Our natural instinct is to steer away from anything we don’t understand, right? Human psychology is not something that often crops up in courses about hotel marketing, but that is why those courses fail to sustainably elevate your messaging and fall short in helping you achieve your goal of truly connecting with your target audiences.
Post-pandemic, one of the buzz words of the hospitality industry is “humanisation”. But how can we expect to humanise the industry when we don’t understand the psychological influences and triggers that lie behind all buying decisions?
What I am about to share with you is something you won’t find in the teachings of most hotel brand marketing specialists. My wish for you is to open up a magical and curious space in which you can store, let percolate, and absorb this information until its relevance and significance for truly effective hotel marketing seep into your consciousness and trigger the desire to learn more.
After all, "People do not buy goods and services, they buy relations, stories and magic". Seth Godin
So, here we go with the 7 facts that influence whether your hotel messaging succeeds or fails:
1. The Rule of 7 (aka Familiarity)
One of the oldest principles (which means it has stayed relevant over time!), is the fact that it takes on average seven exposures to your marketing messages before a target customer would make a purchase.
The more we see something the more we *feel* it, or we totally reject it and block the ads on our social media platforms. Even if the latter is the reaction your messaging provokes, this is good! Who wants to try to sell to someone who doesn’t resonate with your message?
Staying consistent is one of the biggest concerns I hear from hotel owners. Some days are filled with motivation to create posts and blogs that flow effortlessly, which other days feel mechanical, like you are wading through a world of wet content concrete.
Working to a plan and a structure that leverages your innate strengths and brand advantages is the key to consistency and success.
Right, I know. I just said familiarity is a primary psychological trigger, but so is being different. Work at building consistent blocks that generate familiarity but spice things up with a seasonal promotion that is unexpected yet still meets the needs of your target audience.
3. Purpose and Values
Whether we are aware of them or not, we all have a set of intrinsic values - a set of core beliefs that are important to us. I have loved the journey to define mine. It took a couple of iterations until they felt in sync with who I am and what I want to share with the world, but here are my top 5:
They now help define how I talk about my business, and I can feel the immediate alignment when one of them shines through in an intentional, but also authentic way.
This is not just about attractive logos and photos showing the best views from your property. Here I am talking about symbolism.
What does this image conjure up for you?
The feeling of care, kindness to the planet, symbiosis, goodness and a desire to build a better future, right?
No words necessary. Just the logo has become enough to connect the symbol to the brand name.
This is powerful stuff. And yes, you are not Nike, but you are unique, and you can leverage universal symbols to visually express your own values and business ethos.
5. Emotional triggers
Working on a completely subconscious level, these triggers are responsible for 60-95% of all buying decisions. This is huge! They generate emotional reactions that are prompted by empathy, reciprocation, scarcity, authority, authenticity, and social alignment.
Each one is the topic of an individual blog, so I won’t go into more detail here but working to create a balance of the strongest ones will have an immediate, positive effect on your sales.
Everyone wants to feel a part of something, whether conscious or not. There is SO much money in your own back yard. I used to manage a luxury lakeside lodge in southern Chile with outstanding lake views, unique Bauhaus architecture, effortless elegance, and a royal legacy from the late Queen Elisabeth II’s stay in 1968. All of this made marketing to the international operators and clients super easy. Marketing to the local crowd was harder yet the potential for (and the income from) repeat visits, regular business events, and family celebrations made the effort worthwhile.
7. Emotional connection
“Have a break, have a ______________?”
I bet that almost all of you subconsciously completed that phrase without thinking. It is golden, classic, and hugely effective marketing and has stood the test of time for decades. Just like in the Nike example, I know you are not a global brand, but it is easier than you think to generate brand “stickiness” when you understand what your audience needs, what their worries are, and how you can meet them where they are.
Just that last sentence is SO powerful. Read it again.
How can you meet your target audience(s) where they are?
Answering that question alone will unleash powerful ways to connect on an emotional level.
For hotels, the biggest challenge is that location will always come first, right? If you want to go to Paris, you don’t google “Hotels in London”. But once that primary need has been met, it becomes a free for all to catch the fish (aka the browsing potential customer).
Why not elevate your chances by leaning into your secret weapon of understanding your target audience so well that they feel like you *get* them just by visiting your homepage?
So, there we go with the 7 most influential psychological factors that help you to sell without really “selling”.
I invite you to get started on this journey by taking my Hotel Brand Personality Quiz that will reveal your brand identity and intrinsic strengths to help define how you talk about and market your property with confidence.
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