Comedian Demetri Martin once quipped, “The digital camera is a great invention because it allows us to reminisce. Instantly.” Humor aside, the ability to appreciate experiences instantaneously and share widely works to the great advantage of those who create travel experiences.
According to a recent study, 76 percent of travelers post their vacation photos to social networks, and 52 percent report having been inspired to make travel plans based on a friend’s social media photos. With travelers sharing images and destination experiences across social media networks, the opportunity for hotels and vacation rentals to reach new guests and bring back previous guests has grown. As image-heavy social networks like Instagram and Snapchat continue to grow, the impact is even greater. The more time travelers spend reminiscing, an inherent aspect of sharing, the more likely they are to plan a return visit. Features such as Facebook’s “See Your Memories” and cultural sharing trends such as Throwback Thursday (#tbt) can regularly and unexpectedly retrigger the connections travelers have to a cherished trip or property.
What’s Happening for Travelers During the Post-Stay Sharing Phase?
New York Times writer Stephanie Rosenbloom notes that reminiscing can be key to holding on to that vacation glow. Rarely does this look like flipping through a photo album anymore. Friends and spouses may text images back and forth, travelers are likely to post on the hotel Facebook page within the days and weeks after a trip, and most will share trip highlights at some point on social media, either during the trip, just after, or both.
Many travelers are also already dreaming about their next trip. In Australia, for instance, a search for flights increases 40 percent after the Christmas holiday, and after Diwali in India, hotel searches increase 111 percent. Some of those, no doubt, are for follow-up trips to the destination from which they have just returned.
How are they Searching During the Post-Stay Sharing Phase?
? Besides searching for remedies for the post-vacation blues, travelers that are searching will likely be daydreaming and/or searching for trips for the next holiday time period. Searches may look like: “Holiday getaways” “Where to go next” “Flights to (previous destination)”
What Should Hoteliers & VRMs Be Doing to Reach Guests in this Phase?
Hotels and vacation rentals can build on the loyalty established during the stay, encourage advocacy, and promote future visits. This is a phase where two different types of guests may be reached, those who have just returned from your property and those who have visited within the last several years. The first group—the more recent guests—should always be reached with a post-trip follow up message. Many properties benefit from including a special offer for the next visit. The second group—previous guests from the last few years—can be contacted periodically in hopes that you will catch them in a ‘dreaming’ or ‘post-trip’ planning phase. Use records of your guests’ behavior and preferences as well as spending habits to personalize communications and increase their effectiveness. Consider targeting marketing messages to the time periods in which a previous guest first visited your website or called when planning their last trip.
NAVIS Tools for the Post-Stay Phase:
- In your automated post-stay email, ask tactfully for travelers to post reviews of their stay online. Provide a link.
- Campaigns encouraging guests to share their photos can be highly effective in spreading social word-of-mouth.
Technology is essential to every aspect of the guest booking journey; however, technology is only a tool for conveying value and solidifying the loyalty that you earned during the stay. As writer Harriet Edleson notes regarding the industry effort to encourage repeat guests, “Despite the growth of social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, hoteliers realize that they must use technology without losing track of the personal interactions and amenities needed to attract travelers.” The experience is the foundation on which technology can build.
 What travellers do after a trip? Apparently, they search for more trips. Tnooz. October 2013.
 Edleson, Harriet. Hotels Go to Extra Lengths for the Repeat Customer. The New York Times. October 2013.