What Are the 5 Stages of the Travel Consumer Journey?

July 9, 2018

Ah, vacation—it’s every hard-working employee’s favorite time of year. It’s a time to trade your typical daily routine for the ultimate state of comfort and relaxation. While this cherished time away may seem spontaneous for some, there is an intricate process behind discovering your dream destination and executing the perfect vacation. The initial desire to get away is what spurs the “travel consumer journey.” With convenience top of mind, this Google-coined term represents the process by which individuals research, discover, and book their vacations.be at every stop on the consumer travel journey with these steps

If you wish to position yourself along the travel consumer journey, Q4Launch can help. As professionals and thought leaders in the travel industry, our proven digital marketing techniques have exponentially increased revenue and maximized ROI for many of our customers. This success has been generated by effective strategies in the following fields:

  • Website design
  • Social media management
  • SEO implementation
  • Targeted pay-per-click ads
  • Engaging lead generation
  • Content marketing strategies.

Get in touch with us today via phone or our online contact form for more information on how Q4Launch may help position you firmly within the travel consumer journey! We’ll be more than happy to assist you in becoming top-of-mind for your target traveler demographic.

A Guide to the Travel Consumer Journey

Within the hospitality industry, search trends ebb and flow each year. However, being your traveler’s and Google’s top choice remains important. There is often confusion surrounding these two important positions, and it can be difficult to know which to prioritize. Why not assume both roles? While the travel consumer journey seems complex on the surface, it all boils down to one common denominator: Targeting. Below, we’ve compiled the five stages of a user’s process. Knowing these and applying them to your brand ensures a targeted solution for cornering your desired demographic!

1. Dreaming

the dreaming phase of vacation is where you'll decide to go Whether a user is considering a well-deserved foray into the mountains, a relaxing retreat to the beach, or an exciting adventure in the heart of a bustling city, the desired destination is first to appear in a traveler’s mind. Before any technical planning begins, the traveler is already dreaming of where their next vacation might be! How did these individuals dream up these images and conceptualize these experiences? From experiential travel copy to gorgeous images of a particular area, we experience information overload every day. Sifting through hundreds of others’ experiences make it difficult for many to resist this sort of dreaming. We’re here to let you know that there are many ways to bridge the gap between you and your dreaming traveler! The best way to effectively include your business in the dream phase includes:

While these three practices seem easy to accomplish on the surface, you must implement a strategy for your urban hotel, lodge, vacation rental company, or bed and breakfast!

2. Planning

While many people remain in the dreaming phase for a while, many emerge from this initial section of the travel consumer journey and set themselves on the path to purchase. Before this occurs, many aspects of the planning phase must be completed first. Your important role in this phase is to be part of your future guest’s travel “micro moments.”

During this phase, the traveler decides where to stay based upon what will best maximize their experience at their chosen destination. Many will fall back on Google Travel or generic attraction-based platforms while searching for their best options. With so many large corporations seemingly owning the travel space, it may appear impossible for your brand to become recognized online. However, this way of thinking will only hinder your impact in the travel space! These convenient options offer a glimpse into a traveler’s thought process and provide the tools you need to become part of the planning phase. As locals, you occupy a completely unique space in the travel industry. This will be the key to success for your brand as you implement the following strategies.

Targeting these individuals who wish to engage in locally catered, experiential travel may seem difficult at first. With these proven successful tactics and internet hospitality marketing expertise at your side, the seemingly impossible will be within reach:

All of these elements embody the same fundamental value: Convenience. When the copy on a website has adequately provided the “best answer” for search engines, it satisfies the algorithm and becomes a result on the first page. Thus, providing a two-fold strategy for success implies to the user that you are, in fact, the best overall answer. After all, if you aren’t listed on Page 1 of Google, is your business reaching the heights that it can (and should)?

3. Booking

As consumer travel trends have shown time and time again, simplifying the user’s booking process should be your highest priority. Many modern users would rather choose to put their credit card information online than speak with someone over the phone. As this trend continues, it’s imperative to take advantage of it by implementing an easy booking process. What exactly does that entail? Keep reading to find out. making a payment online

For Bed and Breakfasts

  • Have prices clearly displayed
  • Use buttons to advertise bookings
  • Use an intuitive reservation software such as ThinkReservations or ResNexus
  • Add any discounts, coupon codes, and add-ons into your system
  • Send a confirmation email to each guest.

For Vacation Rental Companies

It’s imperative to exercise transparency when it comes to pricing, amenities, guest experiences, and confirmation emails. These requirements are similar to those of vacation rental companies, but one vital difference between the two has to do with booking directly. While booking engines work well for bed and breakfasts and inns, there has been an ongoing debate over this for vacation rental companies. Online travel agencies and their ability to advertise the lowest price guarantee have complicated matters, but there are ways to evade these giants. Since affordability and convenience appeal to travelers, OTAs often have hidden fees. The best way for your vacation rental business to capitalize on this market is to advertise just that on your site. Use phrasing like:

  • “Book direct for the lowest price”
  • “Lowest price guaranteed when booking directly”
  • “Best rate when booking direct.”

Many of our Q4Launch customersbed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, inns, and vacation rentalshave consistently seen an increase in transactions and total online revenue from using this messaging. We believe that you can, too!

4. Experiencing

When you’ve successfully positioned your business within the dreaming, planning, and booking stages of the travel consumer journey, the most important part of the journeyexperiencingcomes into play. Guests travel to your area (and your property) to experience it as a local would. One of the best ways to supplement their experience is to provide something tangible and memorable. These include but are not limited to: Select Registry

  • Catered itineraries
  • A travel guide full of your local recommendations.

This stage is the time when you may positively influence someone’s time in your area. It’s important that your property is top of mind for future, current, and repeat guests! After all, you want to be the source of someone’s wonderful time in your areanot search engines or cookie-cutter online databases.

What Comes of a Guest’s Positive Experience with You?

  • A positive reputation on Google, TripAdvisor, and Facebook (and other review platforms)
  • They become a promoter of your brand and an engaged follower on social media
  • They may become a return guest in the future, which guarantees revenue.

5. Remembering

What you’ve provided to guests and how they experience your area will directly impact the way a guest remembers their time. Capturing guests who have had an overwhelmingly positive experience is key to maintaining both a 5-star presence online and a successful business. Additionally, their positive time on the property and with your business influences their next getaway! However, it’s imperative you create some form of re-engagement to further keep them involved in your brand.

How To Help Guests Remember You

Trust Q4Launch: Your Travel Destination Experts

While the travel consumer journey maintains a certain complexity, our dedicated team members navigate these five stages daily. We are industry experts in the following areas:

  • Lead generation
  • Website design
  • Email marketing
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing.

These are just a few spaces where we excel above and beyond other companies in the travel and hospitality space! If you’re invested in the travel consumer journey or wish to better yourself in the minds of online users at any stage, fill out our complimentary Marketing Grader Report. This free assessment will be completed by one of our team members and will highlight any areas where you need to improve by guiding you through a Google Analytics analysis. Let’s get started on revolutionizing your business together today!


Ben Ollic | Customer Experience Manager
Learn More About Me and Q4Launch on LinkedIn!