Mapping the Hotel Guest Journey From A-Z: A Complete Guide

Think about the last time you purchased something online. Buying an experience or booking a hotel involves undergoing the same mental and emotional process on the traveler’s part, just as making any other purchase decision.

This cognitive buying process is what leads the guests to book a particular destination and visualize exactly the kind of experience they had always wanted.

Thus, for every hotelier, it is important to identify, anticipate, and satisfy the guests’ requirements to enhance the overall guest experience and drive key business metrics.

It also allows the hotels to build a long-lasting relationship with their guests, who might develop a favorable disposition towards the property and the service rendered, thereby making it a point to return to it again and again, giving impetus to the notion of guest loyalty.

One way of achieving this all is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers, and this you can do by mapping the hotel guest journey from booking to departure.

Visualizing the Journey From a Typical Customer Viewpoint

In hospitality industry customer journey is a lot more important. Thus, mapping the hotel guest journey is one way of gaining customers’ perspective on why and how travelers book a stay for themselves. Be it a small hotel customer journey or big resort guest's, this process involves charting and analyzing the various phases your guests go through making sure they are investing their money in the right place.

Your customer journey map or experience map is also an excellent way of engaging and interacting with guests. Every stage has the potential to allow a hotelier to woo their guests with an exceptional service by using the right products and the right tools.

To top it all off, the level of engagement and communication with the guests heightens at each level of progress made by the guests in their respective journeys and allows the hotels to win their trust. Thus evaluating your hotel business along the customer journey is the best way of using this strategic tool. A vital part of hotel marketing, analyzing the customer journey is a must.

Benefits of Mapping the Guest Journey - the ROI

Based on Aberdeen Group research published in its “Customer Journey Mapping: Lead The Way To Advocacy”, some of the specific year-over-year (YoY) growth that companies with a customer journey management program enjoy over those that don’t include:

➝ Greater return on marketing investment: A focus on the customer’s journey gets over 50% greater return on marketing investments than for those that don’t.

➝ More positive social media mentions: A focus on the customer journey typically means a better customer experience. What does this mean? Nearly 25% more positive social media mentions.

➝ Greater revenue from customer referrals: Better customer experience also drives more positive word of mouth, driving more than 2.5x greater revenue from customer referrals.

➝ Faster average sales cycles: companies who manage journeys enjoy more than 13 times greater cross-sell and upsell revenue.

➝ Greater cross-sell and upsell revenue: cross-sell and upsell revenue over 55% greater than your competition, this stat alone should be compelling enough to get you started.

Here a few other benefits of mapping the hotel guest journey and the overall importance of customer journey mapping in the hotel industry:

• It allows insights and a deep probe into the customer psychology to understand things from their perspective.

• It helps identify customer’s problems and confusion by using the right tools and products at every stage and in turn, enhances the guest experience.

• It helps drive important business metrics and enables hotels to provide a customer-centric service.

• It helps to align the strategic and operational measures at each stage, right from the booking until check-out to make sure that hotels are not lagging in fulfilling their guests’ requests.

• It helps to personalize the guest experience.

• In a way, it digitizes the guest’s journey and enables hotels to make prior arrangements.

• It helps know where your target audience and bookings are coming from, making sure that your property is represented well from a review content perspective across various channels.

• Encourages the customers to view you as a brand with which they can strike a long-lasting bond.

• Helps to trace the path your guests took to reach you and allows the hotels to make the remaining journey better.

To simplify the concept of mapping the hotel guest journey, we have broken it down into several stages, providing you the ultimate guide to guest experience mapping, described in detail and supplemented with useful information on the right tools that can help a hotel achieve success at every point of contact with its guests:,

1. Travel Inspiration & Research

(I want to travel. Where Do I Go/Stay?)

As you sit to analyze the guest’s journey, start with the impulse that drives them to book a stay in the first place! The answer is obvious- travel. The urge to travel acts as a driving force behind the customer’s experience purchase.

The inspiration to travel derives from various sources. Let us break this down further in the Inspiration section:

Inspiration Stage: Factors influencing customers to undertake travel:

1. Social media plays a significant role in this regard, luring customers with gripping, illustrative, phenomenal, and highly-visual travel blogs, write-ups, videos, slideshows, travelogues, etc.

