How Reference Groups Influence your Hotel Bookings?

In this new era in which consumers data are densely available, travelers have been relying a lot about information on past hotel guest’s experiences to make booking decisions. Many research found that reference groups which can include family members, peers, celebrities, opinions leaders or any individuals to which you can identify play an important role when it comes to influencing a hotel’s choice.  Indeed, some people select to stay at a property which reflect their belongings to a certain group. Purchase intentions in the hotel industry are highly guided by online reference groups especially with all those platforms in which consumer reviews are accessible to all.  In order to reduce risks, most people planning a trip take in consideration feedback of their reference group’s experience in different properties before proceeding to any confirmation. According to the organization Hotel Business (Links to an external site.), 81% travelers read reviews before making a hotel reservation. Reviews by reference groups have demonstrated to be a crucial moment of truth for travelers. This is why hotel marketers optimize this touchpoint the best they can to attract potential guests.

How are Reference Groups Defined?

Reference groups can be defined by groups of individuals influencing one’s opinion, behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. They often are regarded as a source of inspiration for travelers. Hoteliers consider reference groups as an important part of their marketing strategies as their perceptions highly influence their guest’s purchase intents. Indeed, people are faced to societal effects when choosing a brand. Buying decisions are made to conform to others and build a social identity to be perceived as a society member and achieve a particular group acceptance. In other words, the group surrounding a consumer influences his/her values and impacts the final decision when it comes to booking a particular hotel.

How Travelers Rely on Reference Groups in the Digital Age?

Reference Groups Online Word of Mouth

Online Word of Mouth (WOM) is one of the most crucial sources of message transmission from all types of reference groups nowadays. Successful hotel marketers make sure to build strong and long-lasting relationships with guests as a way to reinforce the word of mouth from their guest’s reference groups. Maximizing word of mouth shared online gives the possibility to offer even more up-to-date and timely information to guests than on hotel websites leading to greater influences on booking decisions. Indeed, WOM can reveal many aspects about a property such as rooms quality as well as customer service experiences which allows people to determine how well a particular property fit their needs. Consumers will highly consider word of mouth through reviews from people they consider to be from social groups they refer to. Ensuring positive word of mouth through online review sites and your own website will help you stimulate proactive interactions between your prospect guests and people from their reference groups. As a result, it will strengthen customer’s trust and significantly increase your hotel’s booking.

Virtual Communities Reference Groups in Social Media

In this new age, people have been greatly influenced by virtual communities through social media. Indeed, these digital platforms expose people to communities having the most diverse behaviors and opinions and serving as reference groups. Social media gives the opportunity to consumers to engage with people who share the same interests including topics regarding the travel and hotel industry. Besides, consumers are also influenced by what people from their surroundings share on social media. A research mentioned by the Marketing organization Stackla (Links to an external site.) found that “86% of people have become interested in traveling to a certain destination after seeing social images from peers, family and friends ” and 52% made booking plans based on those imageries. Besides, celebrity endorsement through the use of influencers and opinion leaders on social media has also been a popular marketing method among hoteliers. Celebrities have for long been perceived as reference groups guiding people’s purchase process. Indeed, marketers look for celebrities that best represent their guest’s reference groups to attract customers. This leads existing and potential guests to feel a strong attachment to a specific hotel brand through the unique connection they have with a certain celebrity. Thus, this strategy significantly increases the customer’s lifetime value. In fact, people are likely booking a hotel accommodation endorsed by a lovable celebrity as they want to share the same values and lifestyles of these social media influencers they admire.

In sum, reference groups highly influence hotel reservation’s intentions. As people are heavily relying on their reference group’s perception before proceeding to a hotel booking, it is crucial to ensure positive messaging are shared through review sites and social media. As a hotelier, the best way to do that is to develop strong ties with your guests as well as with the online community. In this way, your target audience will consider your property as the best choice for upcoming stays!