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The 12 guest types and top tips on how to meet and exceed their expectations
by Geofferey Pagel
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No matter what type of hotel you have or even where your hotel is, chances are you've met a wide variety of hotel guests with an even wider range of wants and needs that can be a challenge to manage effectively.
Catering to the needs of different types of hotel guests doesn't have to be complicated — as long as you base your decisions on guest behaviour trends and statistical data.
Below we define the 12 types of hotel guests and give you top tips about how you can provide them with the best possible experience based on simple market analyses and accessible hotel industry data.
In other words: How to identify your guest’s key personas, create tailor-made offerings based on their different and distinct needs, and as a result, have happier guests who see a larger perceived value to your offering and in turn, don’t mind spending that little bit more for it.
1. Family Travelers
Large groups of intergenerational travellers often like to spend time in child-friendly locations (such as vacation rentals or independent hotels) and typically come prepared with a strict schedule and budget for logistical purposes.
Make their stay a smooth one by ensuring they have access to large amounts of information specifically regarding; kid-friendly attractions, restaurants, and even babysitting services, to ensure that every family member can have an enjoyable and relaxing vacation.
- Have multiple family-friendly activity suggestions with all necessary information on hand
- Offer activities that provide maximum value for money (families travel on tight budgets)
- Highlight how child-safe your property is as often as possible
According to the last Consumer Family Travel Survey by Access Development, 77% of families said the most important factor in deciding on their holiday is getting the best value for their budget.
2. Affluent Travelers
Affluent travellers (also known as luxury travellers) value high-quality service, comfort, and unforgettable experiences. 44% of these guests are between 49-67 years of age, 82% are married, and all of them are looking for top-class, exceptional stays in luxurious venues.
If you can provide affluent travellers with five-star service and connect them with unforgettable experiences, they'll gladly pay top dollar.
- Personalization. Make sure you go above and beyond to find out what these guests expect, what they like, and what their favourite drinks and food are. Then provide them with it
- Tours and experiences need to be customized to their specific needs and, preferably, private
- Wow, factor! Give them a true, one-of-a-kind experience that they can share with family and friends
According to Conell University and the IpsosConnect Affluent Traveler Segmentation White Paper, luxury consumers are moving away from spending on things and are moving more and more towards spending on experiences, with the hospitality industry benefiting greatly from this trend.
Voluntours make giving back to the community an essential part of their travel, allowing them to experience local cultures while also making a difference.
A voluntourism trip is about community service, so most of these types of travellers are less focused on amenities and luxury and more focused on immersing themselves in the local culture.
- Promote community projects to guests and encourage them to get out into the local community and support them
- Some hotels and hostels offer cut-price guest rooms during low occupancy periods for volunteers who are working on local projects
- Create sustainable projects that truly offer benefit to both the guests undertaking the experience and the environment
“Vacations, where tourists are able to learn a new skill or participate in meaningful projects, constitute one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors in the world,” says Ashleigh Dunn, Hospitality Manager for Thanda Safari.
4. Wellness Seekers
Wellness seekers often travel alone en route to activities such as yoga retreats or fitness classes. Because these types of travellers are focused on improving their mental and physical well-being, they prioritize amenities such as healthy food and the ability to exercise.
Providing access to a workout centre is just as important as offering guests a quiet place to reflect or giving guidance about the best ways they can achieve their wellness goals during their stay.
- Offer wellness seekers activities such as yoga, spa treatments, fitness classes, outdoor hikes, and therapy sessions
- Health-conscious menu options and/or suggestions are vital to wellness travellers. Healthy menu choices include options such as vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as fruit platters and smoothies
- Have recommendations for local farmers’ markets, health shops, and yoga centres readily available
According to the Global Wellness Institute, “wellness” is a USD$3.72 trillion global industry encompassing preventative and personalized medicine, beauty, anti-ageing, healthy eating, nutrition, weight loss, spas, fitness, mind and body, workplace wellness, and much more.
5. Boomer Travelers
Retired Boomers often travel without children but with a large budget, and they typically prefer accessible spaces and tours that give them exposure to popular tourist spots.
Because Boomers value comfort and accessibility, you can get results by putting in a little extra work to impress them by printing out maps and information and providing recommendations for comfortable local tours. With Boomers increasingly turning to travel as they retire, knowing what Boomers value and how to deliver it is the key to capturing this market.
- Provide printed materials, maps, brochures, guides, etc.
- Maximize the accessibility of your property and tours
- Make recommendations that are not strenuous. i.e. walking tours, bus tours, cooking and craft activities
According to a Boomer Travel Trends report by AARP Boomers continue to be avid travellers, planning to take a total of 4-5 leisure trips, on which they will spend over USD$6,600 on average.
6. LGBT Travelers
The LGBT travel market’s annual spend now exceeds USD$218 billion, and with the gradual removal of anti-gay laws in more and more countries, this market is expected to keep growing year on year.
As an accommodation provider, demonstrating that you are gay-friendly and have a good reputation in the international lesbian, gay and bisexual community is key to attracting more LGBT guests.
- Align your business with other LGBT-friendly businesses nearby to improve your products, services, and reputation
- Encourage LGBT guests to write reviews or stories about your property. LGBT tourists prioritize reviews and recommendations by other members of the LGBT community
- Have a marketing presence throughout the year, not only in high season
- Go visit an LGBT event or festival near you to get to know potential guests and promote your business
All destinations surveyed by the World Tourism Organization emphasized that the tourism sector as a whole benefits when a destination is regarded as being open, tolerant, and welcoming to all visitors.
7. Business Travelers
Business travellers may have tight schedules and value efficiency above all else — but they also have strong brand loyalty and want to enjoy the area in which they're staying.
