How well do you know your guests?

Posted by: Stafford Sumner


Let me tell you a story.

Last year I booked us and our dog, Henry, into one of our favourite hotels. It’s a place we’ve stayed before and a place we’ll stay again. Here’s why…

This place is on the coast and is easily accessible for a weekend break and a treat for all of us. For us it’s the chance for a bit of R’n’R and for Henry it’s a chance to be spoilt rotten by the hotel staff. The reason we always come back to this particular place is they know us so well and it’s the small details which, when added together, have a big impact.

Little things like pulling up and being greeted by a member of the hotel’s team who knows our names, who knows Henry and already has a cheeky biscuit ready for him. Walking in and being greeted by a smiling face behind reception who is already getting a drink for us and then entering the room and having handwritten notes (one for us, and one for Henry!) from the manager wishing us a pleasant stay.

All these things add up and they help give us an experience and a break we love, so much so that it’s our go-to weekend escape. In taking the effort to get to know us, the hotel gives us a stay that’s unique and personal.

And this is something every hotel, know matter how big or small, should make the effort to do. Now of course, it’s not always going to be possible to replicate the niche level of service we received at the aforementioned hotel, but the more you know about your guests and the better you understand them, the more successful your hotel will be.

Delivering the right message

So how does this relate to email marketing? The first step is to understand your customers, their preferences and their behaviours.

This is why having a good data collection process is vital. It’s this type of data we call ‘primary data’ and it’s everything you hold on your internal databases from contact details to package types and dates of stay. Primary data allows us to understand your customers, while your secondary data, information from systems such as Google Analytics, allows us to understand how they interact with your business.

It’s not necessarily the quantity of the data that matters, what’s far more important is the quality. Let’s start by answering these questions:

  • Apart from basic information, how much do you know about your customers? Do you know how often they buy? Who your best customers are? How much each customer is worth to you?
  • Where is your data stored? Is it in the back end of your website or an external CRM? Is it easy for you to integrate it with your marketing channels?
  • How is it updated? Is everything automated and in real time or do you rely on manual processes?
  • How useable is the data? Do you have the information you need to send targeted, relevant and personalised communication to your customers?

The last point is the crux of being able to use your data more effectively. The best email marketing campaigns are the ones where the right message is delivered to the right person, at the right time and through the right channel. Without useable primary data it’s impossible to do this. And without understanding the secondary data, we don’t know if we’re using the right channel, at the right time.

Once you’ve done the work to understand your customers then it’s imperative to grow your understanding of how they interact with you to know what messaging to send and how to best communicate with them.

Imagine an email arriving in your inbox at the same time an email from the same hotel arrives in your friend’s inbox. You have both stayed before, but the content is different, why? Using dynamic content, and by referencing the data held about each of you, the hotel can promote different content of interest to you based on your preferences and past behaviour.

For example, if you stayed on a family break, it’s safe to assume you have a family and you might be interested in other family packages, particularly during school holidays. Now your friend, who stayed at the same property, was on a corporate package, so they will be interested in services relevant to business guests, such as express check-in/ out, gym opening times and the business centre.

When we use dynamic content for the hotels we work with, the open rate and click through rate are both double what they would be for a standard campaign. This in turns tends to leads to more bookings and conversions.

So how well do you know your guests? We want to help you build up this insight so you can deliver the right message to the right people at the right time in order to turn your data into sales.

We help hotels send better emails. Are you one of them?

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About the author

Stafford Sumner

An expert in developing businesses through data-driven marketing, Stafford founded Jarrang in 2003. “I’ve worked with many organisations, helping them grow while enabling them to fundamentally shift the way they operate their sales and marketing processes for the better.”