When it comes to marketing, conversational copywriting is not a new phenomenon. In fact, in his 1963 book, ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’, David Ogilvy wrote: “Unless you have some special reason to be solemn and pretentious, write your copy in the colloquial language which your customers use in everyday conversation.” This is conversational copywriting to a tee. But many hotels still prefer to use a more formal tone of voice. Conversational copywriting is a powerful tool for hotels. Conversational copywriting is writing authentically about what your guests care about, in a way that appeals to your potential guests too.

In 2018, Google saw a 600% increase in the time that people spent watching travel “review” videos. In these videos, travellers and influencers show their real-life experiences of their trip: where they stayed, what they did and what they ate. Consumers want to know what to realistically expect before they spend their money. Sara Kleinberg, Google’s Head of Ads Research and Insights, said in an interview in March 2018: “People also told us that other people’s videos are easier to understand than professional reviews. It’s straightforward, conversational language. No specifications. Just the basics. “Talk to me like you know me,” one person told us.”

The “straightforward, conversational language” that Sara Kleinberg mentioned, shouldn’t be limited to just the traveller experience videos. Hotels can bring this insight to the messaging that they use on their digital channels, and most importantly, their website.

Where does conversational copywriting fit for hotels?

Research has shown that when consumers are booking travel, their path to purchase is complex and lengthy. The average accommodation purchasing process lasted 36 days and was made up of 45 touchpoints across devices and websites. This same study found one traveller who had over 500 digital touchpoints while researching a flight. The journey to purchase can be complicated for travellers—this is an opportunity for hotels to bring conversational copywriting to their website.

The following model from Google illustrates the journey to purchase process clearly:

Journey to purchase model

In the middle of the purchasing journey, there is a back-and-forth between exploration and evaluation until the traveller has enough information to make their decision. They loop between OTAs, hotel websites, blogs and review sites until they are ready to make their decision.

The benefits of conversational copywriting

Understanding that your customers often have a messy and confusing path to purchase, means that your hotel should be there to help them at the right time, with the right information. Using what you know about your past guests, you can show these potential guests what they need to know, might like to know, and want to know. With the right information, you can close this gap of exploration and evaluation. By closing the gap, your potential customers will spend less time exposed to competitor brands and OTAs while they’re looking for information.

How to use conversational copywriting on your hotel website

1. Understand your guests

To get started with conversational copywriting, it’s essential to understand who your guests are. You can build a good picture of your guests by considering the following questions:

  • How would you categorise your guests by persona? For example, families, business travellers etc.
  • What is their motivation for choosing your hotel? For example, a special occasion, cheap but close to the city, interconnecting rooms etc.
  • Why do they benefit from booking through your hotel website versus a competitor or OTA?
  • What makes your hotel unique? What do your customers like about you?

2. Use your reviews to understand your guests

To help you answer these questions, your hotel reviews are a perfect source of insight. Reviews give you more understanding of what your guests enjoyed but also allows you to zoom out and see how your hotel can be differentiated from others.

“Sometimes when we talk with hoteliers, we find that they are unsure of what makes them unique because they are so close to their hotel all the time. And just looking on the website sometimes, you’re not able to see this either because the hotels don’t have it on their website.” — Nadine Schröder, Account Manager at Hotelchamp

Take a look at Google, TripAdvisor and Booking.com for your hotel reviews. Between January 2019 and August 2020, 47.8% of hotel reviews were done on Google, followed by TripAdvisor with 21% and Booking with 17%. TripAdvisor alone has over 867 million reviews on its website—so there are most likely plenty of reviews of your hotel for you to go through. Use tools like TrustYou to aggregate your past customer reviews to give you and your future customers an understanding of your hotel and what they can expect. This is useful for forming the messaging on your website. Take a look at both the positive and negative reviews—capture sentiment and use this for your messaging.

Below is an example of how much information you can find in your hotel’s reviews:

Review example for conversational copywriting

3. Know your brand

Having a good understanding of your hotel’s brand is also part of using conversational copywriting. The more familiar you are with your hotel’s brand and positioning, the easier it will be to bring the brand’s tone of voice into your messaging. The Arcade Hotel in Amsterdam is a brilliant example of having a clear tone of voice that accurately reflects their brand.

From COVID-19 messaging to room descriptions, The Arcade Hotel has created an identifiable voice by utilising conversational copywriting tactics.

“It all really started when we had to create the website and all the text for the rooms. So a room could have been “Small, cozy double room” which works great for OTA sites, but then when I had to write it for my website, it just became “Just enough space to get it on good with you partner”. Now you can picture something in your head, it makes you laugh, and that emotion right there, makes you stand out from everyone else. In truth, sometimes shock value is what I go for, but tastefully. You want people to remember you and like you, to know that you are real and not just someone paid to write for a company that does what every other company does.” — Dan Salmanovich, Founder of The Arcade Hotel

4. Use personalisation and targeting

You can add a lot of messages and widgets to your website, but it’s the quality of the message that is important. If you’re using a one-size-fits-all approach to your messaging, you will quickly end up with too many messages or missing information that some travellers will find valuable. Personalisation helps to effectively position your brand for different traveller personas.

“I think the whole value of perception is pretty cool. On a hotel website, you can position your value one way but then if you actually know how your visitors feel about your hotel, you can really use that to your advantage as well”. — Remco Schut, Key Account Manager at Hotelchamp

If you’re focussing on family travellers and business travellers, these personas have identifying features for creating a personalised message, plus they often have different influences that lead them to choose the same hotel. For example, interconnecting rooms for families, close to the city for business travellers. For conversational copywriting, you need a clear understanding of your customers personas, as well their motivation behind staying with you. Use this information to shape your personalised messaging on your website.

Family personalisation example of conversational copywriting

5. Use social proof and collect review quotes

On sites like TripAdvisor, hoteliers can search reviews for terms such as ‘family’ or ‘cleanliness’ to get an understanding of what they should highlight or provide more information on. This search function also allows you to find reviews that you can quote on your website to emphasise your messaging. A review quote that mentions your exceptional service is more powerful than just saying you have good service. Having an actual customer review to back this up adds more credibility.

If you find similar themes in your reviews, use social proof tactics and review snippets to highlight this. For example, the comfort of the beds, extra services that are offered to guests, quality of the breakfast.

Review quotes for conversational copywriting

6. Adjust and re-focus if you need to

Once you have a good understanding of your guests, what they say about you and what makes your hotel unique, you might find similar themes appearing. For example, price-quality, good public transport connections, comfortable beds etc. As Nadine noted, often these things can be missing from a hotel’s website. If customers care enough about these to mention them in a review, make sure you use this on your website. This can help potential guests with their decision making. Conversational copywriting is a great way to reposition what you learn from your reviews and build on this. Reviews can often have a whole different focus from the hotel website. Practically, this might look like updating your hotel’s unique selling points (USPs) or adjusting your direct booking benefits (do you give guests a free welcome drink that you don’t mention on your website?).

Conversational copywriting is a great tool for hoteliers to use. Taking a closer look at what your guests are saying, and using this to provide the right information at the right time to your potential guests is a winning strategy for hotels. Our team can help you to build a new conversational copywriting strategy to help you increase your direct bookings. Contact us at welcome@hotelchamp.com to get started.

Sep 21, 2020
Trends and Insights
Written by
Victoria Sweeney