Personalize the Guest Experience in 5 Steps
The average guest is bombarded with thousands of marketing messages each day. To break through the noise, hoteliers need to personalize their marketing and guest experience.
Guests these days expect personalization. Seventy Eight percent of consumers say they prefer personalization, and 61% say they’re even willing to give up a degree of privacy to enable personalization on a continuous basis.
Additionally, hoteliers who are not yet personalizing their guest experience and communications are leaving money on the table. Personalized emails generate up to six times higher revenue per email than non-personalized emails, according to a 2013 study by Experian Marketing Services.
In today’s on-demand, highly digital world, personalization can be defined by several tactical components. However, the most widely accepted definition is an organization’s ability to give the right customer the right thing at the right time.
So how can hotels, regardless of size, effectively deliver personalized communications to a database of hundreds or even thousands of guests? These five steps can help.
1. Combine online and CRM data
An easy method of personalization (and eventually a higher ROI on CRM) begins by matching a current CRM system or email data with data collected online, from all public social media channels. Several tools on the market allow plug-and-play options to sync such data, and this capability is well worth the investment.
Of course, the more data a business has, the harder it becomes to interpret that data with the precision required for highly personalized communications. Thus, for any personalized messaging campaign to be successful, data gathering and interpretation must be the first step.
By marrying traditional hotel datasets with more of the available pieces of data, such as data discovered from social media profiles, email addresses can be transformed into guest profiles. Rather than just an email, you see records of real people with lives and jobs, families and friends, interests, and passions. Harnessing that magnitude of customer insight allows hotel marketers to trigger communications when guests’ interests most intersect with specific marketing campaigns.
2. Learn guests’ personal preferences via social behaviors
Social data provides hotel marketers with unprecedented insight into their guests’ lives, subsequently creating an abundance of opportunities for personalization that reach far beyond traditional guest satisfaction surveys.
What’s great about social data for hotels is that it presents the ability to analyze, in real time, what a customer thinks, feels, and cares about, by simply “listening” to their online conversations, and then reacting with predetermined triggers.
Many hotels face frustrations with customer analytics initiatives, but these don’t end with the collection of data. It can also be difficult to interpret and use large sets of data.
Much as how we learned to interpret email metrics and click worthiness over the past few decades, now is the time to achieve the similar outcomes with social networks. As a medium now foundational to the majority of consumers, social media has unique, authentic insight through mentions, positive and negative comments, brand and product engagement, and real-time conversations.
3: Create custom audiences for targeting
Once you’re able to effectively collect social data, you’re likely to discover trends, categories, and opportunities that may not have been available solely from email and CRM data. Use that information to create new “categories” and to segment your list into custom audiences. By doing so, you’ll be able to create marketing messages highly specific to those unique groups of guests.
For example, insight into social data may uncover a market opportunity for a niche segment such as “men who have children and like beer.” Your hotel could target this audience specifically for a Fathers’ Day craft beer event on your property.
Would you have identified “men who have children and like beer” via metrics like email open rates? Probably not.
4: Deliver personalization with newfound guest knowledge
Ever since hotel marketing emerged as a profession, its challenge has been to influence purchase by delivering the right message, to the right guest, at the right time.
With the latest breed of marketing automation tools, hotels are beginning to learn how to routinely address marketing opportunities uncovered by data. Social automation, triggered emails, and even social advertising all allow hotel marketers to have the ideal, perfectly tailored message ready to go as soon as guests mention a brand or keyword, open an email, or display interest of any kind.
Once a custom audience is created and you have a better understanding of the “categories” your guests fall into, you’ll need to create the messages you want delivered to those guests (with the understanding that categories and messages may evolve over time).
Tailored messages can include anything from an encouraging promotion for particular amenities based on a guest’s interests, to a cross-sell on a service, to a pre-stay room upgrade.
Once those messages are pre-created, you’ve almost reached real-time response capabilities. So what comes next?
Once you’ve created your campaigns, then step 5 involves the automated send button. Using your newfound knowledge about your guests and influencers on social media, your next task is to set up the processes or rules for automating the sending of those messages. Automation allows you to deliver personalized marketing messages at exactly the right moment in the guest journey, which increases the likelihood of sale or conversion.
What are you waiting for?
This task can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be much work at all. A marketing automation and guest engagement platform like inGuest can plug into your existing systems like your POS, PMS, GSS, etc. It can also find additional guest information from publicly available social profiles and marry multiple data points to deliver the valuable insights that previously took thousands of hours and dollars to uncover. Data analytics and marketing automation solutions have made it more possible and much easier to send personalized marketing messages.