5 Lies Hotel Marketers Need to Unlearn

October 22, 2015 Carolyn Murphy

 

We all know the world is changing. Hotel marketing is changing, and guest expectations are changing. Today, guests expect hoteliers to reach out to them on their terms. And it’s more than simply blasting them with messages through every channel you can find. Your guests expect you to be there when they want you and back off when they don’t. They expect you to remember what they told you at one point and anticipate their needs at another.

You need a way to succeed in this evolving marketplace to give your guests the experience they deserve. Cross channel marketing is one way to accomplish this.

Of course, from the outside, cross-channel marketing can look hard. All those different channels, all that content, all that complicated technology. It might seem that executing a successful marketing initiative is like rocket science, something only über-scientists can figure out.

Well, it’s not.

In fact, if your team is involved in digital marketing now, you probably have many of the pieces you need to launch a successful hotel marketing campaign. It’s just a matter of changing your perspective.

1. You choose the channels

WHY IT SEEMS HARD:

There are so many channels.

You want to launch a cross-channel campaign. You want it to hit your guests right where they live. But where is that?

With so many ways to reach your guests these days, it can be overwhelming. From interactions with your website to in-person interactions with your staff, from display ads to TV ads, from emails, newsletters, blogs, social media to direct mail, or print advertising.

The number of channels available to you just keeps growing. According to a 2015 study by Adobe, marketers today feel they need to optimize their content for 2.5 times as many channels as they did last year. Millennial marketers said they were accounting for at least 10 different channels in their campaigns. As the industry emphasis on optimizing the guest experience continues to expand, that number is only going to grow.

So as you’re sitting down to plan a cross-channel campaign, how do you know which channels to use?

WHY IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

You choose the channels.

Just because a channel exists doesn’t mean you have to use it. Just because someone else has supposedly become the Next Big Thing because of their use of some channel doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

For years, Facebook dominated social media. Everywhere you turned, people were talking about it. Businesses were investing in it and at least some were having real success. But in 2014, the online marketing site Copyblogger made news by completely shutting down their Facebook presence.

Why? According to Erika Napoletano, “Copyblogger’s main focus is serving its audience. And if that audience wasn’t engaging on Facebook, there was no real reason for us to pour energy into it. That’s energy we can put into other areas—ones [our audience] appreciate[s] more.”

Cross-channel marketing isn’t about hitting as many channels as you can. It’s about playing off the natural synergies in the channels you are using to create a customer experience that’s natural, unobtrusive and useful. If you’re not sure if you can do that with a given channel, you’re not obligated to use it.

We’re not saying as a hotel you should stop using Facebook. If anything, Facebook is probably one of your more effective channels. But, maybe you don’t need to use Foursquare. Maybe Vine isn’t the right option for you. Evaluate where your guests are engaging and how they want to talk to brands like yours before you pick.

You should also start with what you know. What channels are you using right now? Why are you using those channels and what do you like about them? Next, consider channels you’re interested in trying. How can these channels complement the ones you’re already using? Remember, cross-channel marketing is not about how many channels you use. It’s about how effectively you weave your brand story across the channels that work for you.

2. Repurposing is easy

WHY IT SEEMS HARD:

Different channels are different.

Not all channels are created equal. Not only do they work differently for hospitality than other businesses and not only do they work differently for your hotel specifically, but they just downright work differently. Some are easy to use, others require more planning and work, and each requires a different kind of content to be most effective.

A newsletter, for example, usually requires some kind of editorial content, whether it’s curated or built in-house. Social
media, on the other hand, involves clever status updates or other easily consumable content, like infographics or images.
Mobile apps, emails, printed collateral: each of these call for their own content.

WHY IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE:

Repurposing is easy.

Remember, cross-channel marketing isn’t just about blasting messages out through as many channels as possible. It’s about coordinating your channels and leveraging their individual strengths to impact a guest’s experience with your hotel’s brand. So if you have a clear idea of which channels are going to lead out, content creation and management becomes a lot easier.

Decide which pieces of content and which stories are going to be your flagship. From there, you can figure out how to repurpose that content so that it unlocks the power of each additional channel. Creating a marketing email and a blog post on two separate topics is time consuming. Creating a marketing email from a blog post on the same topic, however, is much more manageable and produces cohesive content that is tailored to specific channels.

However, you definitely want to think about some kind of revenue attribution. As you continue to expand your cross-channel effort, the content you create will grow. At some point, you’ll want to measure your success as you plan your ongoing marketing strategy, and decide which emails and social media posts have generated the most revenue.

3. You have what your customers want

WHY IT SEEMS HARD:

Getting guest information is hard.

Cross-channel campaigns are fueled by guest information. The whole point is to give them what they want. But if you don’t know what they want, you can’t give it to them.

With all these different channels, your data is coming from a bunch of different sources. Over time, that data can change. And sometimes guests simply refuse to offer any information. Or they don’t give you the whole truth.

In fact, according to a 2012 study from Columbia Business School, “91% of senior corporate marketers believe that successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions. Yet 39% say their own company’s data is collected too infrequently or not real-time enough.”

WHY IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE:

You have what your guests want.

The guest information puzzle has many pieces (some of which we’ll look at in #4), but at the core, the answer is you. Remember, your guests aren’t giving you their personal information out of the goodness of their hearts. You have something they want.

