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Knowing your guest – building an ideal customer profile

Brand Strategy, Branding

We all want to connect with the right people and provide service for those who need our help the most. But how to really know who those people are, where to look for them and, most of all, how to attract them? Building your ideal guest profile can be helpful.

To grow a strong travel/hospitality brand, you need to know your audience really well. Finding out whom you talk to is crucial to understanding how to build your communication and how to shape your travel offer to fulfil their needs.

Marketers use ideal customer profile (ICP) to make sure their message gets to the right people. They know that creating such a characteristic can save a lot of money and time. In the travel and hospitality business, we care of spending our budget wisely, don’t we?

A couple of years ago I didn’t know anything about business but I wanted to build a list of returning clients. I was struggling to get attention simply just because I didn’t know who I’m talking to. At the same time, I didn’t know what these people need and where to look for them. I ended up working with clients who didn’t understand my way of work, weren’t open to dialogue and expected things that I couldn’t provide.

I quickly understood that I’m addressing my offer to everyone and at the same time to no one. It cost me a lot of time, frustration and rejection. I learned my lesson and I quickly decided to take a step back and take a closer look at my business, my expectations and the service I provide. I decided to choose a group of people I want to work with and create an offer that reflects their needs and solve their problems.

It didn’t only help me to understand them, but also made me understand my own business and allowed me to set up long-term goals.

What is an ideal guest profile?

Simply saying is the representation of the people who would benefit from your service. Ideally, this’s a model of characters that you would like to welcome at your guest house, guide through busy streets of your city or prepare an amazing food experience for them. The ones who share your values and appreciate your effort.

Imagine you are running a small boutique hotel surrounded by nature. Every year you welcome many guests. They stay at your place, eat your homemade food. Some people come for a couple of days and never return.

But there are few who come back every season and bring along new friends. You have a great chat with them, they appreciate your opinion and trust you when you say where to go and what to see in the region.

After a while, you know more details about them. Their favorite color and activities, so you try to please them even more. You also learn that when they plan their next holidays, they have problems finding a sitter for their 4-leg friends. Therefore, you encourage them to bring their pets along to make the holidays stress-free.

Your client can plan vacations and save some money on pet sitting. They recommend your hotel to friends who struggle with the same issue. And you’re starting to notice that your guests fit a similar pattern. Just because you created a place where people who value the same thing feel at home.

This happened because you spent time reflecting on who your ideal guest is and look beyond the time they spend at your hotel.

Read also: Customer experience trends for travel/hospitality brands

Why a small group is better than thousands of random people?

In marketing, a smaller target group means better focus and better results.

For some people, addressing small groups rather than go broader seems pointless. But it’s proven that narrowing the audience helps to understand them better, address their pain point more accurately and create a stronger emotional connection. For a small travel business, it can be crucial and help to differentiate it from the competitors.

Start Finding your ideal guest from research

Many of us have a blurry idea who they want to serve and who can benefit from our service. But believe me, having everything written down can help you to stay more focused.

Start with writing down who can benefit from your travel offer and business. In the beginning, the range can be wider. Write down everything you have in your mind. You can start with simple demographics like sex, age, occupation, social status etc. Having a long list of these characteristics lets you find the common thread.

After you have all the details, dive even deeper. Use the internet to find out more statistics and reports about the tourism industry, social groups, and trends. That will help you to connect the dots.

Read also: How to deliver the best customer experience to your guests

Few questions to answer

To help you to put all the information in the frame, below you can find a few important questions you would like to answer yourself.

1. How old are they?
2. Are they mostly male or female?
3. Where do they live?

1. What’s their marital status?
2. What’s their financial situation?
3. Where do they work?
4. What’s their income?
5. What’s their educational level?

1. What’re their values?
2. What’re their fears and pain points?
3. What’s their personality and character?
4. How they interact with the environment and society?
5. What’re their lifestyle, passions and how they spend free time?
6. What’s their approach to a new experience?

Technology and media
1. Where do they find information?
2. What social media platforms do they use?
3. Do they share their experience on social media?

1. What relations they usually build with brands?
2. What do they look in brands and products?

The list can be even longer depending on your brand and products.

Read also: Generation Z – your new ideal guest

Ideal guest profile in brand identity

In my practice, before I even jump to designing a brand identity, I make sure I know everything I can about my client’s business. Many of them just start their first company and very often don’t know their ideal guest profile. Instead of focusing on a narrow group of people, they assume that their brand serves everyone. I quickly explain to them that narrowing the target group is crucial to creating a brand identity that will make people book your service.

Fear from narrowing this group is understandable, but after the first presentation where I explain the process of finding the ideal guest characteristics, they’re starting to understand why it’s so important.

Knowing IGP can benefit your business in so many ways – it helps you understand the strong and weak points of your offer, shape it in the way your audience will be able to relate to it, show them that you understand them, and make sure they realize how it will benefit their lives.

Want to learn more about building an ideal guest profile? Check out my coaching sessions or visit my Instagram profile.

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Hi, I'm Magda

Hi, I'm Magda

Brand Specialist

I believe small brands have the power to change the world. I want to provide all the tools they need to feel empowered, no matter what their budget is. After all, every brand deserves equal chances to become recognizable.

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