2. Thanks to a large number of travel bloggers who have been actively showcasing their own travel experiences through YouTube videos, interviews, travelogues, and explainer videos giving out useful tips on popular destinations, things to do there, what to pack, what to expect, etc.

3. Even popular destinations and hotels in these regions are not lagging behind in this entire casting-the-spell game. They are bewitching the customers with gripping content, things to do, activities & sightseeing for an exciting leisure trip.

4. Travel advertisements generated in abundance on social media showcasing breathtaking destinations and luxurious properties offering ‘4 Days-5 Nights Packages’ have the power to grab consumers' attention. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are extremely well-known for generating personalized advertisements based on individual preferences and clicks on related pages and links.

5. Even the 'word of mouth' has the power to prod someone to undertake travel. In this connection, travel inspiration received from a friend, relative, or colleague who has just returned from a vacation can also instill within the listener (your potential customer) the inspiration to travel.

6. Also, the testimonials and guest reviews on various social media platforms and hotel websites inspire a reading traveler to give it a go

Useful tools for the Travelers at the Inspiration Stage:

☛ Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.)
☛ Google and other major reviews sites such as TripAdvisor
☛ Advertisements in newspapers, travel magazines, blogs, etc.
☛ Word of mouth

Useful tools for the Hotels at the Inspiration Stage:

☛ Effective management of Google and other review sites by updating it with great pictures, timely responses to engage better with the customers, etc.
☛ Social media management
☛ Modern, fast website preferably with fresh testimonials from guests
☛ Press communication

Next, at the Research Stage, the future traveler has shortlisted a few destinations based on their personal choices and options. However, they have not yet arrived at a concrete decision.

At this stage, they are frantically depending on the internet to browse a plethora of options in terms of destinations and budget before giving a final say. Here, it is important to ensure your position and ranking over the OTAs as “76 percent of travelers are willing to pay more for a hotel that has positive ratings and reviews than one without.”

However, the potential guest is not entirely clueless. They still have a handful of resources, to begin with. For instance, they already have a few destinations in mind, the time at which they want to travel, things they would like to do there, time slots available for them, etc.

What Exactly Happens Here:

1. The future traveler budgets the trip and evaluates options to book the right experience.

2. They already have imagined themselves on that trip to narrow down their choices.

3. Feeds on OTA Reviews and probes into social media to get the possible authentic or majority feedback along with some additional information about the destination.

4. Again, a future traveler can also be a part of various travel forums and communities online. They might just look into them for multiple perspectives and other travel-related information.

5. The best place to shape the monetary aspect of the trip is the OTA platforms. Having said that, they rely heavily on the OTAs to compare and evaluate the overall budget for the trip.

6. Simultaneously, they are checking the hotel website for price and additional information aided by WebChat to help answer travel-related queries.

Useful tools for the Travelers at the Research Stage:

☛ Reviews & Feedback
☛ OTAs
☛ Social Media
☛ Forums and Communities
☛ Comparison sites
☛ Guides, travelogues, advertisements
☛ Hotel Website with WebChat

Useful tools for the Hotels at the Research Stage:

☛ Maintaining solid reviews on OTAs and Google
☛ Engaging with guests on OTAs and other review sites.
☛ Excellent Review Management across all channels to understand customer sentiments for making the positive changes
☛ Updated hotel website and fully-functional WebChat to assist potential customers and drive bookings
☛ Managing Social Media
☛ Digital Advertising

2. Booking

(Wish me luck! I am making a purchase)

At this stage, things have reached more to less to their conclusion. The traveler has chosen his/her preferred destination and time of travel. Greater attention is paid to the price comparison ratio to book the right or suitable accommodation. Although this stage could be considered an offshoot of the research stage, it still is distinct in its significance as here the traveler is more focused on price comparison and does so meticulously to finalize things for themselves.

Things to Expect at this Stage:

1. A bit more seriousness and focus on the part of the future traveler when comparing price or finding the right value ratio.

