Growing your hotel business and overall brand recognition can be achieved by attracting guests from all over the world.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, In 2017, U.S. Travel Exports (includes general travel spending, international passenger fares, as well as international traveler spending on medical, educational and cross-border/seasonal work-related activities) totaled $251 billion.
Additionally, based on the travel forecast projected by U.S. Travel Association, international travelers to the U.S. are set to outpace domestic travel, (both leisure and business) in the next four years.
This trend presents a huge opportunity for hoteliers to grab their market share of international travelers by tailoring the experience to those guests.
Here are some ways hotels can provide a better guest experience for international travelers.
See where international visitors are coming from
The first thing you need to do when creating a strategy to attract international customers is to see where are your website visitors coming from? By looking at the geographic locations of website visitors, you can quickly see which countries and areas are visiting your site the most and start to outline the advertising/remarketing campaigns tailored to those areas.
When looking at the analytics (whether it’s Google Analytics, Adobe or others), segment out each country that views your site and see what pages of your site they looked at the most. This will give you some ideas on what those visitors are interested in and tailor the ads around those interests.
You can also use a website heatmap tool like Hotjar to see how visitors are navigating your site and which sections are interesting to them.
For example, if visitors from Japan are viewing your spa options on your website the most, you can create a marketing campaign that highlights a special spa promotion that will entice them to click on. The key is to have one targeted message per ad so it doesn’t confuse people or get lost in the sea of other surrounding banner advertisements.
Tailor the booking experience
Enticing international travelers to book a room at your hotel requires some personalization.
A study from Common Sense Advisory showed that 72% of consumers are more likely to buy a product if they have information in their own language.
Smart hoteliers are catering their website experience to international visitors by personalizing the content based on where they are from.
Here is an example of Hilton’s website that personalizes the homepage based on the language chosen.
As you can see, Hilton does a great job at making international visitors welcome by showing relevant imagery and messaging based on the country or language selected.
During the booking process, make sure to capture important preference information such as special requests, preferred communication language and type of trip they are taking, whether it’s business or pleasure. This information will be useful for you to tailor their experience later in the journey.
Quick Tip: Make sure you are mindful of cultural details when it comes to showing personalized content to international visitors. As I have learned the hard way, it can have serious implications if done incorrectly.
While in college, I was working on a website page for my former employer and the page was targeted for Saudi Arabia. Without thinking or doing research, I put a picture of a man giving a thumbs up.
When I showed it to my boss, he FREAKED OUT!
“Do you know what the thumb up gesture means in Arabic countries?” He asked.
“No”. I replied.
“It’s the same as giving the middle finger here in the U.S.!”. He explained.
From then on, whenever I do projects that involve other counties, I always do my due diligence.
If you run into the same issue, just simply do a Google search for the country name and the word “taboo” and you will learn some new things.
Making international guests feel welcome
The language barrier can sometimes be a hindrance to the experience of international guests. Being able to effectively communicate with them is the key to making them feel welcome and catered to.
Even before the guest walks into your hotel, you should send your international guests a welcome message via email or text message. Make sure you leverage the information gathered during the booking process to confirm the preferences and requests the guest has made.
Don’t forget to include some useful information in the welcome message like directions to the hotel, activity recommendations and ways to contact you with different language options native to the guest.
Leveraging mobile & text messaging to engage international guests
One important factor in providing a great guest experience is the ability to interact with guests during their stay.
For international travelers, this means personalizing communication in their preferred language.
A college here at Zingle used to work for several resorts and hotels. When I asked him how did front desk communicate with guests that don’t speak English that well?
He told me that one of the hotels he worked for had this exact situation.
There was a focus for the hotel to cater to Japanese guests, so when Japanese guests would check-in, the front desk agent would give the guest a welcome card that was in Japanese and English. The card informed those guests that they can send a text message in Japanese or English to request service or ask questions.
The hotel he worked for also went above and beyond by offering tea kettles, treats and even rice cookers for guest that want it. Talk about a tailored experience!
Many innovative hotels are now utilizing a guest text messaging software like Zingle to provide faster and more efficient service for international guests.
The ability to instantly communicate with guests in any language is greatly beneficial for both guests and hotel staff.
For example, a guest from Mexico checks into his room and sees a sign in Spanish by the hotel phone letting him know he can send a text message for any service request.
The guest sends a text message to the hotel staff in Spanish asking for extra towels.
Hotel staff sees the text message in English and responds in English. (Zingle can automatically translate the incoming message in a foreign language into English)
Guest receives a response back in Spanish.
This simple request could have taken a lot longer if the guest had to call the front desk, potentially run into language barrier issues and misunderstanding of the request.
Due to the instant translation capability of a guest text messaging platform, hoteliers can ensure every guest feels comfortable requesting service no matter what country they are from and what language they speak.
The strategies outlined in this article can help you better cater to international travelers throughout their entire journey from booking to the actual stay. The key is to make the experience personal like the example of the website homepage content, and frictionless like using a text messaging solution that can translate conversations on the fly. These are just a couple of examples to get your ideas flowing.
If you’re a hotelier that has some tips on serving international guests, share it in the comments.
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