Guest communication plays a vital role in the experience your guests have with your hotel. Only communicating with guests when they are on-property is not enough. Rather, hoteliers need to send relevant, timely emails at every stage of the guest journey to improve the guest experience and stay top-of-mind. In this article, we will look at some examples to see how savvy hoteliers engage with guests before, during and after the stay.
Inspiration and Research
The initial stages of the guest journey are important for setting the stage for the trip. While you may not have the contact information of all prospective guests, use the data that you have on past guests to engage them and remind them why they should book with you.
Segmentation can work its magic during the inspiration and research phases so be proactive and target past guests during the same season they stayed with you last year. Inspire them to return to your hotel using campaigns such as we miss you, birthday, seasonal, holiday, flash sale, and more. Include special offers such as a ‘book direct’ promotion to incentivize recipients. In the above example, The Garland Hotel uses a $25 hotel credit to drive direct bookings.
At the booking stage, guests have reserved their stay and receive a transactional email that includes their booking confirmation or modification information. Transactional emails don’t have to be boring. Rather, use them to generate excitement for the upcoming stay. In the example above, The Scott Resort & Spa designed a beautiful confirmation email with all the necessary information about the hotel, as well as links to the restaurant/bar and spa, to drive reservations.
Whether they are new guests, loyal return guests, or VIP guests, leverage your PMS data to enhance the guest experience with personalized pre-arrival upsell emails. The purpose of a pre-arrival email is not only to prepare guests for their stay, but also to get them excited about it. In the example above, Colony Palms Hotel uses a pre-arrival upsell email with a well-priced offer to drive revenue.
Of all campaigns, pre-arrival emails see the highest engagement with a global CTR of 21.3%. To understand how much money you stand to make consider this fact: If your guests purchase three $50 upgrades daily, you will increase revenue by almost $57,000 a year. Regardless of the upgrade cost, you’re adding additional revenue without doing much extra work, and you’re creating more value in your guest’s stay.
You may think that when guests are on your property, your communication work is done. However, that’s a failing approach many hoteliers don’t realize is hurting the guest experience. On-property welcome emails, such as the one by Alta Peruvian, above, are designed to provide guests with important details such as management contact information, services and amenities, and any ‘need-to-know’ announcements.
Since on-property emails are sent the day of arrival, they set the tone of the stay. And with a 46% average open rate for Revinate Marketing customers, you have the power to ensure the guest’s stay is off to the best possible start. Include an exclusive hotel offer to keep guests on your property or promote events happening at your hotel, increasing your chances of generating ancillary revenue. To learn more about perfecting your on-property welcome emails, read our blog post.
Even after guests have left your property, the communication should not stop. Send a post-stay campaign after guests checks out to thank them and encourage them to return. If they are booked with an OTA, include a direct winback offer to entice them to book direct for their next stay. In the example above, Hotel on Rivington offered a 15% discount on the next stay.
Another smart strategy for post-stay emails is to include a post-stay survey, encouraging guests to leave feedback about their stay. These campaigns get an average 33% open rate and provide great opportunities to gather important feedback that you need to understand what guests love and where you should make improvements to your service and amenities.
Developing an email plan
The first rule for developing an email plan is to be proactive. Think through your approach for different holidays, annual events in your town and on your property, and other demand generators. When planning a campaign calendar, consider three situations:
Demand is the highest and availability is at its lowest. Fortunately, that means you can increase your rates. Moreover, marketing efforts don’t have to be spread across the board and discounts are unnecessary. Instead, turn your focus to your top spenders who are willing to pay top dollar for your rooms. Offer packages and upsells to easily grow ancillary revenue.
Demand is the lowest and vacancy is at its highest, so rates are naturally at their lowest. To counteract this drop in demand, focus your marketing efforts on painting a stress-free, quiet, and relaxing vacation for those within driving distance. Other methods to generate interest include steep discounts, flash sales, and irresistible incentives.
Shoulder season occurs in-between the high and low times. When demand, availability, and rates are consistent across the market, hoteliers need to hone in on their marketing efforts to drive interest. Use personalization options in email marketing during this time to ensure your guests feel special and understood. In addition to irresistible offers in your emails, include added value via relevant amenity upsells and room upgrades to drive bookings and ADR.
To help get you started, Revinate just launched the industry’s most comprehensive Email Marketing Strategy Guide. Download it here. Print it out, send it to all your colleagues – you don’t want to miss out!