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Travel and hospitality business: more services with geolocation


In the travel and hospitality business, all customer journeys begin with a physical destination. Therefore, "being on the map" is more than a reputational challenge for hotels, theme parks, and the transportation, tourism and travel industries. Hospitality professionals need geolocation tools to differentiate themselves in a phygital world, improve their conversion rates and enhance their customers' experience. M'Barka Mouro, Head of Sales and Partnerships at Woosmap, explains how to build effective geolocation strategies in the travel and hospitality sector and improve customer satisfaction.

What role does geolocation play in the hospitality business?

The destination search engine is the first step in the customer's journey towards choosing a destination and a package of services. There are therefore many uses for geolocation in the hospitality business, for players in the travel, hotel and leisure services sectors. Let’s also not forget the restaurant services integrated by many large hotel chains.

All these players have to promote to their customers a catalogue of destinations and services that are the equivalent of a product catalogue in eCommerce. And all of them are ultimately competing to convince a customer to come and live a leisure, well-being, entertainment or work experience with them. Or a little of all of this at once for "bleisure travel" (business travellers and digital nomads who want to combine business and leisure).

This is why leading players such as Carrefour Voyages and Accor Hotels ( use Woosmap’s API and maps. The result: an increase in the conversion rate by using geolocation to personalise the customer journey.

How can hospitality use geolocation at all stages of the customer journey?

The first step, "collecting the destination choice", is crucial to engage customers in the sales funnel.
That's why an intelligent search engine is the core of a tour operator's or hotelier's marketing strategy. Intelligent means that this search engine is tuned to the catalogue it promotes. For example, a traveller looking for a flight and hotel to Paris is probably looking first for "Paris, France" and not "Paris, Texas". Rather than recording and spewing a standard location result, it is better to anticipate a specific destination.

The second step is to provide a decision-making tool in the form of a map display of offers. Because in eCommerce "too much choice kills choice". A consumer may feel distressed when faced with too many options, or even paralysed and interrupt the buying process. Even if they don't abandon their "shopping cart" and complete their purchase, they may also feel anxious about having made the wrong choice. And consequently, feel less satisfied.

This behaviour is described in the book "The paradox of choice. Why more is less" by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. It has influenced the major eCommerce and audio-video streaming platforms. They have therefore built "curation" teams (selecting and highlighting content) to help customers explore their catalogues.

You talk about reassuring the consumer. What do geolocation and maps bring to this field?

In the Hospitality sector, a clear, simple map adapted to the needs of the consumer is precisely a curation and reassurance format.

Reassurance is the third step in the customer journey on a travel or holiday booking site.

This mapping must provide numerous selection and filtering options. According to prices, services, characteristics of the goods, and the proximity with places of interest nearby. For example, a business or leisure traveller will need to sort through a selection of hotels showing the availability of amenities (Wi-Fi, broadband internet, meeting rooms, a real desk to work at). They will also be looking for the best compromise, based on the proximity of a train station/airport, their business meeting locations and tourist attractions.

An iconic example is the Airbnb map. This simple and readable map is a model of UX (User Experience). It has then inspired other players in the travel, hotel and, more broadly, eCommerce sectors to build their maps.

After the purchase, what benefits does geolocation bring to customers?

The fourth stage of the journey on a hospitality website or app is the "post-purchase". Just after the click for a hotel or travel booking, the service has not yet been "consumed". But the customers are already engaged in a commercial relationship. The brand's communications are already part of their experience and influence their satisfaction until the service is consumed. And even beyond.

Geolocation therefore also has a role to play in accompanying customers from the click to the hotel or the restaurant table. For example, after the reservation, with the sending by email of a "destination" summary accompanied by a map. Because the customer may need help to get to the place, calculate an itinerary, its carbon impact (an important factor for eco-responsible tourists). The brand can also suggest activities according to the customer's profile.

Analysts believe that by 2033 travellers will want to be even more informed about their plans, possible risks and their consequences. 68% of travellers already seek to avoid uncertain or ambiguous situations. They, therefore, prefer offers with clear choices and seek to avoid risks. The information and maps provided at the time of booking serve to clarify these doubts. Source: Northstar global study for Amadeus "Traveler tribes 2033" (February 2023).


What can be improved in geolocation services for the hospitality business?