2. A split between the OTA sites and hotels in the light of the price comparison or whether to book direct (hotel website) or through the OTAs (, Airbnb, Expedia, or region-specific.)

3. The customer is looking for options based on preferences (location, recommendations, budget, listing, ranking, ideal time to travel, etc.)

4. The future traveler is looking for the best deal.

5. Possible pre-booking questions are addressed to the hotel staff through various modes. For instance, a hotel can have a visitor asking them over WebChat some questions like these:

“Is the shuttle service available?”

“Hi, I am looking to book a room for a family of 5 for the coming Monday.
So, which room would be suitable for us?”

“Can I check-in early?”

Useful tools for the Travelers at the Booking Stage:

  • ☛ OTAs, Google, TripAdvisor
  • ☛ Hotel Website
  • WebChat/LiveChat

Useful tools for the Hotels at the Booking Stage:

☛ A good ranking on the OTAs, review sites and Google
☛ Engaging with guests on the OTAs and other review sites.
☛ Modern, easy to use, mobile-optimized Hotel Website
☛ Booking engines and channel managers that offers direct rate comparison on Hotel Website
WebChat is designed for hotels to engage and convert website visitors.; a feature for the website to answer customers’ queries.
☛ The ability to upsell through the relevant pre-booking questions/queries

3. Pre-Arrival & Check-In

(Ready. Set. Go)

This is the preparation time where the guests will be gearing up for their upcoming trip after having received the booking confirmation from your end. This will enable them to pack accordingly, refine their itinerary, and gather the necessary documents with which they will be flying.

This stage has a lot of potential. Just imagine that even before meeting the guest you can sweep them off their feet with your distant service. You can also make their stay relevant and personalized.

What do Guests Want at this Stage?

1. Booking confirmation from the hotel.

2. Both the necessary and additional details to make their stay easier- check-in time, online check-in facility (if any), itinerary, weather details, things to do and pack, amenities offered, hotel address, special services, details regarding the shuttle or transport service that the hotel offers, the facility of leaving their baggage with the hotel while they explore the city, local recommendations, etc.

3. Preferably, a personalized micro page or pre-arrival email wherein is listed all the relevant and useful information regarding their upcoming stay with the hotel, almost like literally helping the guests with “this is what you will need.”

4. A reminder for their upcoming reservation, preferably a day before their scheduled arrival.

5. Special services, if any to be booked at the very outset.

6. Instant and useful replies to some more travel-related queries through WebChat or SMS, WhatsApp (Guest Messaging), or guest self-service portal.

7. As the world moves more into the messaging realm, you can use direct messaging to announce upcoming food specials, or let guests know that their room is ready early—these little alerts can be customized accordingly to ease hectic travel situations.

A few important sample messages at the Pre-Arrival Stage:

a. Booking Confirmation Message

“Hi, *name*. Thank you for choosing us. We would like to confirm your reservation at *hotel name* between *arrival date* and *departure date*. For more details on your booking, please visit *the URL.* We hope you will enjoy your stay and we look forward to welcoming you!”

b. Reminder Message

“Hi, *name.* Trust you’re doing well. This is a gentle reminder regarding your reservation at *hotel name* between *arrival date* and *departure date.* For more upgrades and special services, you can contact us by visiting *the URL.* We are looking forward to your arrival!”

c. Brochure/Guide Over the Phone Message

“Hi, *name.* We are looking forward to your stay. Want to know us better? Click on the *URL* to learn more about the amenities, request special service, learn about the area, and more.”

  • Check-In

(Is anybody here? .... Now begins my first physical experience with the hotel)

As the on-arrival marks the first physical contact or interaction that the guest has with you, it allows you every opportunity to win their trust. To sum it up, this phase begins the moment a guest arrives (check-in) at your property.

Even though the customer journey with you had begun at the pre-booking level, on-arrival marks the beginning of their physical journey and interaction with you. Although a bad on-arrival experience has nothing to do with your hotel in general, it still has a lot to do with guest psychology and perspective. Make sure that your hotel has made all the preparations required to give your guests a warm welcome.

