‘The OTAs know more about your guests than you do.’ It’s a harsh comment but one that rings true for many. By compiling data and learning guest behavior over time using a central guest profile, OTAs have a competitive advantage over hotels in this field. This type of powerful data aids in marketing, advertising, and product progression plans. The OTAs have mastered its use but it’s time for hoteliers to join the party too.
By providing a seamless booking process, loyalty schemes and targeted marketing advertising campaigns, OTAs have got it sussed when it comes to engaging with customers, but hoteliers can too and it doesn’t require using all your marketing budget to do it. By using the data you already have from each guest profile, hoteliers can learn about their guests’ behavior and engage with them in the right way, using the right tools throughout the travel journey.
So, how can you create a robust guest profile?
1. GET THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS
Get their personal email address either at the front desk or before arrival via an online form sent via email. Using their temporary OTA email address, reach out to your guests and offer them an incentive to share with you their personal, direct email address.
2. INTEGRATE YOUR RESERVATION DATA INTO A CRM PLATFORM
By pulling your PMS data into one consolidated platform, you have the ability to use this data, intertwined with marketing data collected over time.
3. COLLECT ADDITIONAL BOOKING DATA
Up-sell to your guests prior to arrival and alongside this, store the data in one central place to track their behavior. What’s their favorite restaurant? Do they always like Champagne on arrival?
4. COLLATE GUEST FEEDBACK
Not only does this improve your performance as a hotelier and a business as a whole, it’s important to see and understand what matters to each guest. This data can be stored and referred back to when that guest books again. Use it to your advantage.
5. KEEP TRACK OF EMAIL MARKETING ENGAGEMENT
Engagement data is an important way to track how a guest perceives your brand. By tracking your email marketing campaigns, you can see how that guest has interacted with your promotional material and therefore how they wish to interact with you in their personal time.
So now you have a guest profile, how do you use it?
1. SET UP MARKETING AUTOMATION
Using reservation and behavioral data, automated emails can be set up following a booking to target specific types of guests. Hoteliers can engage with their guests in an effective and efficient way that improves brand perception, provides a personal experience and drives engagement with each guest. Of online consumers, 69% agree that the quality, timing, or relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand. With this in mind, we suggest segmenting automated emails based on the type of reservation, type of booking, the location of traveler and no./type of guests in their party. Once segmented, these automated emails can be set up and sent at specific times throughout the travel journey – we’ve touched on what timings are proven to be successful before – as a reminder about their upcoming stay, providing up-sell opportunities, allowing the guest to plan their stay or even check-in online.
2. PROVIDE UP-SELL OPPORTUNITIES THAT ARE TAILORED FOR EACH GUEST
Based on reservation data, a great way to encourage engagement prior to arrival is to provide a platform for guests to research their travel destination, make activity or restaurant bookings, learn about the surrounding area and tailor their trip to their needs. This can either be via the hotel website or through a separate platform. With Guestfolio, each up-sell platform (Mobile Concierge) can be uniquely tailored to share information relevant to that guest – for example, ‘The best restaurants for kids’ if that guest is traveling with children.
3. REQUEST FEEDBACK AND SEND REMINDERS
If a guest hasn’t completed their online survey or shared a TripAdvisor review, send a reminder to that guest. This can not only improve survey completion rates but also increase review volume online and therefore influence TripAdvisor ranking.
4. TAILOR YOUR EMAIL MARKETING EFFORTS
It’s so easy to draft a campaign and just hit ‘SEND ALL’ to your entire database. Some people will click through, a small portion may then book but you’ll find that over 95% of recipients may not even open the email at all. So why not try a different approach? With all the data you’ve collected from your guests, we suggest using some of it to tailor your promotional communications to each guest. According to research, campaigns that are sent to segmented lists and contain relevant information can achieve up to a 760% increase in revenue. Remember, your email automation and email marketing efforts are all an extension of your brand and therefore affect how a customer or guest perceives your brand. The more relevant and personal the message, the better the perception from the recipient.
We can see now more than ever that it’s not just about providing the best customer experience it’s about how you win, engage and hold on to customers in a competitive and crowded landscape. By targeting guests in the right way, using the right tools and ideas, hotels can keep up with OTAs in how they engage with their guests, not by draining their budgets by competing with the OTAs but simply by understanding their guests’ behavior and acting on it in the right way.