Win over busy business travellers by offering plenty of amenities, such as fast Wi-Fi, spare cables, charges, and laundry options, as well as by providing recommendations for good restaurants and nightlife. If you can provide business travellers with a top-notch experience, they will likely ensure that they and their colleagues return.
- Focus on efficiency, the more services you can offer them via an app, like Planet’s App, the better. E.g. Mobile check-in and check-out, room service, direct bookings, etc.
- Make restaurant suggestions that offer great food and have friendly staff. A professional atmosphere during the day and a more vibey atmosphere at night is also preferable
- Offer private meeting rooms for confidential or private meetings as well as a hotel room with a pleasant working space
According to the Global Business Travel Association, annual business travel costs are expected to amount to USD$1.7 trillion by 2022, and almost 10% of all business trips can be categorized as “bleisure” trips.
Vacationers typically save quite a bit of money throughout the year and only travel once or twice per year depending on how much leave they have. They also do a lot of research and have a very clear plan about what they want to do and see.
It is very rare for vacationers to travel solo, and most often they travel with friends and family. Ideally, vacationers want a balance between site-seeing and downtime. Helping them to achieve this balance is the sweet spot hoteliers need to hit.
- Provide expert insider tips (meals, sights, tours, crafts, etc.) that aren’t easily found on the internet
- Talk to them and make suggestions about how to save money, reduce travel time and optimize their sightseeing and leisure time
- Their focus is on experiences. Suggest tour guides that you know as a fact provide top-quality experiences for guests
In a report drawn up by BuildUp Bookings, they found that 68% of vacationers turn to the internet for their travel information. An up-to-date website with a modern Online Booking Engine should be the top priority for accommodation providers.
Known for their adventurous attitudes and price-sensitive sensibilities, backpackers like to travel to multiple different locations within a given year, where they try to experience local life.
Give backpackers the stability they need (i.e. a safe place to store their bags) coupled with the adventure they crave. Provide recommendations for adventurous activities and once-in-a-lifetime experiences and they'll happily sing your praises to their fellow backpackers.
- Backpackers usually travel solo so suggest tours and activities that will allow them to meet up with like-minded and similarly aged travellers
- Create a party atmosphere and earn a reputation of being young and hip
- Recommend authentic, local activities that will create unique experiences that backpackers can “brag” about to their friends
According to Cox & Kings, Solo travel is the second-most popular category for post-lockdown trips and is likely to be among the first segments to come back as the touring sector starts to recover.
10. Gen Z Travelers
Whether they're recent graduates, students on holiday, or young people enjoying a gap year, Gen Z travellers are a rapidly growing generation of travellers who value certain amenities. E.g. Fast, reliable Wi-Fi, charging stations and areas where they can socialize. They are also very budget-conscious but will pay extra for local and sustainable produce.
Because Gen Z travellers value social connectivity, they'll appreciate it if your accommodation has a strong social media presence — and, because they're newer to travelling, they'll also appreciate any tips or tricks you can offer them about travelling in the area.
- Provide locally produced food and drinks
- Have cultural activities available to them
- Provide information or activities whereby they can learn about traditions, culture, and heritage
In a study published by the European Travel Commission (ETC), they found that trying locally produced food and drinks is Gen Z’s top priority (75%) followed by discovering the local urban culture (67%) and then doing cultural activities, such as visiting museums and concerts (62%).
11. Digital Nomads
Highly mobile digital nomads don't work in a physical office space. Instead, they telecommute and work remotely from all over the world so they can experience life in a variety of locations.
Impressing a digital nomad requires investing in high-speed Wi-Fi and making sure they feel connected to other travelers and locals: anything you can do to make them feel at home and connected is likely to impress them.
- Create a space at your hotel that is a mixture of business and leisure, a place where travelers can hang out, have a drink or a snack and also get some work done, busy but not overly noisy
- Wi-Fi and multiple charging ports are a must-have
- Keep an easy-to-access list of places where travelers and local business people like to hang out
The remote workforce has increased by 140% since 2005, according to Global Workplace Analytics.
12. Green Travelers
With the rise of climate change, eco-friendly travellers are becoming increasingly common. Sustainable, environmentally friendly practices are a major draw to these travellers, as is a serious commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.
Travel Agent Central reported that 87% of travellers want to give back! 45% volunteer for activities and 25% are interested in activities that span for one or two days and directly involve giving back to the local communities.
To attract and impress green travellers, environmental policies must be meaningful and not simply self-serving — but if you do the work to make your accommodation truly environmentally friendly, you'll be able to really please not just green travellers but almost all of your guests.
- Eco-friendly accommodation (i.e. Minimum impact on the natural environment, conscious decision to reduce energy usage, and the use of green energy)
- Do not “greenwash” (pretending to be green/eco-friendly)
- It is best to use locally sourced, natural, and sustainable products throughout the hotel
66% of consumers worldwide say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, reports Dr Kelly S. Bricker from the International Ecotourism Society.
Hoteliers that know what their guests want and what they expect need to work to customize guest experiences to create loyalty and repeat business.
Listen to your guest’s feedback and provide sound recommendations, even if you sometimes have to direct your guest to other trusted sources, such as tourist information, tour guides, or local experts.
By understanding who your most common types of guests are you can better tailor your offerings to their needs and provide truly exceptional experiences.
Here are some useful links to begin creating guest personas:
- If you use Google Analytics, there is a very informative article here
- If you are less technical and prefer a more traditional approach Net Affinity has three simple steps for you to get started here
If you don’t have time to create guest personas because you are fighting with clunky payment systems and hotel management software that never works - We might have the solution for you right here.
Still trying to decide which Online Travel Agent (OTA) to use? We have put some insights together for you here.