With the international rollout of nine different Coronavirus vaccines, and dozens more in the trial phase, there is reason to be hopeful that the hospitality industry has seen the worst of the pandemic. We know that leisure travelers will be the first to pack their bags, eager to leave their homes and break the monotony of pandemic life. While business travel may take a bit longer, we know that road warriors are just waiting for their company’s OK to resume scheduling in-person meetings. We’ll get there. As we look ahead to the next phase of travel, we wanted to take some time to look back at what our customers learned from the Coronavirus lockdown.
They learned the value of a strong database
One of the first things that most hoteliers did upon the news of the lockdown due to Coronavirus was an attempt to reach past guests to let them know about how they would be implementing new cleaning protocols and what their future plans were for reopening. While reaching past guests seems like something that every hotel should be able to do, it’s challenging for many because they don’t take care of their databases. They’re full of duplicate entries and OTA emails that no longer work. We know that many hoteliers were shocked to see the bounce rate after that initial email.
Luckily, Revinate customers don’t have to experience the disappointment of high bounce rates. That’s because their data is being continuously cleaned by Advanced Profile Synthesis to dedupe data and get rid of dirty records. As a result, they have a better grasp of their guests and get better response rates from emails.
A great hotel reopening story is Seymour Hotels. This group used Revinate Marketing to stay engaged with guests and ready themselves for the travel rebound. As soon as the hotels closed their doors, the Seymour Hotels’ marketing team, led by Olly Appleyard, Group Sales & Marketing Manager, immediately went into planning mode. Within two days, the team used Revinate Marketing to reach out to their entire database of 30,000 people to provide clear details of the closure and help guests who had reservations on the books.
They learned the value of segmentation
When borders began closing and shelter-in-place orders were passed down by local authorities, savvy hotels that remained opened focused on their drive-to guests for revenue. This entailed using geo-targeting to isolate guests within a few hours of the property. Once the segment was created, they used email marketing to encourage them to plan a staycation.
These local travelers became a lifeline for many hotels, including Resplendent Ceylon, a family-owned business led by second-generation owner, Malik Fernando. With ninety-eight percent of bookings before the pandemic coming from international travelers, the marketing team needed to shift their focus on local travelers.
Chandika Rajapakse, Senior Manager e-Commerce and Communications explains, “Historically, we would have had to spend numerous hours to identify local guests, segment them and create personalized marketing campaigns. Instead, with Revinate we have been marketing the properties, and our unique experiences, to past local guests via email. Experiential holidays are new for Sri Lanka and Revinate Marketing makes it really easy to segment our database to ensure we’re targeting the right guests with the right message. Thankfully, our wonderful clientele is responding to our emails and we’re seeing guests visit multiple resorts after experiencing our unique offerings and hospitality.”
They doubled down on email marketing
Email is the least expensive way to reach guests. During the pandemic, as hotels looked to reserve cash, many doubled down on email. Seymour Hotels, for example, sent 14 emails during the shutdown, with an average open rate of 37.9%. Olly admits that this period has been their most active with email and he regrets not making it more of a focus earlier. He says, “If I had realized just how powerful Revinate Marketing was in reaching our guests and getting them to respond, I would’ve devoted even more time to our email program. But now that I see the results, you can be sure that we will be investing even more energy and creativity into email marketing.”
Barbara Meltzer at De L’Europe also found success in email during the pandemic. She used Revinate Marketing to engage past guests. She says, “Revinate Marketing helped us get through one of the toughest times in our history. Many guests had reservations on the books and we were able to get in touch with them to help make alternate arrangements. It was so easy in Revinate Marketing. It would have been a nightmare, and totally manual, without it.”
The learned to hold their rates
Typically, when hoteliers see slow periods, they drop their rates. But as many experts, including Revinate, advised, it doesn’t make sense to drop rates when people aren’t traveling due to health concerns. Rather, hotels should focus on guests that are comfortable traveling – – likely staycationers.
De L’Europe took advantage of Revinate Marketing to drive value added promotions without dropping rates. At the end of April, as people began traveling again within The Netherlands, Barbara began changing the tone of the hotel’s emails to drive bookings. Using the win-back campaign in Revinate Marketing, she was able to easily reach out to past guests in the domestic market to encourage them to come back by offering premium packages. She explains, “Using opaque packages allowed us to drive 128 room nights booked direct without lowering public rates. Revinate made it easy for us to drive revenue during a difficult time and allowed us to maintain our ADR, which was really important to us.”
They became more transparent with guests about cleaning protocols
Public cleaning used to be something that happened late at night in hotels. Many hotels wanted housekeeping to work quickly and quietly, out of view of guests. But with the pandemic’s focus on health and safety, many hotels became much more up-front about their cleaning protocols and shared the details with guests.
Seymour Hotels, like many others, launched a Safe Stay Pledge commitment to reassure guests that they were taking all the necessary precautions before reopening to keep staff and customers safe. They shared this news on their website, in emails with guests, and anywhere else prospective guests go to learn more about the hotel.
As you get ready to welcome guests again, we know that you will carry lessons from the pandemic forward to ensure that you can always reach your guests and that you leverage the most cost-efficient channels to engage them. That’s where we can help. Please reach out to us today to learn more about Revinate Marketing and Hotel CRM. With these solutions in place, you’ll be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice to reach just the right guest with the right message.