Revinate
Revinate
Blog Articles

How to employ automation and personalization with a CDP across the guest journey

Last Updated: July 10, 2024|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |16.1 min read|

This article was originally developed and published for Hospitality Net’s Data and Business Intelligence Thematics. Read more here.

Hospitality marketing is a world in itself. You’re constantly running a mile a minute. The rush of creativity, the quick execution pace, and the flood of satisfaction when bookings flow in is enticing. But in the midst of all that energy and excitement, chances are you rarely have a moment to pause and reflect on the journey.

What if you found a way to gain extra time to complete tasks, contemplate ways to delight guests, AND crush your marketing goals of lifting revenue, hitting your upsell targets, and improving guest satisfaction scores?

Task automation. It isn’t novel. And yet done right it can be a game changer for you. What’s in it for you, you ask?

When you apply automation to personalize the guest journey, it means you’re getting the right message to the right guest at the right moment — all without lifting another finger after the set-up. Automated campaigns also perform better. Our 2023 Hospitality Benchmark Report shows that automated emails have a 1.5x higher conversion rate than one-time sends.

Ignoring personalization is a risk. According to McKinsey research, 71% of consumers expect companies to personalize their interactions, and 76% will feel frustrated with generic communication.

And perhaps most importantly, personalization has a direct impact on revenue. In the same report, McKinsey found that businesses who employ personalization can boost their revenue by 40%.

The good news is that you already have the data — in your PMS, your CRM, your messaging service, in call center notes, in guest surveys, and in your golf, restaurant, and spa systems — you just need the right technology to activate it.

This is where the value of a Customer Data Platform (CDP) comes in. A CDP can manage vast amounts of data by collecting, storing, and activating it in real time — making your life much easier. It allows you to create a comprehensive and unified view of your guests, so that you can segment your database and personalize marketing campaigns effectively.

In addition to collecting data from multiple channels, a CDP empowers you to activate that data across channels as well — email, voice, text messaging, you name it. Email marketing, however, is by far the most widely used channel for hotel marketers, and the one most ripe for automation. That’s where we’ll focus our examples today.

We’ll walk you through examples of automated email campaigns you can deploy with a CDP to personalize messaging throughout the guest journey — at inspiration and booking, pre-arrival, on-property, and post-stay. And yes, a CRM can automate some of these campaigns too — but not with the same depth of personalization due to the data insights available in the rich guest profile of a CDP.

What’s the difference between a CDP and a CRM? Glad you asked. Check out this resource from Hospitality Net’s Hotel Yearbook.

Each one of the campaigns below is “set it and forget it”, meaning that once you define the guest segments and the actions that trigger a campaign, they will keep rolling out automatically with no further effort from you. You’ll see that the direct bookings will keep rolling in.

Jump to the stages of the guest journey and campaigns that most interest you:

Booking and inspiration

Capturing your guests’ attention and inspiring them to imagine their stay with you is a crucial part of securing direct bookings. Every interaction is an opportunity to turn curiosity into commitment.

Capture guest emails and their intentions at website sign-up

The channels: Website and email

It’s safe to assume that guests land on your website because they’re curious about booking a stay with you. However, they might not be ready to pull the trigger. Maybe they haven’t finalized their travel dates, or they might be considering other options. But while they are on your website, you need to try to get their email addresses in order to entice them to book at a later time.

Here’s an example of how this would work. Jason, a frequent traveler, clicked into your website from a Google search on “horseback riding ranch hotel California”. He browses through gorgeous photos of horse trails and happy riders, but he’s still exploring his options. Before he closes the tab, you display a website abandonment pop-up asking to stay in touch for exciting promotions. Jason fills out his email, anticipating that he’ll receive more helpful info about your property and potential discounts and packages.

Not only do you have his email address, you also know what page he was visiting when he filled out the pop-up. Now you can use this information to drive interest.

Hotels can use website sign-up campaigns to drive direct bookings, get to know guests like Jason better, and ask for their details to send highly segmented emails. The more segment filters you can apply to an audience, the more you can tailor your messaging and the better your campaign will perform. Our 2024 Hospitality Benchmark Report data shows that emails with three or more segment filters generate 2.6x more revenue per recipient.

