Hotel Housekeeping Tip: Don't Ignore Your Email Database

By Robert King General Manager, Travel & Hospitality, ClickSquared | March 06, 2011

Hospitality marketers are increasingly recognizing the importance of a cross-channel approach to guest communications –– orchestrating an ongoing guest dialogue across direct mail, email, mobile marketing and web. But in today's economy, prioritization of scarce marketing resources continues to be the key challenge. If we can't do everything right away (and all at once) what marketing channel offers the fastest and surest return on incremental marketing investment? Within a cross-channel framework, email is clearly the most effective guest communication tool in the hospitality marketers' toolbox.

Your email marketing database is (or should be) one of your hotel's most valuable assets. And just like maintaining the golf greens, beachfront, and guest rooms, thorough and ongoing maintenance of the marketing database is critical to a hotel's success. Not only does it need to be designed and built correctly, but it needs regular attention to ensure it is capable of supporting the right guest "experience".

In this article, I'll focus on the foundational building blocks of effective email marketing - list building and "housekeeping" maintenance - and how they can have a direct impact on campaign effectiveness.

Email Address Capture

When I'm asked (often) what the number one thing a hospitality organization can do to improve its email marketing effectiveness, the answer is simple – capture email addresses. While this may sound a bit simple, consider that it is not unusual to see hotel guest email capture rates ranging between 20-30%. Capture rates can be particularly low for hotels that have a larger component of travel agent/GDS bookings or substantial group business, where individual guest email addresses are generally not provided to the hotel in the booking process.

But rather than cede these guests to marketing anonymity, hotels need to get more creative in their email capture efforts. The front desk is generally the least disruptive and most successful point in the guest lifecycle to capture the guest's email. Email capture goal setting, reinforced by measurement, incentives and friendly inter-property competition (where applicable), can translate into meaningful improvement in email capture rates. Moreover, your marketing database can be easily be combined with basic look-up and reporting capabilities to equip the front desk team with the tools they need to focus, facilitate and measure email capture performance.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.