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5 steps to master the inspiration stage of the guest journey

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Violette booked her honeymoon trip. But this didn’t happen from one moment to another. It started with a Google search about the best resorts for honeymoons. There, she found a couple of options and went into TikTok to find reviews and real images. On those videos, she discovered another resort that an influencer had visited, and finally decided to make a booking.

Google search, paid media, TikTok, influencer marketing… all of these channels were present in Violette’s trip. And the search had nothing to do with the city she was visiting. This is a clear example of how the inspiration stage of the guest journey works.

Everyone’s travel inspiration comes from a variety of sources, and believe it or not, accommodation brands can be present from that moment. In fact, there is a lot of power when hotels are able to influence that stage, even before a person makes a booking.

Yes, it is a wide stage, but if properties learn how to influence this phase, they will gain a lot. It’s the golden opportunity for hotels, resorts, and other accommodations to make a memorable impression.

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The guest journey begins in the inspiration stage

 

Contrary to what many say, the guest journey doesn’t start in the booking moment anymore. It begins in the inspiration stage, where travellers are still deciding where to go. For example, just like Violette, a person watches a TikTok video of their favourite influencer going to a hotel in a certain city, showing the perks and the landscapes. Next, the person is researching on their own about the city and ends up booking in the same hotel of the video, completely influenced by it.

The inspiration stage is the moment when the idea of a trip is just a seed in your mind. It’s all about possibilities. Now, with social media and digital marketing, hotels and destinations have the power to be part of this dreaming phase.

Whether it’s through Instagram posts or TikTok videos, potential travellers start to picture themselves in places they’ve never been. Do you have friends around you who booked a trip simply because of a Taylor Swift concert? Yes, concerts, events, festivals can all be a lodestar to travel destinations now.

Therefore, the marketing team at your property needs to pay attention to this stage of the guest journey if you want to make the travellers stop scrolling and start bookings.

Here are 5 easy steps to help you master this stage and turn dreamers into guests, and guests into loyal advocates.

Step 1: Rethink social media

Social media is evolving faster than ever. Platforms change, audiences migrate, and content preferences shift. For instance, while millennials may have grown up with Facebook as their primary social network, Gen-Z spend all day in TikTok and BeReal. And how about threads, X, Douyin and more? This shift demands a strategic reassessment of how we engage with travellers on these channels.

Beyond just picking the right channels, adapting your content to align with the preferences of these platforms is crucial. This means crafting messages that resonate with the intended audience, using the right formats and the correct tone.

A key aspect of TikTok, for example, is authenticity. Users are drawn to content that feels genuine rather than overly polished or salesy. Stories, user-generated content, and behind-the-scenes looks can be more appealing than edited hotel pictures. Video is king in this social network, already showing you how you could positionate your property in this landscape.

Step 2: Leverage the right platforms

To truly master the inspiration stage, it’s essential to be present where your potential guests are seeking information. For example, travel blogs remain a trusted source for many travellers, but TikTok is also gaining force as a different kind of search engine.

 

Collaborating with or contributing to well-known travel blogs can introduce your brand to a wide range of readers. Moreover, make sure these blogs rank high on search engine results to reach more audiences. There are multiple SEO tactics you can utilise, such as keyword optimization, backlinking and more, which helps improve your ranking and visibility.

Remember, it’s all about selling an experience. Instead of listing amenities or services that don’t evoke any emotions, turn to high-quality images, immersive videos, and engaging narratives about the locality, culture, and unique experiences that can really transform interest into action.

Discover more about how to power your website to drive direct bookings in this article

Step 3: Consider influencer marketing

One of the most effective strategies for mastering the inspiration stage is through influencer marketing. Millennials and Gen Z travellers are the ones who can’t make a travel plan without recommendations from influencers. Therefore, it’s a must try if you specifically want to target this new generation of travellers.

You can take the first step by identifying who you are trying to reach, considering demographics and behaviours.  This can help you research on which influencers your target audience trusts and follows. And then try to find ones that align with your brand value.

Many people view influencer collaborations as one-off transactions, however, building long-term relationships with them can lead to ongoing benefits. Influencers who are genuinely passionate about your brand can become its ambassadors, providing credibility and a trusted voice that continues to inspire potential guests over time.

Step 4: Rely on User Generated Content

Remember the last time you scrolled through your social media feed and paused on a friend’s vacation photo, thinking, “Wow, I wish I was there!”? That’s the magic of user-generated content (UGC) at work.

 

In our digital era, everyone loves a slice of fame, however big or small. Encouraging your guests to share their experiences with your digital channels isn’t just about them; it’s a brilliant way to inspire others. Either tagging the location or tagging your brand, there are many ways you can reuse that content to help you increase your reach.

 

For example, you can create a hashtag and encourage your guests to use it whenever they share content related to their stay. These valuable contents can also enrich your content pool, allowing you to repurpose and share real stories across your channels.

Step 5: Implement a paid ads strategy

While organic reach is invaluable, incorporating a paid ads strategy can complement and amplify your efforts. Platforms like Instagram and Google offer sophisticated targeting options that allow you to present your message to those who are most likely to be interested.

Not only you can work on a cold layer with general keywords referring to your property but if you are using a hospitality CRM, you can use your guest data to create similar audiences or to retarget the users that visited your website on other platforms, making it easier to complete a booking.

To maximise effectiveness, continuously analyse the performance of your ads and adjust your strategies accordingly. This iterative process ensures your message is always resonant and compelling.

Conclusion

In conclusion, mastering the inspiration stage of the guest journey is all about understanding where your potential guests spend their time, what content resonates with them, and how to present your offerings in a way that not only captures their attention but also sparks their imagination. If you are present since the inspiration moment, the rest of the guest journey will be easier since they already have an opinion of you.

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Tags: guest journey, inspiration stage, Steps

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