Have a look at the following campaign example from Napa Valley Wine Train – part of the Noble House Hotels & Resorts, and how they stay in touch with potential guests after they sign up on their website:

Subject line: You’re on the list!

Why we love this campaign: The campaign features stunning photos from the wine train that guests can look forward to. It also has a clear CTA where guests can book directly and view the different events and unique packages the property offers.

Web sign up email campaign by Noble House

Regain lost bookings with cart abandonment campaigns

The channels: Website and email

Jason took his time and explored his options. After receiving your hotel newsletter with enticing packages, he’s back and ready to make his booking. He proceeds to his cart, excited about his upcoming stay. But his phone rings — it’s his cousin, having car trouble. Jason closes his laptop to deal with it, abandoning his booking.

Distractions like this happen all the time (cousin or no), and it’s why shopping cart abandonment campaigns are a critical opportunity to recover lost revenue.

The hospitality industry’s cart abandonment rate is 80%. This means that out of every ten guests who start to reserve a stay, eight will leave the booking engine unfinished. Your guests, like Jason, can be brought back — but sometimes they need a little nudge to cross the finish line.

Re-engage potential guests by sending a gentle reminder email to prompt them to return and complete their booking, as Jason might have simply forgotten. Sometimes, offering a small incentive like a discount or an added perk can be the extra push needed to make them feel valued and ready to finalize their reservation. Additionally, personalize your communication to each guest’s preferences and behavior by addressing them by name and highlighting the specific room or package they showed interest in.

Check out this campaign example by Ovolo Hotels:

Subject line 1: Hey Jason, don’t leave us this way! (day of abandonment)

Subject line 2: Hey Jason, it’s not too late! (2 days later)

Why we love this campaign: Simple—yet it has everything one needs to proceed with their booking. In this campaign, Ovolo includes information about their guests’ future stay and all the perks they will enjoy during their visit.

Cart abandonment campaign by Ovolo Hotels

Bring guests back with cancellation recovery emails

The channels: Email

Jason’s booking went through – great! But another guest, Caroline, wants to cancel her stay. It happens. However, you might still be able to sway her decision, or get her to move her reservation to different dates. Use cancellation recovery emails to encourage guests like Caroline to rethink their cancellation, potentially turning a lost booking into a confirmed stay.

Need inspiration for a cancellation recovery campaign? Have a look at the following from The July.

Subject line: See you soon

Why we love this campaign: This cancellation recovery campaign is sent two days after a cancellation. The subject line is simple yet effective, serving as a gentle reminder and nudge to rebook. What stands out the most is the 15% discount they offer to encourage guests to complete their booking. This approach not only helps recover potential lost revenue, but also shows The July’s commitment to providing value.

Cancellation recovery campaign by The July

Pre-arrival

Ensuring a seamless and personalized experience for your guests begins long before they check in. Pre-arrival communication is a key opportunity to create anticipation and tailor their stay to their preferences.

Drive ancillary revenue and enhance the guest experience with upsells

The channels: email and text messaging

Upselling through email and text messaging (e.g. SMS or WhatsApp) presents a lucrative opportunity for hotels to boost revenue and enhance the guest experience.

To craft effective upsells, leverage a Customer Data Platform for centralized guest preferences and details, swiftly identifying ideal upsell opportunities based on past interests and motivations.

Guests value personalized experiences. According to research by Duetto, 1 in 5 consumers who expressed interest in personalized offers are willing to pay 20% more.

When presenting upsells, subtly gauge guest interest in potential upgrades and frame offers as exclusive enhancements to their stay. Accenture highlights that 91% of customers expect businesses to anticipate their needs, emphasizing the importance of tailored offers. Tailor your approach creatively to your property’s location and market, such as offering bike rentals in Amsterdam or business traveler amenities. This proactive strategy ensures guest satisfaction and meets their evolving expectations.

