June 9, 2022 · Alyssa Fate

5 Marketing Psychology Tactics To Increase Direct Bookings

In a time when travel is bouncing back heavily post-pandemic, it is imperative that hotel marketers compete at a championship level. New trends continue to swirl through the towns of hospitality and tourism like a tornado and hotelier storm chasers are left trying to keep up. But, before diving into the deep end of the latest craze, be sure you’ve mastered the basics – fundamental marketing tactics that can be weaved through both traditional and digital efforts like a loom.

Marketing 101: It is important for marketers in any industry to have a thorough understanding of how our customers think, feel and act, and for hotel marketers, understanding what motivates our potential guests is priceless. With the guest in mind, hoteliers can use this information to manipulate customer behavior and increase revenue.

Human brain illustration.

A complex and fascinating discipline – marketing psychology can become rather granular when studying consumer behavior. Here are five simple concepts that savvy hoteliers can easily master and implement into both traditional and digital marketing campaigns.

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Social Proof




Trust & Risk Mitigation

More to Consider

1. Social Proof

As a concept that many people are probably already familiar with, social proof demonstrates that people are inherently followers. We see this often when fans purchase a product that their favorite celebrity may have endorsed, or choose a service based on its sparkling reviews.

As a hotel, you can easily integrate this popular marketing psychology tactic into your efforts.

How to Use Social Proof in Hotel Marketing

  • Display how many people are currently viewing a particular page: “7 people currently viewing this room”
  • Showcase how many people have already booked a particular room: “30 people have already booked this room for January”
  • Solicit and display guest testimonials: “The staff was incredible and the room was CLEAN – highly recommend!”

Related: Check out why social media is important to your overall hotel marketing strategy.

2. Scarcity

The concept of scarcity simply states that humans consider a scarce object more valuable than one which is abundant. The rarer the opportunity or product, the more valuable it is.

This basic idea of supply and demand is permanently cemented in the minds of consumers and hotels can use this marketing psychology tactic to their advantage.

How to Use Scarcity in Hotel Marketing

  • Limited inventory → “Only 2 rooms left!”
  • Limited time offer → “Only 12 hours left for reduced rates!”

3. Urgency

Urgent situations cause us to suspend deliberate thought and to act quickly. Creating a sense of urgency will cut through cognitive friction and reduce the amount of time people spend considering alternatives – which is exactly what we want to do when encouraging travelers to advance through the conversion funnel.There are several clever ways a hotel can incorporate urgency messaging across marketing platforms to create a sense of urgency.

How to Use Urgency in Hotel Marketing

  • Countdown Timers → “Only 2 days left” of a sale; “Rate guaranteed for 10 minutes”
  • “Popular travel dates”
  • “These dates sold out last year”

4. Anchoring

Anchoring describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily (or “anchor”) on one trait or piece of information when making decisions – in this case, price.

Introducing costs based on this notion can help convince consumers that they are getting a great deal. This marketing psychology tactic is less about your pricing and / or packages and more about how they are presented. Creating context through strategically anchoring your room rates will produce a positive effect in relation to how amounts are perceived.Hotels can utilize a variety of colors and formatting alongside flexible packaging options and rate manipulation when employing anchoring as a strategy.

How to Use Anchoring in Hotel Marketing:

  • Discounted rate: $259 | $199 When you book today!
  • Packages (ex: include breakfast at a higher rate)
  • Offer rates for slightly less than the OTAs

Speaking of OTAs – Learn how to convert OTA guests to in-house bookings here.

5. Trust & Risk Mitigation

People want to trust your brand, trust that they are making the right decision and trust that they are getting the best deal possible. Messaging that eliminates doubt in a consumer’s mind can help achieve the ultimate goal – a conversion.There are several simple messages that a hotel can utilize to establish trust in the consumer’s mind.

How to Use Trust in Hotel Marketing

  1. Free cancellation
  2. No deposit required
  3. Free refunds
  4. Secure booking
  5. Upsell opportunity → Travel insurance/vacation protection plan

Other Marketing Psychology Tactics to Consider

  • Be an Authority: Increase trustworthiness by being an authoritative brand
  • Offer Value: Make the guest feel appreciated by offering value to a stay
  • Exclusivity: Guests want to feel like they are part of something special
  • Consistency: Be persistent in your communication so guests will commit
  • Goal Gradient: Visually show where a guest is in the checkout process
  • Offer a Why: Make your competitive advantages clear to consumers
  • Blemishing Effect: Leave negative reviews visible, but respond to them kindly
  • Simplify: Less is more – avoid choice overload in room types and rates
  • Guarantee: Make purchasers feel safe with their decision
  • Information Bias: The more information about a product, the more valuable it seems
  • Nudge: Continuous, subtle prompts to drive purchase behavior

If there is any doubt that these simple concepts actually work, look closely at some of travel’s largest players. Brands like Hilton, Marriott and major OTAs already exploit these marketing psychology tactics throughout the research and booking process.The truth is simple – mastering the basics of psychology in marketing can help keep potential guests engaged and nudge them through the decision making process, adding to your bottom line.

If you’re looking for tips on implementing these top marketing psychology tactics, the experts at TravelBoom can help.

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