The Search Funnel in Your Distribution Strategy
It’s important that we start to work on our establishment’s marketing and sales strategies as if looking at elaborate life processes, or links, between the hotel and the client.
Travelers follow, in the vast majority of cases, different stages associated with the hotel’s value proposition and are stimulated or impacted by certain inputs that accelerate or reduce the complexity of the decision making on where to travel, what type of accommodation, the transport to use or what the activities to be carried out at the destination will be. In these decision-making processes, based on the purchase of the trip, this is where the search funnels enter the process and illustrate how the hotel is able to influence this process naturally.
At BEONx we found it interesting to analyze how the hotel can identify these stages in order to influence, from product and content perspectives how those processes function without the traveller feeling conditioned or forced to be part of a uni-directional process. A search funnel is proposed to “interfere”, through a point of view of added value, on a client that seeks to satisfy a need. From this concept, the hotel must adapt its approach to enhance, as far as possible, its impact on the market. Surely you have some doubts, so we encourage you to delve into the ideas involved in a search funnel and how they can help you improve the distribution of your hotel:
What do we mean by funnel search?
The travel search funnel is a visual guide of consumer behavior during the examination of an ad that finalizes in the hotel’s conversion-distribution actions. Once we define the funnel it will be easier to place the traveler in certain stages in terms of need or according to traveler type that can be found in the funnel. For example, a traveler looking for “Hotel in Madrid” will be less frequently identified in the search funnel than a traveler who performs the search “Hotels in Madrid for pets”, as long as our product is adapted to the the clients’ needs or requirements.
Consumer behavior inside the search funnel
Consumer behavior is defined in a specific way in each of the stages of the funnel. In general terms, the trip begins in the mind of consumers at the same moment that they think about visiting a place and starts to investigate options around them. In this way, the entire process includes preliminary searches on the place or on the activities to be carried out and continues until reaching the conversion in the flight reservation or, in our case, in hotel reservation.
To simplify the process (it could be adapted to each hotel type) we have divided the funnel into three categories: knowledge, consideration and intention. For each stage, we will identify what actions travelers are taking and the impact that this should have on their search marketing strategy.
1) The awareness phase
Sitting on the top of the funnel, the phase of awareness or awareness refers to people who are not very sure of what they still want. This group is the typical window buyer: the potential user of this stage carries out some research without needing to have a clear idea of what he wants. The commercialization in this stage of the funnel allows reaching a very broad audience, but without any clear objective of success. At this stage the hotel needs positioning on keywords of a broad match.
Mediante el uso de este enfoque, y combinándolo con una oferta o descuento especial, existe la posibilidad de “arrastrar” a esa visita en la web a etapas más orientadas a la venta de nuestro producto.
2) The consideration phase
As they move toward a purchase decision, travelers at this stage are beginning to weigh their options more seriously. At this point, they have decided on factors as important as their travel destination and the type of hotel they are looking for. The keywords they are using now are much more specific as their options narrow downward through the funnel. In the search terms on which we position ourselves we can include facilities or highlights about the location. Factors such as price or differentiators in the description as the term “luxury” also provide interesting information to add to the traveler profile that adapts to our product.
3) The intent phase
This is the phase is most closely oriented to the sale. The potential client knows that our hotel exists and, quite possibly, has been able to cross-relate it with his need. Commercialization at this lower end of the funnel represents the most efficient way to capture bookings through knowledge about the people to whom the strategy is oriented. There is a strong degree of purchase intent. Although the volume of clients that will be arriving will be lower, an increase in conversion rates can be expected. The search terms at this time involve keywords with a strong level of commercial intent. As an example, a branding campaign you can increase the chances of capturing a reservation by creating customized re-marketing ads. The objective should be raised around the competitiveness of our accommodation and the possibility of taking a reservation fee through intermediation portals such as OTAs.
Once we have identified the different parts of the search funnel, and as we work each of the stages, we will be more interesting for a client that conditions their decision making to the search results. At BEONx we encourage you to propose a strategy to capture traffic on needs and on the proposal of the value proposal of the traveler, a way to gain online presence in a natural way and promote direct bookings.