By sending customized upsell campaigns, hotels can generate significant incremental revenue, with food and beverage being the most popular category. According to our 2024 Hospitality Benchmark Report, upsell revenue from confirmation emails saw a significant 14.2% increase in 2023, rising from $73 (€67) to $83 (€76) per booking.

The Pontchartrain Hotel sent the following campaign 7 days before arrival as their upsell campaign:

Subject line: Upcoming Reservation

Why we love this campaign: Short but sweet. This campaign features some of the iconic spots of New Orleans, giving guests travel options without overwhelming them.

Pre-arrival upsell campaign by the Pontchartrain

Connect with a helpful note

The channels: email and text messaging

Establishing a personal connection with your guests is essential for making them feel welcome. Take the initiative to send Jason a personalized note, providing helpful details about his upcoming stay. Jason’s guest profile — thanks to the CDP — includes information from his past stays with other properties in the portfolio, including what amenities he took advantage of and surveys about his preferences. Use this data to automatically highlight similar upsells, such as local events and attractions to explore during his visit.

By including links to specific information on your website, such as your blog or calendar of events page, you both enhance the guest experience and also showcase the value of staying with you. This thoughtful gesture sets the tone for a memorable stay and reinforces your commitment to providing exceptional hospitality.

Cape Weligama sent the following warm note to their guests before their arrival:

Subject line: About your stay at Cape Weligama

Why we love this campaign: Cape Weligama took the time to get to know their guests and shared helpful information about the upcoming Buddhist full moon holiday, “Poya,” and what it means for their guests’ stay.

Pre-arrival note by Cape Weligama

On-property

Navigating the on-property stage of the guest journey involves continuing to engage guests with enticing offers and personalized experiences.

Continue to capture upsell opportunities

The channels: email and text messaging

Even after guests have arrived, the opportunity to upsell continues. Keep them engaged by highlighting the experiences they can enjoy now that they’re on the property. Consider offering a special promotion to encourage them to indulge in one of your onsite amenities, whether it’s a relaxing spa treatment or a refreshing drink at the bar.

Remember, it’s about adding value without overwhelming your guests—quality over quantity is key. A CDP powers the discovery of valuable insights within your guest data, such as preferences, interests, and spending habits. This enables you to create focused marketing campaigns that target specific guest segments, paving the way for lucrative direct revenue opportunities. For upsell offers, a CDP allows you to send the most relevant offers to the right people, maximizing your success.

In Jason’s case, he’s staying with you for a relaxing weekend, so a spa treatment and a late checkout will be the perfect options for him.

Ellenborough Park sent the following upsell offer for guests based on specific stay dates:

Subject line: Celebrate the Platinum Jubilee at Ellenborough Park!

Why we love this campaign: This campaign was sent to recipients based on stay data for the Jubilee weekend. Though the recipient count was low, the engagement rate was exceptionally high.

On-property upsell campaign by Ellenborough Park

Post-stay

Transitioning into the post-stay phase offers a strategic opportunity to re-engage guests and create loyal return guests who book direct.

Secure direct revenue and create loyal guests with OTA winback campaigns

The channels: email and text messaging

As booking sites continue to increase their commission rates, hotels are losing significant revenue to OTAs. What used to be around a 10% commission rate has now escalated to an average range of 15-30% or more, encompassing not only booking commissions but also charges on upsells, cancellations, and taxes.

It’s time to take back control. Even when guests initially book through OTAs, hotels can entice them to return directly. The winback campaign emerges as a powerful tactic for engaging with guests post-checkout and incentivizing them to book directly. Maybe Jason booked a couple of stays with you in the past via an OTA, but it doesn’t stop you from giving him reasons to book direct next time.

Utilize winback campaigns to express gratitude for their visit with a personalized “thank you” message, making them feel appreciated and valued. Moreover, encourage direct bookings by offering exclusive amenities not available elsewhere, such as automatic upgrades, guaranteed late checkout, or complimentary parking. While the discount offered may not exceed those on other sites, the unique perks provided can entice guests to choose direct booking channels, enhancing their experience and fostering loyalty.

