Following the Consumer Path in Decision Making

Why would a hospitality company want to invest so much into creating a strong presence through video, Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, and other social media? Frankly, it’s part of the dreaming and planning process that consumers might consider with regard to a property. Moreover, it controls for consistency with your brand promise, your target market for the property, and even your hotel’s objectives.

The fact of the matter is, today’s consumers take alternate paths over time to making a booking and even sharing their experience while at your property.

Think for a moment about the pre-stay. You could have a leisure customer checking the national or state tourist organization site to find out what’s available and what the destination has to offer. They could be contacting the convention and visitors bureau to find out what information there might be about that particular location. And they could be using a website like Passkey to find out information about what leisure activities are associated with some event.

Pre-stay can also involve interactions with an online travel agency, your brand site, or even sites like Groupon where individuals may be putting together a package to offer before they even think about staying at your property.

Continuing along that time continuum, you can think also about the stay. With over a billion bloggers and Facebook users, 500,000 Twitter accounts, and 100,000 Instagram users out there, you can bet that a good percentage of your consumers are saying something while staying at your property. Did they snap a pretty picture of the lobby, the lounge, the view from their room? Did they have an especially helpful interaction with a concierge while staying at the property? Did they find interesting things to do or places to eat using your property’s interactive mobile application?

And finally, there’s the post-stay. That opportunity for the customer to savor the experience, download or upload pictures from the property, or post a TripAdvisor review.

And it’s not just the leisure consumer. There are business consumers, there are individuals who are traveling by themselves, with groups, or as part of a large event as well. There are even transition consumers such as your business travelers who also stay at your property for leisure purposes.

There are many paths, many consumers, many objectives.

The entire decision making process is evolving with media and often can involve multiple forms of imagery, emotion, and cognition before arriving at a complicated decision. The time has come to forget about the traditional one dimensional view of the consumer.