should adapt our communication.
Notice that, even though the messages used in the last stage of the funnel are made for loyal user, becoming a recognized brand cannot be achieved overnight, consequently brand identity should be built from the beginning. These messages are important as well as per they will attract users who’re looking for something else than a pure purchase, users who’re looking to fell in love with a brand.
Finally, we have to take into account that all the messages, regardless in which funnel stage they are made, should follow the brand’s communication style and tone, what will bring a strong identity to the brand’s communication.
Let’s take an example. Imagine that we are a hotel chain with hotels in Mallorca and Menorca and our potential customer starts to look for the next holidays, a new need has arisen. It’s a stage where the user has doubts about the destination, wants to go to Mallorca, but is not convinced yet, and doesn’t know what the destination offers.
In order to gain user’s attention, we would create a guide on how to find cheap flights. Definitely one of the user’s research in this initial stage is going to be ‘cheap flights’, and our brand will be there to offer useful content for the potential customers.

Next, we would offer a series of content related with the destination in order to clear out any possible doubt and being at the potential customer’s mind. Again, what we are looking for is to gain the user’s attention offering useful content.

It is thus that we create an authentic channel, relevant and useful for our audience, becoming an information source for them being perceived as experts in the market.
As you might see, a good content strategy allows to gain more traffic to your website and improve your conversion rate increasing the hotel’s profitability. For this reason, you should avoid that others gain your customers increasing their profitability.