For a beautiful on-arrival/check-in experience

1. Make sure that the guests reach your property hassle-free.

2. Make sure that your guests can find you. So provide your address, details about the area, shuttle or transport details, etc.

3. Make sure that the guests do not have to wait past their check-in time. Coordinate well with your housekeeping staff to ensure that the rooms are ready.

4. If possible, accord your guests the option of self or a quick check-in.

5. Provide a warm welcome to your guests.

You can employ a lot of gestures here such as greeting the guests with a smile, striking an amicable conversation to get more useful information on what they are looking for like “are you on a business or leisure trip?” “How did you find us?” etc., providing warm delights along the way like a complimentary on-arrival drink, free mints, a plate of appetizers, free wine, and cheese hour, etc.

6. Once your guests’ check-in, they will have a lot of other stay-related questions like breakfast timings, WiFi password, nearby restaurant recommendations, special services, gym & pool timings, etc. Why not answer these questions beforehand?

You can use Email or Guest Messaging to make sure that all the information upon check-in reaches the guests on their phones along with the house rules for easy access from time to time whenever a query arises.

7. Also at the check-in, you can request the guests to use Guest Messaging to allow a flawless and instant communication right from the comfort of their rooms.

Be it in posing any stay-related questions, asking directions and recommendations, or requesting things seamlessly from their rooms, Guest Messaging can be a great tool. Powering your messaging with PMS integration is one of the best ways to keep track of what messages to send at various touchpoints in the hotel guest journey.

A few important sample messages at the Check-in/On-Arrival Stage:

a. Welcome Text

👋 “Hi, *name* Welcome to *hotel name.* Your WiFi is *HappyGuest.* Here is a personalized welcome page that has all the relevant details about your stay, right from the shuttle to nearby recommendations. Please visit *the URL* Breakfast is served from 6:30 to 9:30 AM. We also have Happy Hours for our guests every day from 5 pm-10 pm🍷 Feel free to text us here if you have any questions. Enjoy your stay”

b. Complimentary Facilities Message

“Welcome to the *hotel name.* Once you’re settled, head over to the lounge on the second floor for a complimentary glass of wine and Hors d’oeuvre” Hope you will have a great stay”🎉

Useful tools for the Guests at the Pre-Arrival & Check-In Stage:

☛ Communication channels
☛ Guest self-service portal
☛ Brochure or activity guide or Personalized MicroPage that has Welcome guide
☛ Booking confirmation email

Useful tools for the Hotels at the Pre-Arrival & Check-In Stage:

☛ Pre-arrival email
☛ Communication tools like WebChat, Email, and Guest Messaging to answer questions with ease
☛ Guest self-service portal
☛ Upselling
☛ Personalized micro page or questionnaires
☛ Brochure or helpful activity guide
☛ PMS Integration to automate communication

4. During the Stay

(So far, so good)

This stage is all about the in-house experience for a guest. To sum it up, this phase begins from when the guest arrives (check-in) and what they do during their stay (mid-stay) right up until they bid you goodbye (check-out).

This phase has a great significance as it allows a possible service recovery when guests might start sharing their reviews online. So a mid-stay checking on how the stay is going will allow you to identify the problem areas beforehand and resolve these issues before they assume the form of the negative guest experience.

For instance,

👋 “Hi, *Jennifer.* We hope that you are doing well. How is your stay so far? Please let us know if we can assist with anything during your stay. Take care”

Things to Pay Attention to at this Stage:

1. Once after the on-arrival phase, the guest settles in, it is imperative to send them all the house rules with Wi-Fi password, breakfast timings, pool & gym timings, local tips & recommendations, special services, etc

2. Use Guest Messaging strategically to ask the guests mid-stay about their experience so far to know if there’s anything they require in particular. Again, at this stage, you can very wisely remind them about the benefit of requesting things seamlessly from their rooms and about your special services.

“Hi, *name.* Thank you for choosing to stay with us. We hope that you are doing well. If there’s a special service that you require, please feel free to drop us a text.”

3. You can also identify the passions and preferences of your guests and offer them special services based on the same.

4. Encourage the guests to use Guest Messaging to ask for a late check-out, stay extension, room upgrade, special service, etc.

