Back to Blog

Understanding the digital customer journey in the hospitality industry

There is more competition in the hospitality industry than ever, especially given the vast array of emerging online booking sites and native mobile applications for hotels, travel, and holiday packages. Ensuring convenience, ease of use, and overall customer satisfaction is key to standing out in the crowd and building a loyal user base.

Whether your hospitality business is geared towards mobile, web, or both – you need the kind of insights that digital customer experience solutions can provide in order to successfully grow and retain customers.

The move to digital

The digital customer journey in the hospitality industry is unique when compared to other online products and services. Customers still expect the highest level of service available, but the only difference is that they expect this digitally.

The hospitality industry in the digital landscape is vastly different than the one of days past. Gone are the days of phoning a travel agent, looking at hardcopy brochures, and asking friends for holiday package recommendations. Now, at the click of a button, or the tap of an app, everyone has the ability to be a travel agent.

This makes the user experience for any brand that specializes in hospitality in the online world that much more important. Potential customers can quickly fact check websites, look up reviews for accommodation and airlines, and access images of certain locations quickly and easily from home or at the office. With all of the information at the click of a button, or a short search online, every business that operates in the hospitality industry needs to make sure they offer a seamless experience.

Today’s unique business challenges

The landscape is rapidly changing as new technological advances offer a wide array of booking options that can be overwhelming for potential customers to navigate, while simultaneously increasing the expectation of a personalized and streamlined experience. The rise of home-sharing sites like Airbnb have also created new challenges by providing a type of stay that conventional hospitality businesses can have difficulty matching.

Social media can amplify negative experiences and alter the perception of a business almost instantaneously – making it even more essential for any user issues to be identified and addressed promptly. At the same time, international travel is increasing worldwide, with the US becoming a top destination for tourists. There’s more opportunity than ever for companies to find success with the right digital strategy.

Understanding user hurdles

You know what your clickthrough rates are, and you know how many of your site’s visitors successfully complete a travel booking. But do you have the scoop on how and why potential customers click away from your site before completing their reservation?

Examining the digital customer journey for hospitality will make these impediments to booking clear. For example, a user may be overwhelmed by the amount of information on a page, causing them to exit the reservation process in search of a simpler booking site. Or the opposite problem can occur: a user may have a question or concern about how to use your site, without easy access to the information they need to feel confident moving forward to complete the reservation.

In the hospitality industry, it’s especially important for users to feel that they’re making a reservation through a trustworthy online business, not a scam site. It’s not enough to develop a professional brand – their experience on your website or app must be seamless, secure, and straightforward. Too many redirects or a convoluted booking process may signal to users that their information would be safer elsewhere.

And sometimes the biggest hurdle is the most simple one – a broken link, app crash, or page error that leaves potential customers at a dead end before they can complete their reservation.

Digital customer experience solutions, which includes analyses of specific customer journeys themselves, can fill in the gap by helping you unlock the root of an issue.

Building a better experience from the inside out

To understand where a new digital customer journey on your hospitality site may come to an abrupt halt, you must be able to utilize digital customer experience solutions that do more than take you behind the scenes. Your team needs insight directly into each interaction within your booking system in order to effectively resolve hospitality and travel UX issues.

Using a website session replay tool will show you exactly when and where problems occurred — from the perspective of your customers. The data collected from each customer journey can be used to show trends and highlight potential areas that have hindered a customer’s path to purchase. Every customer that clicks onto your website or app has the potential to click buy within their shopping cart. Nobody wants to lose customers to easily fixed issues, like a broken link.