Recently, I have been putting a lot of thought into reviewing where PR sits within the customer (or guest) journey. How much impact does PR activity have in the four key stages that a guest will walk through before (and after) booking their vacation rental?
It is clear that PR will have impact in the ‘awareness’ stage, but how about in the ‘consideration’ stage when a potential guest is researching for a property? Or when actually ‘purchasing’ their stay? Can PR impact the ‘loyalty’ phase and foster returning guests? Finally, where and how does PR fit with ‘advocacy’ — the sharing and telling with others?
My view and experience is that PR has a solid and valuable role to fill in all of these key stages of a guest’s journey to purchase and beyond. PR sits around the entire customer journey. Let me explain.
In the awareness phase of a customer journey, a potential guest discovers a need that includes booking a vacation to a particular destination, and that they would prefer to stay in a vacation rental over a hotel. For example, a potential guest may become aware that Florida’s Anna Maria Island is a great place to vacation during the spring and are looking for ideas of where to book there that are within a five-hour drive from home.
PR exposure (which is earned, not paid for) of your properties and management business has an important role to play in shaping the discovery phase of a guest starting to think about booking a rental. A well-placed article, an interesting targeted blog anda shared social media post all help generate a need and impact awareness.
In the consideration phase of their buying journey, your potential guest knows they want to go to Anna Maria Island and now they are researching how to get there. They are weighing the pros and cons of different travel options, booking sites, property management companies and other options for their stay.
In the consideration phase, online coverage including details of your properties can really hold sway and influence a booking decision. This coverage may come from a feature, a third-party review site, a friend’s social media page or a travel blog. What other people say about your vacation rentals has far more influence over what you say about your rentals.
Good PR can be helpful in the purchase phase. It can continue to help nurture the buying process and generate the all-important trust in your business.
Advocacy and loyalty are essential for lead generation and customer conversion. This is especially true for travel and experiences, and most definitely true for the vacation rental industry. After a guest stays with you, what they say about you will have a big impact on generating new business. In today’s digital and social world, advocacy and sharing is powerful. People are influenced by what their friends and families think and say. In the advocacy stage of the guest journey, your guests become your best PR.
Jessica Gillingham is the director of Abode PR, an integrated PR, social media and content marketing agency solely servicing the vacation rental industry.
You can download a free guide from Abode PR on: “Successfully Pitching Your Press Release to Travel Editors” here.