Your guests are the beating heart of your business! Without them, your hotel would be eerily desolate (flashbacks to the empty corridors in The Shining anyone?). This makes it vital to understand who those people are. In fact, your guest personas are so important that you need to create and solidify them before you even think about building up your digital strategy! By knowing exactly who you want to reach, where they are, and what kind of information they need to get excited about your hotel, you can very quickly generate more conversions for your property. 

So, What’s a Persona? 

Image cred: unsplash

Your guest personas are like fictional character biographies that capture key details about your audience. A lot of people mistake them for simple demographic overviews of the people they’re targeting – but, while this does help to some extent, it’s too vague on its own. In reality, if you really want to be precise, you need to dig much deeper than just age, sex, and location of your guests!

Your personas should incorporate psychographic tendencies, too. These will help you discover why your guests choose you. 

Psychographic tendencies include things like: 

  • Hobbies
  • Spending habits
  • Values
  • Challenges 
  • Struggles and fears
  • Dreams
  • Interests 

Knowing these kinds of things about your guests will help you determine what type of content truly resonates with them, so you can get busy giving them more of that! For example – if your guests’ hobbies include playing tennis, use your on-site tennis courts as a selling point. 

Top Tips For Creating Guest Personas

Now we’ve a good grasp on what a persona is, let’s dig into how you can start creating them for your hotel. 

Start Small

It’s hard to create just one persona when you have guests from all different walks of life coming through your hotel’s doors. No need to overwhelm yourself though, so start by creating 2-4 guest personas. 

Don’t Try and Represent Everyone 

You won’t be able to account for every kind of guest you have staying at your hotel – that’s unrealistic! As there’ll always be exceptions to the rule, don’t try and represent everyone. 

Remember – They’re Not Static

Personas are dynamic assets and they can change over time depending on how your hotel evolves, and what kind of guests it attracts. The key is to always keep things as relevant as possible, but also to relax, and understand that personas are fluid.

How to Create a Guest Persona

1. Collect Data

Rather than simply guessing what kind of people your different guests are, use all the data you have at your fingertips to draw a more realistic picture of them. 

Use Google Analytics to see who is coming to your website and what actions they’re taking when they get there. Tap into your booking engine data to determine what kinds of packages and rooms your guests prefer, and analyse your social media backend to see who’s following you and who interacts with your posts the most. 

Here’s our latest trends report which’ll show you the devices your direct bookers are coming from!

2. Use Reviews and Testimonials

Garnish the cold, hard data you have with more qualitative information from the likes of reviews and testimonials. 

Take into account the things that your guests comment on the most – particularly the positives – as these can be a big part of what you end up emphasising in your digital strategy! More on reviews here. 

3. List Out the Basics

It’s hard to create a persona from scratch, but with the information gleaned from your analytics and reviews, you’ll start to paint a basic picture of who your guests are. Earlier, we mentioned that you shouldn’t focus too heavily on just the demographics of your guests, but of course, it still helps to have an understanding of their age, sex, and location, as well as the more in-depth information that will help you build more thorough personas.

4. Dig Deeper

Next, it’s time to dig into the psychographic tendencies of your guests. In particular, you want to highlight any traits that relate to travel and build up an idea of their travel habits. 

Think about things like:

  • What kind of travel they prefer (do they like luxury or are they happy slumming it?)
  • Who they travel with (friends? Partner? Kids? Alone?)
  • Why they travel (do they travel to relax? To explore new places? To discover the local food?)
  • What they like to do when they travel (do they love doing active things, like hikes and watersports? What about visiting local history sites?) 

Once you have a deeper understanding of who your guests are, you can start incorporating their interests, wants, and needs into your digital strategy in order to get better results!

Incorporating Your Personas into Your Digital Strategy

1. Use Your Personas to Determine Voice

When you know exactly who you’re talking to, you can speak to those people in a way that actually resonates with them. Your hotel’s “voice” should be something that guests can easily connect with, whether it’s dripping in opulence for luxury travellers, or super casual with a few expletives thrown in for backpackers.

2. Align Your Messaging 

Just like your hotel’s voice, your guest personas can also help you align your messaging, and position your hotel correctly in the market. Think about your guests’ interests and what kind of travel they like, and use this to fuel all of your messaging. This includes the copy on your website, blog, the captions on your social media channels, and all other communications you have with your guests, from emails to chat support. 

The Hans Brinker Hostel in Amsterdam knows exactly who it’s targeting and its choice of words and messaging reflect that. 

For example, the positioning and messaging you give your hotel that’s geared towards luxury family travellers is going to be much different to that of a hostel aimed at female backpackers! Each one is targeting a completely different kind of person who enjoys wildly different ways of travelling and places different values on different parts of their experience. This should be reflected in your messaging.

Depending on who you’re talking to, your story can be told in different ways, using different mediums – read this to find out more about how to develop your brand’s voice. 

3. Hang Out Where They Hang Out 

Your digital strategy is all about reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time. But how do you know where your guests are hanging out?

It helps if you know who you’re targeting (which is where your personas come into play). It makes sense that different kinds of travellers hang out in different places online. It’s common knowledge that the youth of today are more likely to be on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, whereas older, Baby Boomer travellers can be found on Facebook. Once you know where you guests spend time online, you can start playing around with how you communicate with them on different platforms. 

In an attempt to reach a young, hip audience, W Hotels moved themselves over to Snapchat where they knew they were more likely to reach guests in that target audience. 

4. Provide a Solution to a Specific Problem 

When you have a keen understanding of your guests, you can better understand what their biggest struggles are when it comes to travelling. And remember, a digital strategy is all about overcoming guest objections and convincing them that investing in a room in your hotel is their best option! 

Having a clear set of personas means you can provide the perfect solution to their needs or travel problems and tackle any objections you think your guests might have before booking with you.

Your Personas Will Drive Your Digital Strategy

Your digital strategy is not complete without a clear set of guest personas to take inspiration from. Without them, you’ll struggle to find the right places to market your hotel and, therefore, won’t get the results you were hoping for. On the flipside, if you dig into your personas and use them to fuel all parts of your digital strategy, you’ll find deeper connections with your guests, and will end up getting far more bookings. If you need an extra hand building out your personas, take a look at this tool from Hubspot that should help! And, if you need a bit more guidance on your digital marketing in general, take a look at this.