With geolocation, it is possible to improve the guest experience on-site and the search experience online. The idea is to create value by improving the user experience and saving customers time. For example, in the hotel sector, 70% of customers are in favour of using technology if it speeds up the service (Zebra Technologies study).

For instance, a hotel chain can take inspiration from other sectors that streamline their user experience and simplify the purchasing process. I'm thinking of the fast food industry, which has adopted self-service kiosk sales and ordering applications. Large fast-food chains can initiate the preparation of an order when they detect the customer's mobile phone in a geofence (a virtual perimeter using GPS data) near the restaurant. This service works with the explicit consent of the consumer in his or her order-taking application.

Similarly, a hotelier can use the geolocation built into his application to detect the arrival of a customer with GPS. It can then provide a digital hotel room key to speed up check-in and check-out or book an appointment at the spa.

These examples go beyond a simple integration of geolocation technologies and APIs. It is about inventing new services adapted to customers' needs. Therefore Woosmap also assists hospitality players in their digital transformation. For example, to integrate reservation, access, payment and customer relationship processes in order to provide new smooth services.

Virtual experiences are among the future evolutions in the hospitality sector. What impact do you anticipate from this technology?

In fact, industry analysts believe that the tourism of the future will rely more on Augmented Reality than on totally virtual worlds such as the "metaverse". Mapping is a key element of augmented reality.

Thus 51% of travellers questioned in the Amadeus study on travel in 2033 expect to use Virtual Reality to plan their trips. And 45% expect to use augmented reality content. For example, to check out the layout of a hotel room or take a virtual pre-tour of an attraction.

They are in fact seeking to reduce the stress of preparing for their travel. According to behavioural theory, consumers are 'loss averse'. This FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is exacerbated in a holiday planning context.

Augmented Reality is also coming to the hospitality business to better inform on site. We already see opportunities around indoor mapping: mapping inside buildings and private areas. 

What strategies are possible with indoor mapping in the hospitality sector?

Indoor mapping enables to guide between different areas of a resort or different floors of a hotel. The most profitable resorts, with the best occupancy rates, are in fact the largest establishments (JLL study 2019). This size makes it more difficult for customers to move around. But it also allows for the profitability of facilities such as swimming pools, golf courses, spas and restaurants.

Woosmap can therefore help hotels to develop their indoor mapping. We can work from hotel floor plans, digitise them and then add useful information. Like the location of car parks, electric vehicle recharging points and shops. Indoor mapping can also provide additional information at the time of room selection, in the booking process. Such as the precise location and layout of a room as well as the view from the balcony.

This strategy is also of interest to stadiums and arenas that are developing the fan experience with applications. For example: to view one's seat in the stadium, order food remotely from an app and be directed to the nearest refreshment area. The customer benefit: saving time and not missing out on game action while queuing.


What solutions does Woosmap offer to the hospitality business?

Woosmap offers a unique combination of geolocation APIs and SDKs. They are based on our own data sourcing, without collecting personal data. Hospitality companies can use our locators to deploy new solutions while controlling their budget.

Our destination search engine supports auto-completion, to speed up the filling of search fields. It can be customised with our clients' internal hospitality data. In particular, it can suggest search results based on the reservations or destinations with the best conversion rate.

For example, on a "Paris" search, it may be relevant to bring up "Disneyland Paris" in the results. According to distance criteria, the park is more than 40 km from the centre of Paris. But according to commercial criteria, 10% of foreign tourists in France visit Disneyland Paris (2017 data via Protourisme).

Woosmap also offers a decision-making tool. With the display of search results on a smooth and customisable cartography (logo, details on the selected places, indoor and outdoor).

Our API also provides real-time route calculation to better sort the options offered to travellers. This sorting uses distance calculations by road (or by boat for island destinations like Singapore). We do not recommend the "as the crow flies" calculation as it leads to many errors. For example, hotels on an island would be close in distance but inaccessible by car.

Finally, for "post-sale" Woosmap hospitality data can be integrated into a "travel assistant" service or application. For example, itinerary calculations or personalised cartography. This technology can fuel strategies to improve the user experience in the hospitality business, strengthen brand differentiation and support loyalty.

Do you want to integrate geolocation into your travel & hospitality journey? Open your free Woosmap account today.