Every year we analyze the marketing activity of our global clients where we review over 635 million emails across 10,000 hoteliers. We look into the unique insights of not only when and what our clients are sending, but how these campaigns are being received. We compiled this information into our Hotel Marketing Benchmark Report to help you understand what the current email marketing climate is and how your property measures up. Let’s dive into a quick overview.
Year in Review
We all know that 2021 posed quite a few challenges for the travel industry. As we began to recover from the forced locked downs of our properties, border openings and closings, and changing rules and regulations, we were faced with another big challenge: staffing shortages. Then came the Delta variant, followed by Omicron. It felt like a 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 punch for the industry. But the hospitality industry has always been resilient, finding new ways to reinvent itself in times of crisis. As a community, we’ve had our fair share of trials and tribulations, but pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps and came together to do what we do best, take care of our guests.
Marketing during 2021
The successful properties leaned into their email marketing platforms by sending pertinent information for guest travel while taking advantage of the upsell. Whether it was a better room, a longer stay at a discount, or a specialized amenity, guests were opening those emails because they needed to know! Why not add a little nudge? By utilizing the opportunity to seek out new revenue streams, some turned their business travelers into leisure travelers, others turned weekend travelers into work-cation travelers. The one thing we know for certain is that the most successful campaigns were hyper-focused. Segmentation became the name of the game. For those with clean guest data, this was an easy win.
A Big Change in 2021
Hoteliers also noticed a seismic change in the way they had to do business. Travelers were looking for contactless everything. Check-in, check-out, room service, housekeeping, you name it, they wanted it. Now, couple this shift with the staffing shortage crisis. It’s no wonder hospitality technology adoption increased (and continues to grow) by 31% from March 2020 to the end of 2021. Self-service kiosks and digital concierge services are becoming standard within the industry and they’re becoming expected.
Hint: Implementing a digital concierge is a great way to free up staff and keep guests happy
According to our research, most hotels (34%) had more than 50,000 guests in their database and over 50% had more than 25,000. This prompts a discussion of not only growing your database size but growing your marketable database. The quality of your data is a crucial component of your marketing strategy. Without this, you’ll be lacking an effective campaign, leaving you shooting arrows in the dark.
Utilizing an AI to integrate data from multiple sources and scrub your database, will give you a more holistic view of your guest. With this information, you can design strategically planned campaigns that drive your direct revenue.
Do you know most guests are willing to give up their personal information for a better experience? Pre-arrival questions through your voice channel or by email are the perfect route to a well-stocked database. And a well-stocked database is the perfect route to hyper-personalization.
Having a clean database allows you to book direct revenue while getting around those pesky OTAs. If your guest is in your hotel, then you should have their information. Simple.
Hint: Bigger isn’t always better. Continuously grow and improve the quality of your database
You have a sparkly clean, AI scrubbed database, now what? They say that the guest’s journey begins long before they walk through your door, so communicating with your guests is vital. Email marketing is the most cost-effective solution you have. But remember, our guests are getting savvier, so they want more AND they want it personalized.
Email campaigns grew over the last two years as we focused our marketing budget where we knew we could correspond with our guests safely. Global open rates performed at about 20% or 1 in every 5 emails. However, smaller, more segmented databases of under 5k, saw a 6.5% increase over global numbers due to an emphasis on personalization.
It’s evident that email remains the best channel for communication as you build a relationship to drive direct bookings. But it has to be the right message, to the right person, at the right time. NO MORE BLASTS. You now have your guests’ personalized information, so it’s time to use it.
Also, don’t forget to test your campaigns. Send, analyze. Send, analyze. Rinse & repeat. Only automated campaigns should be set on a “set & forget” (we’ll address that later), but well-designed and well-written emails need to be tweaked and honed until they’re just right. What resonated with your guests? More importantly what didn’t? Did the email convert to a room night? If not, why? Open rates and click-thru rates are great, but conversion is where it’s at.
Hint: Smaller segments improved conversion rates by up to 533%
Take a look at one of your campaigns and measure your results against what we’re reporting here. Hopefully, you saw better results, but if not, it’s time to tweak!
The one-time promotions, package deals, newsletters, etc., are where you get to sit back, relax and send the same message out to your entire database… nope, not anymore. This is a guaranteed way to alienate your database, ruin your credibility, and encourage your guests to hit that horrible “unsubscribe” button or worse: SPAM!
One-time Promotions Performed 4.4% Higher on the Open Rate Scale.
