Successful hotels and resorts are designed to offer their guests a memorable experience. To make each guest feel special, they put a lot of thought and energy into every detail from the architecture, room décor and bedding to the restaurant menu and the spa’s aromatherapy. These hotels aren’t just renting a room where someone can sleep, they create the anticipation of a luxurious carefree stay away from the daily grind. When it comes to marketing, it is equally important to align your focus on the guest as well as the experience. One-to-one marketing, which is defined as the ability to communicate in a personal, relevant manner with customers and prospects, has become the hoteliers’ best way to achieve that goal while capturing the attention of the highly solicited “always addressable customer” in our 24/7 on-demand economy.
With one-to-one marketing, hoteliers can leverage Big Data to know exactly who they’re communicating with, how to communicate with them, when to communicate, and what to say - whether it’s through marketing automation or face-to-face interactions. While it might sound intimidating, it’s a lot easier than you think. Here are five simple examples that your marketing team can implement to start making a difference.
1. Personalized Pre-Stay Emails
Marketing to your best guests means making them feel welcome before they’ve even stepped foot on your property. We work with our hotel clients to send guests a personalized email approximately 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival. In that email, we refer to the guest by name and include dynamic content based on their profile. Pre-arrival emails also typically include events going on at the hotel/resort during that guest’s stay, whether it’s a special wine tasting at the restaurant or a trunk show at an on-site boutique. For example, guests traveling with children will receive an email with a picture of a family at the resort and include information about activities families can enjoy while on property.
In a different pre-arrival email for Hotel Del Coronado shown above, the guest is traveling with a romantic partner, so we included the “Romantic Spa & Beach Bonfire” storyboard, which details a couple’s massage and beach picnic package that the guest can order directly from their email.
We also make these emails seasonally specific – guests arriving in the Northeast in winter will receive recommendations about nearby skiing or other snow activities. Along with making the guest feel special, these emails inspire the recipients to begin planning their own on-site experiences, often leading to enhanced revenue through restaurant and activity reservations.
2. Pre-Arrival Surveys
In addition to the pre-arrival email, we also work with hotels and resorts to provide guests with pre-arrival surveys. These allow the guests to share their specific preferences and expectations with the property, including information about the nature of their stay (if they are traveling alone, with family or on business), what on-property activities they are most interested in, and their intended method of arrival among other considerations. This approach shows the guest that the hotel cares about them as an individual while simultaneously providing the hotel/resort with the information they need to customize that guest’s experience. A client that feels well cared for before even arriving onsite is a guest already being groomed for repeat visits, brand loyalty, and best of all, advocating that positive experience to their friends, family and colleagues.
3. Arrival Reports & Front Desk Interactions
Your email marketing efforts may fall flat if that level of individual care and concern is not continued at the property level through one-on-one interactions. Naturally, this begins at the front desk. Instead of greeting a VIP guest with the cringe-inducing question “Have you ever stayed with us before?”, hotels can use arrival reports to recognize that guest immediately and greet them with a more appropriate welcome, such as “Welcome back, Mr. Smith. I see it’s been three months since we’ve last seen you. Would you like the same room you stayed in during your last visit?”
The arrival report will list all of the guests set to arrive that day, including their photo, VIP level status and other personal information your front desk staff can utilize to let the guest know they are a valued client and not just another body in a room. This method also works to ensure consistency across your entire brand. Perhaps Mr. Smith hasn’t stayed at your New York City hotel but he has stayed at your London property. The arrival report would include that information as well any other relevant notes such as any previous issues and how they were resolved.
4. Post-Departure Re-Engagement
When the guest leaves your property, the last thing you want them to do is forget about their stay. Cendyn/ONE’s post-departure re-engagement strategy includes personalized follow-up emails 30, 60 and 90 days out from that guest’s stay. These emails are 100% focused on reminding the guest of the amazing time they had your hotel and do not contain any special offers. You read that correctly. There are no book now buttons or “Come back and receive 30% off” deals. Instead, these emails are designed for top-of-mind marketing that reminds guests about the best aspects of your hotel. Perhaps it’s a tip from the Spa about creating at-home facial masks similar to one offered on property, or an appetizer recipe from your restaurant’s Executive Chef. Maybe it’s a link to the web cam so your guest can see what’s currently going on at the resort. By providing value without a sales pitch, you’re actively working towards a long-term relationship with that guest.
5. Stay-Based Loyalty Programs
To further nurture guest loyalty and encourage repeat visits, Cendyn/ONE utilizes our data-driven guest profiles to help hotels and resorts create their own branded loyalty programs
. Previous guests receive sequential emails letting them know when they qualify for inclusion as well as the exclusive perks and benefits of being a member. The benefits themselves can also be determined by the perks your best guest is most interested in, whether it’s free stays and automatic upgrades or special discounts on spa, golf and on-site dining. By creating a loyalty program designed with your guests in mind, you provide an even greater incentive for long-term clients to continue coming back.
With contributions of Ben James and Allison Goldstein
Editorial guidance by Allison Goldstein