Today, hotels need to be visible and actively influencing the decisions of guests throughout the travel journey, from initial spark of inspiration to the point of final booking.
This often convoluted journey can be understood in terms of a customer’s progression through the search funnel, defined by a series of stages that involve changes in search behavior and buying intent along the path to purchase.
In the following post, we’ll describe what these different stages look like, how travelers behave at each step of their trip planning, and how your hotel can use this information to plan strategic search marketing campaigns for maximum impact.
What is the search funnel?
The search funnel is a visual guide of customer behavior during the journey to conversion. The further (or less relevant) a customer is to you or your product, the higher they are in the funnel.
For example, a person searching for “hotels in Nashville” is higher in the funnel than someone searching for “boutique hotels in Nashville.”
By the same token, “boutique hotels on Music Row” is even further down the funnel than “boutique hotels in Nashville” since the user is indicating not only the type of property they’d like to stay at, but also the specific neighborhood of the city they’re interested in.
Customer behavior within the search funnel
Customer behavior differs significantly through each stage of the funnel. In broad terms, the journey begins with a mindset of curiosity, moves into a stage of conducting specific research, and culminates with a customer who’s ready to buy.
Understanding this shift in mindset, behavior, and buying intent is paramount to ensuring your hotel markets itself effectively at each phase of the funnel.
For the purposes of this article, we’ve split the funnel into three categories: awareness, consideration, and intent. For each stage, we’ll describe what actions your customers are taking and what impact this should have on your search marketing strategy.