Over the last couple of years, the online travel agencies (OTAs) have consolidated significantly, as Expedia and Priceline have purchased some of the more regional players. For those keeping track, Expedia now owns Hotels.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, Orbitz, Trivago, CheapTickets, and eBookers among others. The Priceline Group now owns Booking.com, priceline.com, KAYAK, agoda.com, and more. These acquisitions have resulted in much less competition amongst OTAs and metasearch sites.
Additionally, TripAdvisor and Google have thrown their hats into the ring with recent releases of OTA-like booking functions. This development likely means fewer direct bookings for hotels, as guests who plan their trips in search engines and review sites will no longer have the incentive to visit the hotel's website to book.
Unless hotels act quickly to compete for guest loyalty, middlemen like the OTAs, Google, and TripAdvisor will soon own the relationship. Hotels will get stuck paying commissions to re-acquire the same customers over and over.
The key to competing? Guest data. If hotels can use what they know about their guests to tailor their hotel marketing and operations efforts, and ultimately, their guest experience to their customers' needs and expectations, then that additional value will encourage brand loyalty and drive revenue.
How do we know this? Customer experience directly correlates with revenue growth when it comes to competitive industries. This is especially true in environments like hospitality, where the competition is fierce and the customer experience can vary drastically.
So, here are three ways you can leverage your guest data to save your hotel in today's intensely competitive hospitality world.
1. Pinpoint the weak spots you didn't know you had.
Your guests have been talking about you online for years. You've probably also been collecting guest feedback with some kind of guest satisfaction survey. This is nothing new. But you might not have Sentiment Analysis, a text analytics software that integrates your feedback data from your surveys and from all over the internet. You might not have a solution that makes this analysis instantaneous. When you can look at all of your data, from TripAdvisor reviews to guest satisfaction surveys, and know what your guests are consistently praising or complaining about, you know your own strengths and weaknesses.
Some Revinate customers found flaws they didn't know they had when they signed up for Revinate Reputation and Surveys. For example, Las Suites in Mexico City discovered that they had an issue with traffic noise. The Amora Hotel Jamison Sydney discovered that guests thought their check-in process was slow. But Revinate's conclusive data analysis gave the teams at both hotels the confidence they needed to make big changes to fix the problems. Las Suites installed soundproof windows. The front office staff at the Amora Hotel Jamison Sydney worked very hard to refine its check-in procedures. As a result, the hotels received no more complaints about noise or slow check-in and both of them skyrocketed up the TripAdvisor Popularity Index.
2. Differentiate with targeted marketing.
Guest data doesn't just give hotels insights into larger, property-level changes that need to be made. With the right customer relationship management software (CRM) and marketing automation solution, it can also be a way to differentiate its offerings from its competitors and encourage repeat guests to book direct.
For example, a generic email message might be sent to all contacts, "Book now and receive a complimentary appointment with our award-winning spa!" regardless of context. But with the right data and the right automation solution, a hotel marketer can marry different data points and target specific guests with specific behavioral attributes. For example, past guests who have previously booked with the spa: "Remember that massage at our award-winning spa? Come stay with us again and receive a complimentary appointment."
This will save your hotel because targeted hotel marketing emails produce 30% more opens and 50% more click-throughs than undifferentiated campaigns. And 76% of all email marketing revenue comes from more advanced practices than generic broadcast email.
Translation? By automating your marketing messages, you're sending smarter campaigns that drive higher ROI. And with set-it-and-forget-it campaigns like an upgrades campaign sent to incoming guests, it takes zero extra time to do it. Incorporating hotel marketing automation into your guest communications strategy can be a great path for increasing analytic capability and ultimately increasing sales.
3. Be agile with last-minute promotions.
A big group cancels at the last minute and suddenly you have rooms to fill. You also have to sell tickets to a brewery event. If you can't target the guests who are likely to respond with the right offer, say, those who live within 200 miles of the hotel and like a local brewery on Facebook, some of those rooms may remain empty and tickets may remain unsold.
Or say the President announces a last-minute visit in your city, and you have to communicate with incoming guests about changes in parking and traffic patterns. Can you pinpoint exactly the right guests, or will you annoy or confuse people in your database with irrelevant emails?
In any case, to deliver the best possible guest experience, it's vital in hospitality to be able to reach the right guests with the right email marketing message at the right time. If you don't have a way to access or use your data, or you have to wait on outside firms to deliver a designed email, then your hotel will be too slow to keep up in today's fast-paced digital world.
Data-Driven Action is Critical in Hospitality
According to TripAdvisor, 80% of hoteliers agree that increasing repeat bookings is “very important” to the future of their businesses. You get it: fostering relationships with a base of customers to create loyalty is critical in today’s competitive hospitality environment.
With the right data analysis solution, brands can collect very rich guest data, gaining insights on customer needs, preferences, and buying behaviors. Even smaller independent properties can see great benefit from engaging with their existing guest database. The right hotel CRM solution and marketing automation program will integrate with existing systems to aggregate guest data. With this information, you can not only learn about your guests, but you can use that data to deliver personalized email marketing messages that create valuable relationships and lifelong customers.
Want to learn more about how hotels can use their guest data? CLICK HERE to access our article Breaking Down the Barriers in Guest Data.