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Know Your Guest: 5 Habits To Look For In 2023

Despite all the disruption and uncertainty we have seen in the past three years, the guest has not changed – they still want great experiences. However, what hoteliers need to be aware of is how the guest’s habits have changed, particularly in how they book hotel rooms. If you can tap into how to market to the guest of today, you will outperform the market.

If we look at the notion of hedonic adaptation, we can see that people rarely change despite what they go through. Years ago, a survey looked at the long-term happiness of lottery winners and those who had been victims of catastrophic accidents. What the study found was that people’s happiness is the same about 18 months after either life-changing event has happened.

For more insight on industry trends & predictions for 2023 read our latest eBook: Targeting Greater Profitability In 2023. Download your free copy today:

As we all pull through the pandemic and life settles back to normal, that seems like a very apt comparison. And it certainly correlates with what we see in our data at Oaky. We looked at what guests were buying in 2015 in terms of upselling and compared it to data for 2022. What guests were looking for has not changed.

But what has changed is the way we buy these experiences. This has changed significantly.

Here are 5 guest habits to tap into if you want to succeed in 2023:

1. We have an 8.25-second attention span, which is shorter than that of a goldfish

Everything you read, sell, and consume must be quick and targeted. Everything is being boiled down to its absolute essence. Take Blinkist as an example. This is a book-summarizing subscription service that enables you to read or listen to the key insights of a book in less than 15 minutes.

We recently did an A/B test to determine how much content you need to show a guest to make them buy something. In the test, the first option was a website with a picture and a lot of text. The variation on this was a landing page with great pictures and minimal text with tiles. Our test showed that 75% would buy from the landing page with minimal text. Guests did not need to read the full description.

As a hotelier, you need to capture your audience through succinct and meaningful content, be it images or text.

2. People buy on feelings, not attributes. 

We don’t buy a room because it is 25m2, but because we are guaranteed a great night’s sleep with views of the city.

Bullet point lists of attributes of a room aren’t interesting. Hotels need to sell on feelings not attributes. Don’t feel compelled to list everything, rather use your marketing copy to put the guest in the room, in the destination, in the experience.

3. We are constantly looking for stimuli and planning our trip during the trip. 

Years ago, you would go to a tour operator and everything was planned for your trip. Now you plan as you go. Hoteliers tell me ‘I don’t want to spam my guests and over-communicate’. But you should see every touch point in the journey as an opportunity to provide something relevant. Early in the customer journey is great for selling upgrades, closer to arrival you sell more ancillary services, late check-outs, and excursions. And at check-in, the front desk typically sells a lot of upgrades.

Hoteliers need to spend time understanding what the guests want and when. The time to sell is important to conversion. If you’re relevant you win. But you need to have data to guide you on this. 

4. We base our decisions on spoon-fed personalized content. 

We recently did research and put out a whitepaper on the most popular deals for business and leisure guests. We found that hotels that offer the right deals to the right segment have a far higher conversion.

Hoteliers need to get the basics right with segmentation, yet too many hotels don’t do segmentation of any kind.  Segmentation enables you to understand what the guest wants and then offer it. Again, you need data and tech to do this right. But once you start you will see quick and great results.

5. We are continuously unconsciously making decisions based on behavioral science. 

We can make up to 35,000 subconscious decisions a day. We see it in marketing all around us. It’s called priming, which occurs when we are exposed to a stimulus that influences our response. For example, we may see a photo that provokes an emotional reaction. Or we may hear music or experience a scent that makes us want something. For example, if you play French music in a restaurant it will make your diners spend more. Hoteliers should look at behavioral science and start applying it to their sales, marketing, and operations.

Attend to all these five guest habits and you will outperform the market. 

Hospitality Trends To Watch In 2023

In addition to guest behavioral habits, there are several trends that we believe we will see come through in terms of hotel operations in 2023. These are:

1. Investing in staff well-being

Company culture and staff well-being will be an investment hotel companies and hotel tech technology companies alike will need to make to create remarkable experiences for the guest and respond to staff shortages. If you don’t get that right, you don’t get the business.

2. Turning front-office agents into upselling superheroes will aid the war for talent

In 2023, many of your front office staff will never have worked in the front office before – and technology will be essential to help them master upselling from week one.

Oaky is building a front-desk upselling product with the ambition to turn any front desk agent into an upselling superhero. It will deliver a script and personalized offers with dynamic prices from Duetto so that the front-desk agent is armed with the right tools to convert the guest standing in front of them. There will also be exciting gamification and reporting elements to drive competition and personal development. Other than driving more profit for the hotel, and enhancing the guest experience - front-desk agents using Oaky linked with Duetto will also make much more commission than working in other hotels, and this will aid you in securing talent.

3. Revenue Strategy will extend beyond the booking

Revenue strategy will be across all commercial departments and extended across all parts of the guest journey. At present, a room’s rate is largely determined by data on demand and supply. Integrating with Oaky and Duetto, hotels will be able to factor in category upgrades. For example, a hotel sees increased demand for its standard double but is close to sell-out in that category. What would happen if it offered an attractive upgrade package to guests who booked a standard double more than a month ago? 1 - you get a few upgrades, 2 - you free up more standard doubles while demand is high for that room category, and 3 - you boost profitability.

4. Hyper-personalization is a thing

Personalization starts with segmentation and then moves towards hyper-personalization. We know the recipe for success is a guest being sold the right deal at the right time at the right moment at the right price on the right channel. But all of those variables are unique to that guest.

In the Middle East, for example, hotels see a higher propensity for conversion on WhatsApp, while in European countries email is the preferred channel. Channel marketing is a very important aspect of communicating with guests. And while there is much science behind getting all that right, it has to start with basic segmentation.

We are now seeing ultra-luxury hotels embracing hyper-personalized digital upselling. Many ultra-luxury hotels are relying on amazing service - which is the human touch. However, there is now a new segment of guests coming to stay that expects a digital experience alongside the human experience, and that presents new opportunities for hyper-personalized digital upselling.

2023 promises to be a very exciting year for hospitality. Those hoteliers who target the guest in fresh, targeted ways will enjoy an increase in both guest satisfaction and profitability. 

Discover more trends & predictions from industry leaders in our latest eBook: Targeting Greater Profitability In 2023. Download your FREE copy today:

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