The travel buying cycle. Stage #5: Sharing

The final of the 5 stages of travel is Sharing, which is very closely linked to Experiencing. In addition to sending postcards and texts to loved ones, people are increasingly posting pictures and status updates to social media whilst they are still on holiday.

How to succeed at sharing

Your input counts; it is important that you get involved during this stage as your interaction creates an impression of the service you provide. It shows you care. It provides the perfect opportunity to communicate with your guests past and present, taking the cycle full circle. What is shared now influences future guests who are at the Dreaming stage. A few tips to help you join in with your guests during the Sharing stage:

1. Provide the tools to share

  • If you don’t have an online social presence, try setting up a Facebook page to start with. As well as providing a platform to share tips, recommendations and photos, you will be able to take bookings on your Facebook page (using the SuperControl Facebook app). It’s especially important to make the most of social media during the sharing stage – have a look at our Social Networking and Online Marketing Tools for Self-Caterers eBook.
  • Leaving a Guest Book in your property encourages guests to write comments before they leave. People enjoy reading what other people have to say. Whilst the guest book will not physically be seen until the next guest reaches the Experiencing stage, with the authors permission you can speed things up. Copy comments on to your Facebook page, use them in newsletters and on your website, include quotes from happy guests in your blog posts etc.
  • You can then quote their guestbook comment in the feedback questionnaire you send them soon after their departure date. This flow of communication prolongs your relationship and enables your guest to share honest opinions about what you are doing well, and what could be improved. You also get the chance to respond quickly, and share good feedback* on your social media.
  • Ask your guests to write a review of your accommodation. You can provide a link to your review listing on the feedback questionnaire to make it easier.
  • Provide links to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Review site listings etc. to your email signature, feedback questionnaire and on e-newsletters. It’s helpful to tell your guests what the benefits of staying in touch are – what’s in it for them? Do you promote special offers on your social media platforms? Provide local news and events info by email? Link up with local businesses to offer package ideas or coupon codes? Post updates about property renovation projects or new members of staff? Do you host ‘best photo competitions’ on Facebook?
  • Be relevant and interact so when your guests do find you online, they want to keep returning to see what is happening. Give people a reason to want to stay in touch and share their experience on platforms that benefit you.

2. Join in with the sharing

  • Set up Google alerts to receive notifications when your self-catering accommodation is mentioned online. That way, you will be aware of what is being said and shared, and be able to join in conversations that are about your property.
  • Use a social media monitor such as Tweetdeck or HootSuite to monitor Twitter and Facebook for keywords and #hashtags. E.g. your property or business name, your location, your own name, your Twitter ID.
  • Join in conversations. Look out for tweets like ‘Had a fantastic meal at the XYZ bistro in #Oxford‘ if you’ve got a cottage close to the bistro, tweet back how much your guests enjoyed it there too providing a link to guests comments on your website, or your listing on a reviews site. This is equally important if someone tweets that they had a bad experience at an establishment you recommend, again you can tweet back that this feedback is really useful as you can update your website (with a link to e.g the local information page on your website). Follow local news on Facebook, when a new restaurant opens in town or a nearby nature reserve receives funding, share the post. It is important that your social media is not used just as a sales tool. Make it interesting, share information about your local area or industry facts, ask questions. It’s even OK to be funny sometimes. To reach people during the sharing stage you’ve got to be real. People want to interact and share with other people, not a business or a building. This is a conversation – it’s word-of-mouth marketing super-sized.

Identifying the five stages of travel as identified by Google enables you to target your marketing messages to reach guests at every step of the way. In working to establish awareness of your holiday property whether people are in the process of Dreaming, Planning, Booking, Experiencing or Sharing you will maximise the chances of being seen and remembered throughout.

*N.b: Please make sure you have permission from your guests before publishing any quotes.