As multi-faceted businesses, hotels have many aspects to be carefully managed in order to provide the customer with a consistently positive experience.
This includes both the online and offline, and hotels must endeavour to go the extra mile whilst interacting with customers online, getting to know them and understand their behaviour as they would their offline regulars.
Hotels will use a variety of systems to manage their bookings and customer needs. This typically includes a different system for each area of the business to be booked: the spa, the restaurant and the rooms.
In the same way that businesses in other sectors must draw upon the information they collect from their customers, so too must hoteliers.
Each booking offers a wealth of data, from the more simple (name and postal address) to the more in-depth (spend level, interests and purpose of stay). No matter the size of the business nor the capabilities of the systems in place, this data should not go to waste.
Bringing the data together
For hotels that adopt a resort-based system such as Opera, all gathered booking information can be held in one place. Due to the high investment cost of systems like this, a large proportion of hotels opt to use separate systems, but email service providers with the know-how and capabilities can bring these systems together to overlay the information and begin to build detailed customer profiles for personalised communications.
Dynamic campaigns for hotels
The vast amount of data that hotels can collect means they can look closely at customer behaviour and begin to personalise their email marketing to better appeal to their interests.
Similar to the way retail businesses are able to improve the customer experience through the use of dynamic content in triggered emails, there are ways of using dynamic content in email marketing that will particularly suit the hotel industry.
Some of the key dynamic campaigns you could be using:
Type of stay
By segmenting your data based on the type of stay (say business, leisure and family), you’ll begin to identify the different ways in which you communicate with key customer types. Once you’ve begun speaking differently to each guest type, you’ll uncover the best ways to segment further.
Using the postcode data collected from your bookings, you could choose to identify your local customers in order to make the most of their close proximity to the business. Send your local customers last minute offers to fill spa or restaurant deals, boosting bookings.
Pre and post-stay
On the surface, pre and post-stay campaigns may appear to be simple ‘welcome’ and ‘thank you’ messages but they offer a fantastic opportunity to build the relationship with the customer whilst increasing secondary spend.
Triggered messages based around a fixed date, they are sent to your guests before they arrive and after checkout, providing the opportunity to upsell and cross-sell products and services, thus increasing margin-rich secondary spend.
Using the data you collect you can tailor each message to their booking, behaviour history and their interests. First, look at the booking that’s been made. Did they walk into reception, call, book online direct or come through an online travel agent (OTA)?
If the guest booked through an OTA, although positive that the hotel is gaining online visibility and bookings through this channel, they may have sacrificed up to 20% of their profit margin. In order to continue working with OTAs, who offer increased visibility through online listings, hotels must ensure they don’t undercut their prices.
Pre-stay emails offer ways to recoup these losses by upselling and cross-selling additional upgrades, whilst post-stay messages provide a channel for continuing the conversation, gaining valuable feedback and encouraging direct bookings.
Take the time to consider what might make your guests’ stay more special in order to effectively boost spend.
You wouldn’t sell meals to a dinner bed and breakfast guest in person, and you shouldn’t over email. However, you could encourage other items such as spa treatments or champagne in the room to make their stay even more memorable.
Take the offline conversation online and consider what additions each guest may appreciate. Encourage room only guests to upgrade to take breakfast, or bed and breakfast customers to book dinner using pre-stay emails.
In a similar way to retail businesses, hotels can use the wealth of information gathered through necessity to begin organising and understanding their data.
Hotels will often use multiple systems, and though it may at first appear complicated, these pools of data can be brought together to lead to detailed customer profiles and work streams, ultimately leading to personalised, relevant content and cared-for customers.
These varieties of dynamic campaigns help hotels to go the extra mile for their customers, gaining repeat business, growth in direct bookings and ultimately increasing revenue.