by Beth Harvey

It is no secret that personalization has been the hot topic for hotel marketers and technology professionals over the past couple of months. Research has shown that guests searching for travel information are no different than any other online consumer; they are now expecting a significant level of personalization during their travel planning. In order to bring the attention back to your hotel website and increase interaction, hoteliers need to incorporate personalization strategies sufficient to meet the demands in this new online environment.

The use of customization and targeted search are not new concepts for online shoppers. Top retail brands have set the bar high providing online shoppers with item recommendations based on their recent search history and preferences. For example, shoppers at experience personalization in a few different ways when browsing through the site:

  • "Recommendations" tab for those looking to browse popular items
  • "Nordstrom Rewards" for users that sign in and shop
  • "Suggested Items" that are similar to the item you have chosen
  • "People also bought" suggestions that match your taste
  • "Recently Viewed" items to keep track of your shopping history
  • "Frequently bought together" items that complement your item
  • "Reviews" from shoppers that have bought item you're interested in

Custom features such as these have shown significant consumer engagement across the board and in many cases, an increase in online sales. According to (, 61% of consumers feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are more likely to buy. This feature is especially successful with sites that see a lot of shopper traffic, such as Amazon and Overstock . Amazon specifically reports that its recommendation feature: "People who bought this item also bought these items," generates 35% of its revenue . The same can be said for Netflix users, as 75% select movies and television shows from their recommendations. (

Why is personalization so important? With 70% of consumers expecting personalization, it is not something to be ignored (Momentology). More and more people want to be recognized as individuals, with 4 out of 10 travelers willing to share their information in the interest of personalization (Skift). As more brands strive to incorporate personalization techniques, it is important to remember that customer data plays a critical role in the success of your marketing strategy. The CMO Council discovered that 44% of marketers admit they do not have good visibility into customer lifetime value and retention rates and this creates a large issue when it comes to connecting with your guests.

Utilizing customer data and knowing your traveler means providing better customer service, creating satisfied customers and more likely to return guests. This focus on personalization will reflect positively onto the customer, as 78% of consumers believe organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships (Triblio).

The CMO Council recently reported that 36% of marketers feel that the current market environment is cluttered and confused, making it more challenging to engage with customers. With this information in mind, the main priority for marketers now should be incorporating more personalized services based on specific customer data.

So, what does a personalization strategy look like for Independent Hotels?

At the core of this process is the need for independent hotels to deeply understand their guests wants and needs throughout the booking process. Creatively and innovatively using visitor data can give marketers the advantage to make a connection with guests before they even book. In fact, some of the most valuable visitor data can be tracked from the very first visit to the website. For example, visitor referring source is an important piece of data that can not only tell marketers what brought visitors to the site, but what they're looking for when they hit the home page. Another valuable piece of data is the visit history. Marketers should evaluate the average number of times guests are visiting the site before booking to learn about their guests and ensure they're seeing the most effective piece of content on the visit that means the most.

Determining who guests are and how they behave will tell hotel marketers which tools they should implement to develop a strategy focused on their niche and personalizing the experience for guests. Understanding and predicting the guest needs will allow marketers to present each guest with the messaging, campaign, or offer that will be most meaningful to their experience.