Header Icon
Header Icon

Emotional Journey Mapping – what is it and how you should do it

When figuring out the best way to build or boost your guest satisfaction in your hotel, following your guests on an emotional level is a crucial step. Despite emotions being known as a relative aspect, an emotional journey map provides a clear understanding and data of your guests’ feelings throughout their stay. Learn how to upgrade your customer journey map with this innovative technique.

What is an emotional journey map?

The emotional journey map is a UX research technique to visualise and map customers’ emotional experiences through their interactions during various actions of their stay.

It is an extension of the usual experience journey map that visualises the process that the guest goes through to accomplish a goal, but an emotional journey map gives this some more closure.

Simply said, it allows you to know how your guest feels at each touchpoint with you during their whole hotel experience.

The emotion can be represented by a graph from moments of frustration to delight or by adding pictograms or emoticons to the specific steps of the journey.

The goal of emotional journey mapping is to understand customers’ emotions and improve the quality of your guest experience, providing consistency and a smooth experience at all touchpoints on the journey.

Why do you need an emotional journey map?

An emotional journey map allows you to add another objective dimension to your customer journey map to see the emotions your customer goes through at every stage of the experience. This can help your team to make sense of and have a visual aid of the systems and learn to improve the quality of your guests’ touchpoints. An emotional map will increase your customer satisfaction, positive feedback and reviews, bookings and revenue.

It helps your hotel team to 

How to create an emotional journey map?

1. Create a user persona – to get started with creating the map we need a user. User persona will represent an average guest or one type of guest (if you would like to create a map for each customer group) of your property. Each user has different expectations and needs so it is good to be comprehensive and create multiple maps to understand different personas present on your property.

  • Draw a simple picture of your user.
  • Give them a name.
  • Make sure to specify who the user is.
  • Use the standard user story format: As a… I need… so I can

Example: As a young 32-year-old mother of 3 children…

2. Create a scenario – going forward we need a scenario that addresses their expectations and what they need to accomplish their end goal. The scenario could be about experiences with events, processes or objects. Use scenarios that are likely to happen or have already happened in your hotel.

Example: As a young 32-year-old mother of 3 children I need a hotel that has child care and entertainment facilities so I can relax and rest after a long work year without always taking care of the kids.

3. Goals and tasks – now it’s time to identify the goals and the tasks. Each journey has different goals with separate tasks.

A goal is a higher-level action the user needs to complete. For example, in this case, the mother wants to relax and rest from a long work year.

A task is a lower-level action the user needs to achieve the end goal. For example, in this case, a mother needs to find a hotel with childcare or entertainment opportunities.

‘Therefore, the mother has to complete the task of finding the right hotel to reach the goal of a relaxing holiday.


  • The customer journey is to go on a vacation with children.
  • The goal is to relax and not worry about the children 24/7.

Solution: in addition to entertainment facilities have a person who keeps an eye on the children, so the parents don’t have to at all times.

  • The task is to find a hotel that offers what the family needs.

Solution: market your hotel well and highlight all the facilities and experiences that you offer, so the possible customers have a clear image of your property as the right place to book.

Try to come up with 1-4 goals and 1-10 tasks per user persona.

4. Use contextual inquiry research and in-depth customer interviews to gain understanding and real data.

  • You aim to ask questions to better understand their world, the context and their experiences with your hotel.
  • In these discussions, you’ll also be asking the customers about their emotions connected to their experience to understand how and why they felt a certain way at each touchpoint, stage and interaction during their journey with you.
  • Listen actively and try to also get information out of analysing how they speak or what words they use to describe their experience.

5. Making sense of all the data

  • Use affinity clustering to organise all of your customer discussions, experiences, emotions, feelings, thoughts and customer actions according to their similarity, relevance and importance.
  • Have a team work through the data to form patterns.
  • Sort the conversations into clusters by customer journey stages, steps, thoughts and feelings during each interaction.
  • Themes emerge and this is when customer emotions are identified.

6. Connect the individual evaluation points based on the data to form a line.

  • Draw a line graph to illustrate the story of a person’s emotions throughout the different touchpoints and interactions. Do so for each different persona created. Use colours to distinguish them from each other.
  • Emoticons and an emotion graph show the customer’s highs and lows throughout the whole journey, from the beginning to the end.
  • Add customer’s words, sayings, and expressions to give closure to the perspective.

7. Analyse the journey and generate improvements.

  • Evaluate both, highs and lows to gain insight and understand the journey.
  • Bring out points and opportunities to improve the customer’s experience interacting with your property.

Keep in mind

  • Base your emotional journey map on research and not opinions.
  • Start small and be efficient.
  • Identify and focus on what is the most important.
  • Embed it into your organisation and engage the whole team to lean into it.
  • It has to be organic and continuously evolve.

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam!

Related articles