Useful tools for the Guests at the Mid-Stay Stage:

Guest Messaging
☛ Social Media to share their experiences on.
☛ Guest self-service portal

Useful tools for the Hotels at the Mid-Stay Stage:

☛ Communication mode (Guest Messaging)
☛ Personalized services
☛ Upselling tools

5. Check-Out & Post Stay

(Nostalgia strikes! Time to bid goodbye)

This is the last stage in the hotel guest journey where your guest will finally bid you goodbye. However, this is a crucial stage as it is here that the guests will review their stay with you based on their overall experience and factors like cleanliness, amenities, location, staff service, food & drinks, etc. The task of the hotel at this stage is to provide maximum means to the guests where they can leave and share their reviews.

Things to Do at this Stage:

1. Providing a streamlined checkout process. If the guests do not get a late checkout and just want permission to store their baggage with you while they explore the city, it will be great if you could encourage that. This small gesture can go a long way in influencing the guest’s perspective in a positive way.

2. Make it easier for the guests to provide you direct feedback or review. It can be through email, WhatsApp, sharing Google & TripAdvisor review interface links, scanning QR codes, providing a review card with the relevant link, the check-out. Easy means will get you more reviews and more reviews will drive the review volume and score up.

For instance,

Thank you for choosing to stay with us. We hope you had a wonderful stay. Your bill *reference ID* has been paid in full. We would be happy if you could leave us a review on *URL.* We look forward to the pleasure of hosting you once more”

3. Remember that more reviews mean more bookings, high popularity ranking on platforms like TripAdvisor and a positive influence on pricing.

• Post Stay

(Time to work on feedback and forging an ever-lasting bond)

This is when the guests return from their trips and reminisce about their experience with you (be it good or bad). Based on what they are experiencing, they would resort to the internet to share their reviews and thoughts on various platforms. The word of mouth comes into play here as the guests are highly likely to share their experience with their friends and relatives.

A guest with a positive experience is likely to mention your hotel to their close friends and who knows, they might even become a promoter by sharing their thoughts on various online platforms!

Things to Consider at this Stage:

1. Sending a sweet reminder to the guests a few days after check-out to give a review on OTAs if it’s not done already:

👋 “Hi, *Jennifer.* Thank you for choosing to stay with us. We hope you had a wonderful stay. We’d really appreciate if you just take a moment to share your experience with us:* the link.* We look forward to the pleasure of hosting you again. Safe travels. {Name}, General Manager”

2. Engaging with guests on Google and various other OTA platforms through timely responses to their reviews.

3. You can consider post-stay targeted marketing based on customer segments if the guests have opted in for future updates and further communication.

[Note: these messages should only be sent to the guests who have opted-in for receiving it as too many messages, especially the promotional ones might be a little too overwhelming for the guests.]


“We miss you, Jennifer! We are giving out a special discount of 25% on the second night of stay. Call us on *number* to book. Offer expires in 30 days.”

Useful tools for the Guests at the Check-Out/Post Stay Stage:

☛ A simple and quick way to leave Feedback & Review
☛ Social Media
☛ Communication Channels
☛ Word of mouth

Useful tools for the Hotels at the Check-Out/Post Stay Stage:

☛ Collecting feedback easily through survey via email or text message
☛ Collecting reviews automatically for Google, TripAdvisor, and OTAs
☛ Questionnaires, quick surveys, interviews
☛ Managing reviews across platforms
☛ Learning from guests’ feedback with a 360° view on each guest’s journey to better incorporate feedback
☛ Responding to guests comments professionally and promptly
☛ Marketing emails

A Quick Recapitulation:

Powering both the independent and award-winning boutique hotels with a next-generation review solution, GuestTouch, allows you to engage with your guests throughout their journey and drive important business metrics.

It integrates with your PMS and provides an all-in-one solution that aids in interacting with your customers at various touch points, getting more reviews easily, improving your scores, analyzing reviews, responding to them across all sites, and influencing customers’ booking decisions, automatically. See a free demo?

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Posted on
May 26, 2020

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