CDPs include identity resolution capabilities, which can identify and merge guest profiles with a masked OTA email address. This means that if Jason had previously stayed at your hotel through an OTA booking or at another property within your hotel group, you can uncover his guest data and learn more about Jason and his interests. By targeting guests with the right offers, you can win even more direct revenue and build lasting loyalty.

We have a couple of OTA Winback campaign examples for you, from MARRAM hotel and Paresa Resort Phuket, to reclaim bookings from OTAs:

Subject line: Thank you for choosing Marram (14 days post check-out)

Why we love this campaign: Give your guests a reason to book directly. In this campaign, MARRAM Hotel presents past guests with a selection of unique promotions and packages, especially tailored for them.

OTA Winback campaign by MARRAM Hotel

Subject line: Exclusive Offer For You, [GUEST FIRST NAME]

Why we love this campaign: Make your guests feel special. Here’s an example of encouraging your guests to return with an exclusive offer, only available if they book directly with you. Clean, concise, with a clear CTA.

OTA Winback campaign by Paresa

Capture guest feedback with surveys

The channels: email

Jason is at the end of his stay with you. He enjoyed several services and amenities, and you interacted with him on multiple occasions. It’s important to ask Jason about his experience and encourage him to leave a review.
Guests write reviews for one of two reasons: they were either pleasantly surprised and delighted by their experience because their expectations were exceeded, or they were disappointed because their expectations were not met. In either case, these reviews are invaluable learning experiences for your staff.

By paying close attention to guest feedback, you and your team can gain a clearer understanding of what you’re doing well and where there are opportunities for improvement. This provides a unique chance to gather constructive feedback without risking your public reputation. Encourage guests to share their thoughts so you can continuously refine and enhance your services.

And critically, the information you collect in guest surveys can be used to further personalize future email and messaging campaigns.

Re-inspire past guests with “we miss you” emails

The channels: email

After Jason and Caroline return home, it’s time to start the process all over again by re-inspiring them to book with you again. Creating loyal, repeat guests who book direct is one of the best ways to reduce your cost of acquisition and increase guests’ lifetime value.

“We miss you” campaigns present a valuable opportunity to reconnect with guests who haven’t visited your property in a while. It’s recommended to send these campaigns up to one year after the guest’s most recent stay, ensuring you catch them during their holiday-planning phase. Personalize the message by highlighting details about their last stay, sparking memories about what a special time they had.

Here’s one “We Miss You” campaign example from Banyan Tree Mayakoba:

Subject line: It’s time to book your next stay!

Why we love this campaign: This campaign is sent exactly a year after a past guest’s last stay with the property and is also sent in Spanish for Spanish-speaking guests. To celebrate the anniversary of their last stay, Banyan Tree Mayakoba invites guests to come back with a special gift—20% off their next stay and a $100 food and beverage credit.

We miss you campaign by Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Start automating personalized guest communication with a CDP

With a CDP, you can automate your messaging throughout the guest journey without compromising on personalization, ultimately enhancing guest satisfaction and loyalty. Jason is a happy and satisfied guest, thanks to all of the personalized communication across different channels throughout his stay.

Learn more about how a CDP can automate personalized messaging with our resource, “A comprehensive guide to the hotel Customer Data Platform,” and why a basic CRM isn’t enough to achieve the personalized experiences that today’s guests expect in our article, “Evolving from CRM to CDP: What got us here won’t get us there.”

About Revinate

Revinate empowers hoteliers to directly connect with their guests.

Our Guest Data Platform and communication solutions unlock revenue for hoteliers and put them in control of the full guest experience — initial research, booking, check-in, throughout the stay, and even after check out — all via the communication channels that guests prefer, whether it’s voice, text, email, or web.

More than 12,000 hotels globally bank on Revinate to drive direct revenue and deliver delightful guest experiences.

Ask us how we do it. Visit our website to get a demo.

Sanjana Chappalli
Vice President, Brand Marketing and Comms
Revinate, Inc.

Related Posts

Insights that drive results

Subscribe now to get the latest content

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. *Required fields.

Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.