To truly understand why creating raving fans in the hotel industry is so important—we can refer to the classic "marketing funnel". For those unfamiliar with a marketing funnel, it is essentially describing the stages at which a guest progresses along the buyers journey.
This might start in Google by simply searching for "phuket resort". But even if it starts in Google search it will probably quickly progress to review sites like TripAdvisor.
The guest will be presented with enticing pages from TripAdvisor such as "Top 10 Phuket Resorts".
They will then hopefully discover your resort. At which point they will see your main photo on TripAdvisor (so it had better be amazing!).
Also they will be presented with your TripAdvisor rating and snippets of the last two reviews (so they had better be raving reviews!).
Assuming that all these criteria are met, the guest may click through to your main TripAdvisor page and browse other photos including guest submitted photos.
At this stage if people are at the buying stage they may either book the resort on TripAdvisor or move to their preferred hotel booking site such as Expedia or Booking.com. They are also likely to at least check out your hotel marketing website first even if they book on an OTA.
The secret to a successful and "self fulfilling" marketing funnel though is that it doesn't end when a booking is made.
The very last stage (and the most important by far) is that your guests are so delighted with the experience that they turn into raving fans! This means they are more likely to post snapshots on Instagram of their trip with comments about how good the experience was, to tell their friends, family and work colleagues about your hotel, and probably even more importantly, post a 5 star review on TripAdvisor or on Booking.com after their stay.
The days of spending your marketing budget on expensive, glossy brochures and magazine spreads are of course over for most hotels. Investing in your online presence optimisation and guest experience is a far more likely to increase revenues over the long term.
Lets face it, nothing really matters more these days than 5 star reviews on TripAdvisor. When you think about it, a four star review is just not good enough.
You must be getting five star reviews consistently to cut through and rise above your competitors. At the same time, they are attempting to do the same thing—so the bar is always being raised.
So the secret to raising revenue in the hospitality industry is pretty simple on the face of it. Ensure every single guest has an amazing experience that turns them into raving fans.
Chris Jack is the editor of Locus Focus and a professional hotel photographer based in Brisbane with over 20 years experience in digital marketing. He also hosts the weekly "Sharper Hotel Marketing" podcast.