The key is to make a fair exchange. From the beginning, consider how you’re going to present your offer so that your guests want to give you their information. You understand your hotel and what it has to offer. You understand your value proposition. Use that knowledge to present yourself in a way that’s inviting and that lets your guests know they’re in charge.

Also, take advantage of the differences in your channels during the process. How is giving information different on a mobile device than on a laptop or at the front desk? Make sure that the process for capturing guest information is tailored to each channel so that your guests don’t feel any friction.

And when they do give you their information, take note. If someone shows their willingness to engage, that’s a relationship you want to foster. For example, marketers at Provenance hotels wanted to give priority to their repeat guests, so they used targeting technology to deliver automated campaigns at the appropriate stages of those customers’ journeys. As a result, they not only made more money from a database of repeat guests, but they had the opportunity to learn more about those guests so they can continue to deliver deeply targeted and personalized communications with their most engaged set of customers.

The truth is, some guests are never going to give you their information. That’s okay, because the number of guests that won’t do so will diminish over time as information security gets better and consumers see more value in what they’re getting out of it. So in the meantime, why not focus on those who are eager to engage?

4. The single customer view is not a myth

WHY IT SEEMS HARD:

Guest information is fractured.

Of course, even if you’re getting guest information, it might be totally fractured. Unless you’ve built your
marketing engine from the ground up with cross-channel in mind, it’s likely that you have different systems managing different touchpoints.

Your PMS maybe gathers information into one database, while your booking engine has it’s own repository for customer data. And this gets even more complicated when you factor in online and offline channels. Guest information is on social media, guest satisfaction surveys, and online reviews.

Hoteliers aren’t alone in this. According to Experian, 79 percent of companies face challenges when connecting disparate data to create a single customer view.

So, how can you use all this data in a meaningful way?

WHY IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE:

The single customer view is not a myth.

The good news is that the technology exists today to consolidate all of your guest information into a single, integrated guest profile. But even if you’re not ready (or don’t have the budget) to jump on the technology bandwagon yet, you can still wade into the cross-channel waters.

Creating a single view of a guest is a matter of understanding what it is you want that guest to do. Even if you’re getting data about that guest from a bunch of different sources and those sources don’t talk to each other, you can still start by understanding the information you’re getting and then manually tying it together.

Focus on just a few channels to get started. Be mindful of the data points that overlap, as well as the points that are unique to each channel. These distinctions can help you map the guest journey in a way that makes campaign planning a piece of cake.

And the investment is worth it. Rebekah Hubbard, Engagement Manager at Provenance Hotels, wanted a more personalized way to connect with guests via email, to create valuable relationships and loyalty, so they signed up for Revinate Marketing™, which combines a marketing automation platform with the deep guest data found in Rich Guest Profiles. With these two combined in Revinate Marketing, Provenance Hotels now has the power to deliver truly personalized guest communications. Rebekah says, “With Revinate Marketing, our communications are very personalized and relevant to what each guest is looking for, right now.”

Rebekah and Provenance Hotels understood their guests, so they were able to develop email marketing campaigns that drove attributable revenue.

5. You don’t need everything

WHY IT SEEMS HARD:

There’s so much data.

You’ve solved the problem with gathering customer data, but now you’re getting so much data that you don’t know what to do with it. And once you can start collecting guest data from new channels like online reviews and social media, the amount of data you receive will only continue to grow. How do you get a handle on all this data and use it productively?

WHY IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE:

You don’t need everything.

Honestly? You don’t need to use it all productively. Not every piece of data you receive is going to be actionable. So the way to start is to identify which data you really do need.

Consider the purpose of your campaign and then consider what it is your hotel has to offer. If you’re getting information that doesn’t have an impact on your ability to communicate with your guests in a timely and relevant manner, consider trimming down a bit. For example, a guest might like cats or the Queen of England on Facebook, but you can’t necessarily use that information to market to him. But, if the guest likes golf or has previously booked a tee time with your hotel, then that’s information you can use.

Beyond that, there are other ways to manage the data you’re getting. Adopting a robust data management solution, especially a CRM and marketing automation solution, can make things much easier.

Ultimately, here are four tips for using your data more intelligently:

  • Organize and manage resources
  • Identify your guests accurately
  • Talk with your guests
  • Use data to look forward

Conclusion

See? It’s not hard. It just take some thought, some planning, and a willingness to try. It also helps to have the right technology solution. But, it’s crucial to building relationships with your guests in this modern, crazy world.

So start by picking the channels that work for you. You can expand later if it makes sense, but you should start with the channels you know you can support. Then create your content so it tells your story in the best possible way through each of those channels. Let each channel shine in its own way, telling the story in its own unique way. But, be sure it’s the same, consistent story.

Next, get a handle on your data. Take the time to understand each of your customers and be disciplined in the data you use so you’re not swimming in numbers. And finally, make the changes you need in your organization to make cross-channel marketing a reality. Get buy-in at every level by making sure you have a clear plan and that you’re highlighting the real financial benefits. And that’s it. It’s not rocket science. It’s simply taking charge of your own success. So it’s time. You can do it.

Effective, data-based marketing can help you win back business from the OTAs. CLICK HERE to download our free guide and learn how.

The post 5 Lies Hotel Marketers Need to Unlearn appeared first on Revinate.

 

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