In my daily conversations with hoteliers, I often hear about the same challenges and concerns that affect both large hotel chains and small individual boutique hotels. On the one hand, it is about the distribution and optimization of existing vs. new customer business and, on the other hand, awareness is increasing constantly that the goal is not only to see that the rooms are full, but also to analyze what price you pay for it, or what percentage of sales you unfortunately often have to do without. In the following, I will focus on two points that pose challenges for many hoteliers:
a.) In order to acquire new guests, a lot of money and resources are invested in social media, Google Ads and OTAs.
b.) In order to address existing customers again, many hoteliers regularly send out newsletters (to the entire guest database) or the returning customers simply book again via the same channels that were mentioned under point A, i.e. Google Ads, social media or OTA’s.
A.) Let’s take a closer look at new customer acquisition
While social media, Google and OTAs are a great source of new guests for hoteliers, hoteliers pay high commission through these channels or have variable costs to attract website visitors through CPC models. In order to break the “vicious circle”, experienced hoteliers are successfully using a guest data platform to convert guests who have booked through these channels into direct bookers. This is the only way to ensure that they do not continue to have to pay high commissions for the second, third and fourth stay of a guest. Certain methods even manage to get the guest to book directly the first time.
Use that momentum for potential guests visiting your website
Not only can the OTA bookings be expensive for the hoteliers, but bookings that reach your website via Google ads or social media need to be paid properly. What exactly is the price you pay? How many website visitors actually book? Out of 100 website visitors, only 16 start the booking process and only 2.4 visitors actually complete the entire process up to the final booking. Frightening, isn’t it? It is important to collect the direct contact details of the website visitors in order not to lose these visitors again. Below are three ways to do this successfully.
Add newsletter registrations directly into the Guest Data Platform
Newsletter subscriptions are already common on many hotel websites. Rarely, however, do potential guests, the so-called “warm leads”, see what to expect when they sign up. Do you save directly on the next booking? Are they getting a better deal than any third party? In order not to lose the website visitors again in seconds, it is important to write this out in order to offer them an attractive incentive to register. Later, the Guest Data Platform, where the registrations end up, helps to create a holistic guest profile to send to prospects with incentives promised on the website.
Exit pop-up: Recording of website visitors in the inspiration phase
In addition to the newsletter registration, Revinate offers the exit pop-up as a guest data platform. This module helps you to query the guest data during the inspiration phase on the website. The exit pop-up can be used on various landing pages, so you can see exactly what content the visitor is interested in and, with the help of the Guest Data Platform, you can send suitable (personalized and automated) offers to these potential, already very interested guests.
Shopping Cart Abandonment
So let’s talk about the 16 people from my stats above who already started the booking process but abandoned it because as a reminder, only 2.4 people complete the booking on average.
With an abandonment rate of 85%, an ADR of $279 and an average stay of 2 nights, it means that based on 100 people who start a booking, hoteliers lose $47,498. Crazy, right? And that’s exactly why the Shopping Cart Abandonment module helps to remind these guests to complete the booking.
Especially the exit pop up and website subscription campaigns ensure amazingly high conversion rates of 15-30%. Furthermore, we see an average reduction of 20-25% in OTA bookings and a significant reduction in the cost of generating new leads again. Thus, hoteliers manage to save a lot of money within the very cost-intensive instrument, “new customer acquisition”, and also win significantly more interested parties.
B.) Let’s look at existing customer management
Now that the data of the website visitors has been recorded, or they have even been motivated to book directly, it is now important to use this guest data smartly in existing customer management in order to win the guests for a “direct” repeated booking.
Here, the Guest Data Platform helps enormously to summarize, sort, and use the guest data from different data sources. Here are the key points that successfully implement an existing customer strategy with a guest data platform.
The first important step in which a hospitality-specific Guest Data Platform provides tremendous support and saves hours of work for hoteliers, is real-time database cleaning. Unfortunately, the uncleaned guest data of the current hotel systems means that not all guest information is visible, and is not immediately recognizable of how often he/she was there and which service in the house was gladly used. The automatic database cleanup of the CRM combines all of this data from one or more systems and thus creates a holistic picture of the guest! In the next point we see how this clean data can help target guests in a personalized way.
Send personalized & target group specific communication to your guests
How do I keep my guest database up to date? What seasonal offers are currently available and how do I motivate guests to come back? E-mail is the channel that hoteliers rightly like to use to reach their existing customers, because it is the cheapest communication channel, requires few employee resources and you can reach all guests in the mailing list. However, emails to the entire mailing list often cause frustration and disinterest on the part of the recipient, which is why you can quickly lose the hard-earned contacts in the database. The segmentation function of a guest data platform helps hoteliers to quickly and easily define the relevant target groups, automate them, and thus offer guests the content they are really interested in. Personalization creates loyalty! This has been known for a long time. Since a guest data platform linked to the PMS can filter all the guest information that has already been cleaned and merged, you can use it to impress the recipients with personalized campaigns. And this ensures an average of 73% more sales per email recipient.
Import OTA guests’ personal emails into the Guest Data Platform
While digital and informative pre-arrival and on-property communication helps front desk staff save time during the check-in process, it also allows front office staff to spend more “quality time” with guests. Guests are often willing to share their direct contact details if they see personal added value in this way for their current or future stay.
Alternatively, the booking confirmations and pre-arrival emails can also inform the arriving guests in advance about this added value and motivate them to no longer be an OTA guest but to become part of the family, which offers certain advantages (such as a faster check-in process or a family rate) promises. For your existing customer strategy, this means that you do not lose a (often very high) percentage of your database, namely that of the OTA bookers, but you can now work on it (at low cost!) to convert them into future regular guests .
I hope this article will help you understand the benefits of a Guest Data Platform in the context of your new customer acquisition and repeat customer strategy, and most importantly how you can strengthen your direct booking strategy.