72% of Millennials prefer to receive promotional messages via email vs. social media or other ads, and email conversion rates are 3X higher than social media ads. CRM, based on robust email marketing is the most effective way to build lasting, profitable relationships with your guests resulting in more frequent stays and improved direct bookings. There are some basic strategies behind launching a revenue-driving email marketing program, but before you can even get started, every hotel marketer has a critical question to answer: Should you hire an agency or should you purchase a self-service technology solution and learn to do this yourself?
It’s important to understand the differences between a self-service option and using an agency to execute your hotel’s email marketing program. A self service or do-it-yourself email solution allows you to manage your own email marketing from strategic planning to deployment. An agency collaborates with you on email marketing programs with a team of specialists who act on your behalf.
Many larger hotels and hotel groups have the budget to hire an agency. Big chains like Marriott have large in-house teams of specialists. But, for many smaller groups or independent hotels, agencies represent an expensive choice. Here are some reasons why self-service options are a better option for many hotels:
Most online self-service email marketing solutions are subscription-based, meaning you pay for access to the software for a contracted period of time. An agency will typically include the technology in their price PLUS add costs for the time spent by their specialists to do the work for you PLUS add margin in order to make a profit. A good self-service solution uses the people you already have, and if it is configured properly, much of the effort can be automated.
The responsibility of the email campaign development and deployment rests on your team’s shoulders, so an email project can be turned around as quickly as they are capable. Instead of waiting for days or weeks for an agency to create a concept, plan, and design a campaign and get your approval, marketing automation software enable your team to create an email campaign that was designed by your own team in as little as five minutes. Time matters – particularly when you are trying to publish a last-minute offer to fill a shoulder night or you have an important development to communicate to your current or future guests.
Your team not only makes the decisions, but it executes each component of the process. You’re in complete control of how the message looks, how quickly it’s turned around and exactly when it’s deployed. When deciding how to plan and execute your hotel’s email marketing strategy, these are some important factors to take into account. A good agency will work hard to ensure that everything it does meets your needs and requirements, but the time taken to review ideas, creative materials, and plans adds to the cost and slows down the process.
You know your guests better than any agency and can therefore deliver the service and messaging that speaks best to them. Additionally, an email marketing program that integrates directly with your Property Management System can help you unlock the power of that guest data. You will be able to see which portions of your guest database are most profitable. And once you’ve identified these guest segments, you can target them with messaging that is uniquely relevant to them. The insights you learn about your guests through integrated marketing can also be applied to guest services, hotel design, and other uses. Guest knowledge becomes an asset for you to use rather than something that an agency controls for you.
It’s true that for many hotels, an agency offers a hands-off experience with a team of experts at your disposal. But, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of such a decision, because for some hotel marketing teams, self service technology offers a faster, easier way to execute a highly profitable email marketing program.
Revinate believes in expertise, and we also know that hotel marketers don’t usually start off as CRM experts. Our Revinate Marketing clients are assigned a Hotel Revenue Expert at setup to take care of the implementation process, set up your initial segments and campaigns, and provide ongoing consultation and support through the life of the relationship. Having the benefits of expertise combined with the cost, speed, control and knowledge of self-service is, for many hotels, the best of both worlds.