man try to navigate a path through question marks asking the questions if hotels need to redefine the guest journey starting point

As we delve deeper into the nuances of the guest journey within the hospitality sector, it becomes increasingly clear that the traditional narrative may overlook a critical initial phase: problem recognition. This phase, often overshadowed by the more glamorous notion of inspiration, arguably represents the starting point of the guest journey.

NB: This is an article from Demand Calendar

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and stay up to date

It is the moment when potential guests first acknowledge a specific need or challenge that requires a solution – in this context, the need for overnight accommodation.

The Genesis of Problem Recognition

Problem recognition emerges from myriad life scenarios, each with its unique circumstances and requirements. Consider the business traveler, who must find a place to stay while attending meetings in a distant city; the music enthusiast who plans to experience a festival far from home; or the family embarking on a reunion, requiring a space that can accommodate both celebration and relaxation. In each scenario, the primary trigger for initiating the guest journey is not the dream of travel but the practical necessity of finding somewhere to stay.

This phase is characterized by a clear and actionable need: the individual recognizes that to fulfill their travel-related goal – be it work, leisure, or personal commitments – they must first solve the accommodation problem. This realization marks the beginning of their journey in the hospitality landscape.

Alignment with Consumer Behavior and Decision-Making

Problem recognition as the initial step of the guest journey aligns more closely with established theories of consumer behavior and decision-making processes. According to these theories, the decision-making process begins with recognizing a need or problem. From a psychological standpoint, this need triggers a mental process that culminates in taking action to solve the identified problem.

In travel and hospitality, acknowledging the need for accommodation prompts potential guests to enter the subsequent planning, searching, and booking stages. This perspective underscores a more pragmatic and solution-oriented approach to travel, highlighting the practical considerations that often precede the emotional and aspirational aspects of the journey.

Implications for Hospitality Providers

For hospitality providers, embracing the concept of problem recognition at the outset of the guest journey offers valuable insights into guest behavior. It encourages a focus on addressing the specific needs and circumstances that lead individuals to seek accommodation, allowing for more targeted and effective marketing strategies. Rather than solely selling an idealized travel experience, providers can position themselves as solutions to the real problems faced by their guests.

Moreover, this approach facilitates a deeper understanding of the diverse reasons behind guest travel. It enables providers to tailor their offerings more precisely to meet the varied needs of business travelers, festival-goers, families, and other guest segments. By recognizing and responding to the initial problem that sets the guest journey in motion, hospitality businesses can enhance guest satisfaction, loyalty, and success.

In rethinking the first step of the guest journey as problem recognition, we uncover a more grounded and comprehensive framework for understanding and engaging with guests. This perspective reflects a realistic view of consumer behavior and opens the door to more effective and meaningful interactions between hospitality providers and their guests.

Read the full article at Demand Calendar