What Are the 5 Stages of the Travel Consumer Journey?

August 12, 2020

Each vacation takes you somewhere exciting, but they all start in the same place: at home! From sitting on the couch planning a dream getaway to exploring the destination to reliving each moment on the trip back home, each stage of the travel consumer journey has an important role to play. The right marketing strategy recognizes these stages and turns dreamers into paying customers. 

If you want to learn more about how to use the travel purchase funnel as an actionable strategy for your bed and breakfast, hotel, or vacation rental company, follow our guidelines below. If you’d like additional information, don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our team. The digital-marketing experts here at Q4Launch are always available to help!

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A Guide to the Travel Consumer Journey

the dreaming phase of vacation is where you'll decide to go

Mapping the consumer journey is a critical step in designing a thoughtful marketing plan that drives traffic and bookings. Before you can drive business, you have to understand what it takes to target consumers at each phase of the travel experience. Let’s dive into the five stages of the travel consumer journey.


Whether a traveler is considering a well-deserved foray into the mountains, a relaxing retreat to the beach, or a thrilling trip into the heart of their favorite city, it all starts with a dream. Before any technical planning begins, the traveler is already thinking about where their next vacation might be! Influence and inspiration can strike at any moment and come from anywhere. That’s why getting your brand in front of your target audience is key. 

Here are a few ways that you should be targeting consumers in the “dreaming” stage of the consumer travel journey:

While these three practices seem easy to accomplish on the surface, implementing a strategy for your urban hotel, lodge, vacation rental company, or bed and breakfast is often much different in practice. Q4Launch is here to help! 


Many travelers remain in the dreaming phase for quite some time, while others may emerge from the initial stage in the travel consumer journey and set themselves on the path to purchase rather quickly. Either way, the “planning” portion of the journey must be completed. Your oh-so-important role in this phase is to be part of your future guest’s travel “micro moments.”

Travelers decide where to stay based on what will 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 insight you need to become a stepping stone for travelers that are planning their getaway. 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:

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)?


A person booking a hotel room online.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.

For Bed and Breakfasts

  • Clearly display prices
  • Use buttons to advertise/encourage 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 bed and breakfasts, but one vital difference between the two has to do with booking directly. While booking engines work well for B&Bs and inns, there has been an ongoing debate about 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 avoid these giants. Since affordability and convenience appeal to travelers, OTAs often hide additional 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 customers — bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, inns, and vacation rentals — have consistently seen an increase in transactions and total online revenue from using this messaging. We believe that you can, too!


Select RegistryWhen you’ve successfully positioned your business within the dreaming, planning, and booking stages of the travel consumer journey, the most important part of the journey—experiencing—comes 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 offerings include but are not limited to:

  • Curated 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 current, future, and repeat guests! After all, you want to be known as the expert on the area, not 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)
  • Happy guests promote your brand and become an engaged follower on social media
  • They may also become a return guest in the future, which guarantees revenue.


What you’ve provided to guests and how they experience your area will directly impact the way a guest remembers their time. Capturing guest reviews from those 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

Now that you know what it takes to follow vacationers along the travel consumer journey, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice — which is often easier said than done. Managing your hotel and your marketing strategy at the same time can feel like a balancing act. One misstep and it can all come crashing down. 

Luckily, Q4Launch has a team of expert digital-marketing strategists, designers, website developers, and professional copywriters that are trained to design and execute marketing campaigns that inspire your audience and drive ROI for your business. 

Don’t take our word for it, though. Read some of our customer success stories to get a better sense of how we create campaigns that delight customers and get results for your brand. If you’re looking to increase your average revenue per guest as quickly as possible, Q4Launch’s brand new product on our Future Proof® platform is designed to do just that. Drive revenue, get more 5-star reviews, and generate more rebookings with our Guest LifeCycle Automation

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