Guests’ expectations around travel have never been higher. After more than a year of staying home to flatten the curve, travelers are finally ready to hit the road and make up for lost time. This week, Destination Analysts reported that 73.7% of Americans (up from 71.9%) are excited to travel in the near future. And, those who do not feel confident they can travel safely in the current environment are at a record low (15.7%). But with this new freedom and excitement for travel comes expectations around the journey.
To ensure that you exceed your guests’ expectations, it has never been more important to engage with guests via email marketing before they arrive on property. Well-timed guest communication will ensure that your arriving guests start their stay on the right foot. Why? The days preceding guests checking in present hoteliers with a great opportunity to not only get guests excited for the stay and let them know what to expect, but also to present offers that allow you to personalize the stay and drive ancillary revenue. In this article, we share five tips to capture guest preferences pre-arrival using email marketing.
Tip One: Time Your Pre-Arrival Email Campaign Correctly
The beauty of Hotel CRM is that you can use the data you generate to optimize and improve things like open rates, click through rates and even subject lines. Study your analytics to understand the best time to send your pre-arrival emails. For example, we know, from analyzing the data of our Revinate Marketing customers, that the sweet spot for sending emails to gather guest preference data is three to seven days before arrival.
Capturing guest preference data is important because it allows you to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations and show that you care about their experience with you. Some guests prefer rooms on higher floors while others like to be on the ground level. Some guests hate the long walk from the elevators while others want to be away from the noise. By capturing their requests before they arrive, you’re in a better position to be prepared when they check-in.
As we shared in our 2020 Revinate Marketing Benchmark Report, when it comes to room and amenity upsells, room requests were the most common, capturing more than 75% of the category. Guests proved that they have strong preferences when it comes to their room location and size. Similarly, guests like to request extra amenities during their stay, such as extra towels, blankets, and pillows. Extra amenities accounted for more than 14% of the requests in this category. While not as popular, mini bar upsells consisted of 10.8% of these request types.
Revinate Marketing customers can also use the database insights report to check the average booking lead time to make an informed decision about when to schedule your pre-arrival email. If you have a significant number of last-minute bookings, make sure to have a few versions of your pre-arrival email (7 days before check-in, 3 days before check-in and 1 day before check-in) to ensure that everyone hears from you before they check-in with the right information. For example, emails going to guests checking in the next day should mention ‘tomorrow’ and not talk too much about travel preparation.
Tip Two: Set Expectations Properly
If your hotel is undergoing renovations or the parking lot is hard to find, let your guests know in advance through a well-timed pre-arrival email campaign. No one likes to be surprised and disappointed so ensure arriving guests know what to anticipate upon arrival, especially since the first impression is so important.
Taking a cue from the airline industry, pre-arrival emails are becoming industry-standard for hoteliers looking to ensure that guests have all the information they need about their stay. Be sure to include check-in time, the price of valet, and anything else that might surprise guests when they go through your doors after a long travel day.
Tip Three: Treat Returning Guests Like VIPs
Nothing makes guests feel more special than acknowledging and thanking them for their loyalty. Make your existing guest data work for you. Segment your arrivals by ‘returning guest’ and ‘new guest’ and ensure that each segment gets a different pre-arrival email. Past guests should be warmly thanked for their loyalty and welcomed back to the property like an old friend. Consider sending the email from the GM for an extra personal touch.
Tip Four: Personalize Upsells to Drive Ancillary Revenue
With a Hotel CRM, you are able to automate communications to ensure that your guests always have the information they need, when they need it. Segment your customers by using the data you have collected in your CRM and develop personalized offers for each segment. For example, offer your highest ADR customers the opportunity to upgrade to a fabulous suite or offer families the opportunity to purchase breakfast at a discounted price.
In our 2020 Revinate Marketing Benchmark Report, we shared which upsells worked particularly well last year. For example, when it comes to transportation offers, guests took advantage of airport transfers more than any other transportation offer. When it comes to special campaign upsells, family friendly upsells were the most popular in 2020, representing 49% of requests in the category. To take advantage of this upsell, be sure to present personalized offers to families traveling with kids. Romantic upsells and wine rounded out the top three. These upsells should be targeted at couples traveling together or for a special occasion.
Tip Five: Let Guests Know You’re Available to Solve Any Issues
One of the best ways to ensure a great online reputation is to ensure that guests come to you with any issues while they’re still on-property, so you can resolve the issues before they return home. The pre-arrival email is a great opportunity to let your guests know that their real-time feedback is appreciated, 24/7. End your email with a sentence such as, “We are committed to ensuring that your stay is great. If you experience any problems when you are with us, please let us know ASAP and at any time of the day, so we may rectify the situation.” Also, be sure to include your contact information, such as the Front Office Manager’s name and email.
Ready to take advantage of your own guest data to ensure you’re able to wow your guests before they even arrive on property? Book a meeting with us and we’ll show you how easy it is to create automated pre-arrival email campaigns with Revinate Marketing.
Or, if you’re looking to learn more about how to maximize revenue using email marketing throughout the rest of the guest journey, take our Email Marketing Certification course today. It will help you become the hotel marketing expert you want to be.