Using Search Behavior Cues to Effectively Market to Specific Customer Segments


Melody Ciria

Sep 24, 2018


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In the hospitality industry today, consumers have grown to expect a more personalized and custom-tailored experience from hotels. With the many advancements in technology introduced into the hotel industry, consumers have higher expectations in the level of customer service and hospitality they receive as a guest. While access to ‘big data’ has allowed hotel marketers to understand their guests better, most hotels still fail to give guests what they want and need. The problem with many hotels is their lack of focused marketing, particularly in developing a targeted guest marketing strategy. Many hotels are guilty of looking at their guests too generally, and they put all guests into the same category when in reality many characteristics differentiate each traveler’s persona.‍

Hoteliers need to make better use of ‘big data’ to identify what travel consumers expect, want and need from their experience with your hotel. Big data can be obtained from analytical reports based off of demographics and search behaviors. Marketers need to make it a habit of getting into the minds of consumers by looking into the search behavior cues of each customer segment. Identifying these search behavior cues helps you, as the hotelier, understand what would motivate and encourage a potential guest to stay at your hotel. Once you gather that information and create a customer profile, you will begin to form a more powerful message and deliver a more customized experience for the guest based on his/her attributes. I have outlined a few trends in search behavior cues of each customer segment that will help you market effectively to your specific target audience and help you deliver a more personalized experience for each of your guests.


With millennials becoming such a large segment of the travel industry, it is critical that hotels learn to adapt to their search behaviors. Millennials tend to be very experimental and adventurous when it comes to choosing which hotel to stay at. Most millennials haven’t yet stayed loyal to a particular hotel brand, so many of them are not afraid to explore new places. Since millennials are such savvy shoppers, they have high technological expectations and consider convenience and flexibility a top priority. Usability experience is also significant to them since they expect instant results when using mobile devices and tablets. Looking for the best rates is also a common characteristic among millennials. However, if you establish enough value, millennials would be willing to pay more to stay at your hotel. To create value, provide millennials with original features that would likely get their attention using social media. For instance, display a big screen T.V. in the lobby that shows a stream of Instagram photos of guests in real-time enjoying the local culture in and around your hotel. This simple addition would excite other guests and encourage them to share their experiences as well.

Family Vacationers

When it comes to planning a family trip, hotel specials and packages, as well as specific amenities, become important factors to consider when deciding which hotel to stay at. To target family vacationers, offer a family fun package that includes free breakfast and admission to a theme park, local fair, or museum. This family fun package would add more value to their hotel stay. If your hotel has big, spacious rooms, then be sure to highlight that on your website and social media channels. Keep in mind that convenience is also very highly regarded among family vacationers. That said, if your hotel has a shuttle service that navigates around the city, then make that clear on your website. Families, above all, will appreciate this service, as it helps alleviate the hassle of driving. To make a family’s stay even more personalized, then you may want to consider sending a pre-arrival email that would recommend family-friendly activities to do and events happening around the area during their stay. This kind of information would be especially useful for families who may not have planned out their entire trip. As a hotelier, it is crucial to understand that customer service goes far beyond checking people into their rooms. It is about providing an unforgettable experience for the guest and giving them the convenience they seek when traveling.‍

Business Travelers

To satisfy the business traveler, a hotel needs to accomplish these two things: comfort and flexibility. Hotels need to enable business travelers to quickly get to where they need to be and provide amenities that help them accomplish work-related needs. For instance, offering free WiFi is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. Business travelers expect WiFi to be free, easily accessible and fast. If your hotel has a business center, meeting space, or/and transportation services, then make this apparent on your website, so that the guest is put to ease as soon as he/she arrives at the hotel. As a friendly reminder, send a pre-arrival email that notifies the guest about your business center, printing stations, transportation services or/and meeting spaces. Don’t forget to include details in your amenities page that a business traveler would likely want to know about, like having plenty of outlet stations in the room. Take the time to address all the needs you can provide to the guest, and the guest will likely reciprocate by wanting to stay at your hotel. Accommodating your guest to the best of your ability will improve guest satisfaction and boost conversions.

Investing time to get to know the search behavior cues of each customer segment can make a difference in your hotel’s ability to market effectively. The more you understand what matters to a guest, the more impactful your messaging will be. Keep your messaging relevant and don’t lose sight of what matters to each guest. All three of these customer segments share a general expectation from hotels, which is to receive a higher level of customized service. That said, hotels who strive to bring that kind of customized level of service will see not only the benefits of increased customer loyalty but also an increase in conversions.

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