Engaging with Customers Beyond Their Stays

By Shayne Paddock Vice President of Product Development & Innovation, TravelClick | March 29, 2015

Getting engaged is a life-changing event. From December to February, couples around the world are knee deep in engagement season, according to a recent study. For hoteliers, engagement season isn't fleeting; rather it's a 24/7/365 courtship of continual communication via email, mobile messaging, social media interactions and review site monitoring sprinkled in. In years past, hotel marketers were focused on popping this question: "Will you give me your email address so I can send you a one-time reservation confirmation?" Today, the big question has changed: "Will you opt in to receive personalized communication from my hotel filled with relevant content before, during and long after your stay?"

Communication has, and always will be, the key to any lasting/loyal relationship. If you want guests to engage with your hotel, they need to be "courted." This requires knowing just the right thing to say and the right time to say it. The one-and-done days of sending out an email confirmation and then not speaking to the guest until they check in are over. To build loyalty and get guests eager to hear from you, a courtship must ensue between hotel marketers and their guests; that means learning about each person on the reservation and what he, she or they like and dislike along every step of the customer's journey (from the research phase, booking and pre stay, to onsite, post stay, and through incentives to get them to return).

Consider this: If dad is traveling on business and brings the family along; what is available for mom to do during the day with the kids? Are there activities that would appeal to children? What about adult activities for mom like spa services or golf lessons while the kids are being entertained? The only way to truly engage guests on their level -- and to make them willing to provide you with critical personal information -- is to speak to them as if you really know them intimately. But how and where do you begin?

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The first step is to do away with the tedious and time consuming manual eMarketing process and implement Hotel Marketing Automation practices. The most efficient hotels today are those that streamline marketing workflow processes via highly targeted and personalized email marketing, social media/website marketing, eSurveys, drip marketing campaigns and semantic analysis. When routine tasks are automated, it frees up time so staff can become more customer focused and service driven.

An Epic Engagement Story

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.