INDIANAPOLIS—The digital landscape has changed how word-of-mouth marketing occurs, with many of the conversations among customers and potential customers happening on social media platforms. What they’re saying and whom they’re saying it to is paramount for businesses to understand in order to gain an edge against competitors. So, what exactly do travelers want? That’s the million-dollar question for the hotel industry, and through the use of listening tools, global audience insights firm Fizziology believes it has a few answers.
“We gather unsolicited opinions from social media in the U.S., as well as 13 international markets, to understand who is talking about a brand, what they’re saying, and how that compares to competition. We basically treat social media as the world’s largest focus group,” said Jen Handley, co-creator and co-president of Fizziology. “We use these insights to advise our clients on anything from marketing strategies to audience targeting, to help them navigate through crises. Our clients include most of the major film studios, television networks and producers and talent, and leading travel/tourism and retail brands.”
Fizziology collects data and then digests it for hoteliers by gathering the feeds about hotel brands and the travel industry from social platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, among others—and then pulls the information into Centrifuge, an internal analytics system.
“Our analysts actually read and score these feeds for sentiment and code them for key themes. They analyze the conversation and compare it to the same brand historically and to competitors so we can always contextualize our insights,” said Handley. “We also analyze macro and micro trends in the industry, and understand what key audiences—foodies, young mothers, health enthusiasts, for example—are driving those trends.”
Let’s go back to that burning question: What do travelers want? People often want different things, but Handley points out three “wants,” in particular, that hit a broad audience: wellness-focused options, the conveniences of home, and hotel amenities that reflect the brand.
Wellness travel is growing faster than traditional travel as today’s travelers recognize the need to recharge and, in turn, guests are looking for lodging that echoes their wellness-focused vacation goals, noted Handley.
“An increased number of hotels are now offering cooking classes to help create lasting memories for guests. This unique experience provides hotel guests with the opportunity to learn to cook local specialties from a native chef, allowing travelers to recreate these meals at home and provide continued experiences from their vacation,” she said. “Going past the kitchens, health-conscious guests are looking for ways to better understand their food source. Various hotels are now focusing on creating hotel landscapes that feature edible, ornamental gardens and vineyards. On-property produce allows guests to handpick fruit from their balcony to enjoy immediately or know portions of their meal were produced on-property, all of which provides guests with a true farm-to-table experience.”
Comforts of home
Travelers aren’t seeking traditional comfort-focused conveniences. Instead, they want conveniences that were previously only thought to exist at home, echoing the larger hygge trend, explained Handley. Pronounced hoo-gah, hygge is the Danish term for creating cozy surroundings and a feeling of contentment from life’s simple pleasures.
“Similar to various Airbnb offerings, hotels can evolve their rooms by providing comfortable, laptop-friendly lounge spaces instead of traditional desks and intimate lighting that can be adjusted by guests, as well as space or music/video offerings for in-room meditation. Today’s guests are no longer content with a single premium channel and instead prefer to continue watching the content they enjoy most at home. In addition to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, hotels could consider options such as wellness book rentals and in-room meditation or yoga videos that could be accessible to guests for download,” she said. “With a rise in the sober scene, traditional minibar staples of the past could be replaced with upscale tea options and non-food amenities, such as essential oils, hydrating facial masks, cabin socks and upgraded robes.”
All about that brand
As Handley noted, hotel amenities do matter and guests are looking for products and features that reflect the brand as well as next-level offerings that set the hotel apart.
“If the hotel has a focus on wellness, the resort should carry that over into its amenities by offering items that reflect both mental and physical wellness and cure some of the key problems we face when traveling, she said. “For example, a selection of essential oils, face masks to rehydrate after flying, fair-trade toiletries and a health-conscious minibar that provides options for various dietary restrictions. And, making it local is always a plus.”