Nowadays, the online hotel industry concepts are rapidly growing trend. The concept for instance to sleep at a strangers home, instead of staying at a actual hotel. The image of creating a home away from home gets a new perception in the world of hospitality. Currently it is trending to stay at unique locations in order to have a unique experience. Therefore customer journey mapping is changing as well. It goes beyond offering Wi-Fi or large number of international TV channels. Therefore elements should be added on the customer journey in order to keep up with the trends and future of the hotel industry.
Before adding elements to the customer journey, the theory of customer journey mapping should be clear defined. Customer journey mapping is the process of knowing what is happening to the customer every step of the way. From researching hotels to checking- in and the departure of the hotel guest is the process of customer journey mapping in the hotel industry. Knowing what is happening to the customer every step of the way and importance of identify the guests can be done by developing personas. Moreover the touchpoints of interest of each step of the journey. In this way each persona can be served by their specific needs. That’s what it is all about nowadays, getting more personal in a way where is shown that you know your guest. (Abraham, 2013)
There is a large importance in the hotel industry of cooperating with the separate departments within the hotel regarding customer journey mapping. While online hotels do not consist of departments, it is important to understand the touchpoints of the guest and provide the right service applied to this touchpoints. This can be called an innovative way of customer journey mapping due to the fact of growing online hotel industry. (Buhalis, 2014)
Airbnb can be used as an good example for innovative customer journey mapping. Airbnb’s Talent Acquisition team is ensuring that there is ‘belong anywhere’ along the customer journey. The company has designed two types of storyboards, one for the host and one for the guest. In this way personas are created in an innovative way because it is based on stories. Moreover it forces the company to think about the whole experience and it makes key stages more clear. The model above shows the key stages, but are this the key stages when finding the touchpoints of the customer? Maybe the guest is thinking at home already of there is Wifi and tries to find it on the website, but cannot be found on there. (Greenhouseblogs, 2015)
The key principles of the storyboarding follows different steps. First it is important to define critical moment that are universal. Secondly don’t let reality get in the way and the final principle is be true to the customer/ candidate, so think about what they want. So instead of thinking in how questions, first focus on what questions. (Greenhouseblogs, 2015)
The hotel industry has a far development regarding emotionally bonding, it is important to have an emotional role which pull the customer in. But how to get emotional with your customer if you don’t even see them? Online hotels have the power to emotionally connect via social media or digital channels. (Straker, 2016) ‘Developing relationships with large numbers of different customers can only be achieved if information and communication technology are used’ (Peelen, 2013)
Airbnb found out that 53 percent was not a host or a guest of the company. Recruiter communication is the most important touchpoints while this were potential users. This can be called the candidate experience and was directly impacting the company’s bottom line. (Greenhouseblogs, 2015)
It seems like a large challenge to customer journey mapping in the right way for online hotels. However, this industry has a huge advantage of the digital customer journey and mapping this in an innovative way gives the opportunity to get to know the guest more personal with the customer then ever.
Abraham. (2013). Journey Mapping Helps Organize Around Your Customers. CMS WIRE. Retrieved from; http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/journey-mapping-helps-organize-around-your-customers-020795.php
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- Peelen. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd edition),
Greenhouseblog. (2015). A symbol of belonging https://www.greenhouse.io/blog/how-airbnb-used-storyboarding-to-revamp-its-candidate-experience
- Straker. (2016). Designing an emotional strategy: Strengthening digital channel engagements. Business Horizons. Volume 59, Issue 3, , Pages 339-346
Professor D. Buhalis. (2014). on critical Technology and Marketing developments – eTourism futures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mrha2nS76Hc
Raconteur. (2015). Customer Equity: brands are still getting it wrong