But you need to choose your segments wisely. Don’t send the Suttons an email for your big weekend rooftop bash when you know they always travel with their kids. Don’t send a flash sale for an upcoming weekend to a traveler that can’t get there on time. Be particular about your segmenting and you may find new revenue streams.
Lastly, repurpose those successful campaigns from last year, don’t feel that you always need to create a new campaign. Maybe you had a summer special that drove a large number of room nights, give it a new name, new image, and get it out the door. By the way, If you need some inspiration, we can help!
Hint: resend a campaign to the segment of your audience that didn’t open the initial email.
Automated campaigns, those “set it and forget it” emails we chatted about a minute ago, are set up and sent based on a trigger, running quietly in the background. Emails such as anniversaries, birthdays, welcome letters, pre-arrival, post-stay, and win-backs, are all automated emails that can run for months, maybe even years, but should they?
Review and update your automated emails with new photos or seasonal information. Monitor them for accuracy and test them. Review your metrics and test your subject lines and send times.
Because of hyper-segmentation, these emails tend to see a higher open rate than one-time campaigns, 270% higher so take advantage of this. Automated pre-arrival emails, sent a few days before your guests arrive, can drive upsells in revenue to your outlets. Extending a “stay an extra day” offer increases your room revenue.
Hint: OTA win-back emails have the highest conversion rate of automated emails by almost 2x.
We talk about this a lot. We’ve probably mentioned it several times in this post alone. Let’s just say this: segmentation can improve overall campaign performance by 533%. Boom.
Your guests have given you their email, they want to hear from you. BUT, they want content relative to them (see the Suttons above). If you’re not segmenting your content, you’re going to be sent straight to trash, or even unsubscribed.
Leverage your guest data from your PMS with a hotel-specific email partner. This will allow you to hyper-segment your campaigns and drive your conversions. Get personal and talk to your guests in a way that makes them know they are valued.
Hint: Segments of less than 5,000 guests saw a 5x conversion rate of larger segments.
It’s not surprising that email volumes continued to increase over the last year. Email is the most utilized form of communication we have with our guests. We used email marketing to keep our guests up-to-date on new restrictions, openings and closures of outlets, and any other pre-arrival information we felt was necessary. According to our Benchmark Report, email volume rose another 37% per hotel compared to 2020. Despite limited resources and budgets, Revinate Marketing customers are able to stay connected with their guests.
Most of us are used to upsells in our day-to-day lives. We don’t think much about upgrading our seats so we can check our luggage or the cashier who asks if you “want fries with that?” In hospitality, it can mean the difference between a standard room or a suite, leading to room revenue.
Personalization is once again the key. Tap into your database. Take advantage of your guest preferences and upsell away! Travelers are never more excited about their upcoming vacations than before they leave their homes. Reach out with offers for early check-in / late check-out, F&B amenities, and exclusive offers. Help guests plan, they’ll love you for it. Over 74% of our guests chose to have an F&B amenity sent to their room as opposed to having breakfast in the restaurant.
As travelers began to leave the monotony of their homes, hotels got creative with their upsells. More tourism-related and outdoor experiences, the year of “living like a local” saw 89.8% of our guests immerse themselves in local activities through upselling emails.
Hint: 59.4% of guests chose to pay for an early check-in through upselling.
Email Clients and Devices
How your guests are receiving your communications is about as important as what they are receiving. You worked with your revenue manager to come up with the perfect campaign, spent hours building the perfect email, all the right images, segmented your lists, tested your subject lines, and hit the send button. But did you think about whether your guest was looking at it on their mobile phone or their desktop?
With all the devices out there, it’s sometimes difficult to ensure your emails look perfect across all platforms. And who has the time to test them all? We recommend building your emails for the most popular email clients and then testing them. Revinate Marketing allows you to preview your emails across 28 mobile and desktop clients right in the builder, saving you time and headaches.
Mobile traffic saw a decline in 2021 compared to 2020, most likely because employees were returning to offices with desktops and laptops. But an increase in webmail means that more users are choosing cloud-based solutions to make a seamless move between work from home and office locations.
Hint: quality content that’s rendered correctly is key to conversions.
Customer sentiment brings a few silver linings with growing optimism among travelers. Industry reports say that 91% of travelers are planning a trip in the next six months, and most plan to infuse the local businesses that have suffered through these last two years. Many of our travelers have been dreaming of getting away to those places they’ve been scrolling past in their feeds. They’re ready to pack their bags, so you need to be ready to give them the best experience you possibly can. Find more information and insights in our Marketing Benchmark Report.