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Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 59 – Smarter Hotel Email Automation & Personalization

The marketing mix is becoming more and more complex with new opportunities and tools constantly becoming available to hoteliers. Unfortunately, the days are not getting longer so automation and smarter marketing are required to keep your hotel on cutting edge of marketing. In this episode of the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast, we are going to dive into how you can save time and improve your ROI on email marketing.

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Show Notes:

Part 1: Personalization

It is a well-known fact that personalization improves email performance, both in the subject line and email content.  Campaign Monitor released figures that on average a personalized subject line will improve open rates by 31% (18.8% for personalized content and 13.1% for generic).  Personalization beyond the subject line can further move the ball toward the goal line by improving click rate by over 10%.  Now the most important metric, revenue improvements, really depends on the offer so we will save that topic for another podcast.

Before you can personalize you need to collect data and depending on the stage of your relationship will depend on what you can personalize. Your goal as a marketer is to work on building the best possible customer database you can, and while that may start with an email address and name, it should quickly evolve to stay information, desired room types, home address, etc.

We’re going to look at two main types of personalization, basic and advanced. We would define basic as any personalization that is based on your in-house email or guest history database. Advanced would be when you go beyond that and start looking at dynamic content, browser activity, or 3rd party data feeds.  For today’s discussion we are going to look primarily at the basic personalizations that you can put into action with your list today.

Basic Personalization

  • Subject Line Personalization such as “Hi, Jack. Our Resort Has Great Deals!” or “Did You Know The Smith Family Can Stay For 30% Off?”
  • Offer personalization such as 30% off your next stay in an XYZ room type
  • Image and/article personalization based on guest interest or guest type.  An example of this would be showing a tour group photo and group article

These types of personalization are an excellent way to get started and will absolutely improve your campaign performance and email ROI.  However there is more, much more, that you can do to personalize your content.  This is where we get into more advanced personalization tactics.

Advanced Personalization

  • Real time pricing and availability
  • Dynamic email updates post send
  • Location based content
  • Current weather
  • Much more

Advanced personalization is a bit more complicated than what you can typically do directly via your ESP and database and you will typically need to enlist services such as MovableInk.com and others to make this work.

Email Tip: Personalization is as much about what you don’t send as what you do send. Exclusion lists are your friend.

Part 2: Triggered Sends and The Emails Your Hotel Can’t Live Without

Now that we have covered the personalization aspects of your sends, we are now going to go into detail on how you can combine personalization with triggered emails to make your overall email campaigns more profitable in both driving guests as well as incremental revenue from current guests.

  • Welcome Email(s)
    • Welcome emails typically have a phenomenal open and click rates (above 50%)
    • Limited personalization depending on signup method
    • This can be a single email or better yet a series of warm up emails promoting different aspects of your property
  • Confirmation Email
    • This is the one trigger all properties already have, but few use them effectively.
    • 70+% open rates and 25+% click rates if you are doing it correctly
    • Aside from the booking confirmation, use this to sell room upgrade and on-site amenities.
  • Pre Arrival Emails
    • Based on our client email performance the pre arrival message has the best open rate of all triggered sends we manage (71%)
    • Ideal for a last minute room upgrade and selling on-site amenities
    • Use this to also begin creating the social story for the guest with strong social media integration
    • Don’t be afraid to send multiple pre-arrival emails
  • App and Express Check In
    • Depending on your property this message is one of our favorite tools to improve customer satisfaction and drive incremental revenue.
    • Our clients typically see performance in the range of 50% open and 20% click through.  For one client, that equated to almost 2,000 app downloads in the 2nd quarter
  • Post Stay
    • Fantastic way to gather customer experience information or drive reviews, both in-house and via TripAdvisor.
    • Opportunity for a limited time discount for future stays
    • Opportunity to elicit your guest to share experiences on social media
  • Booking Anniversary Message (join date and/or last stay)
    • Don’t forget the booking anniversary message, it is an incredibly valuable tool in driving your past guests back into the booking process.
    • We have our triggers set up to typically deliver this personalized message 30 days prior to the booking anniversary of their last stay.
    • If you’re savvy and are capturing your OTA guest emails at check in you can also setup an OTA Anniversary message in an attempt to bring them back to the property, this time as a direct booking.
  • Cancellation
    • Don’t let your guest cancel without putting up a fight.  We have found that we can engage customer back to the hotel site from a cancellation email relatively effectively.
    • Typically these emails have about a 55% open rate and is an ideal place to take one last shot at the guest.  We have found that a typical click through rate can be north of 4% which equates to your guests being effectively re engaged.
  • Cart Abandonment
    • If you are not doing cart abandonment emails… START NOW
    • Low volume but very high engagement, averaging 50+% open rate and 25% click rate.
    • How it works:
      • User signs up or provides an email address somewhere on your site and cookied
      • If user enters the booking engine and leaves they get a message after an hour to return and book.
    • Depending on the data they provide in the booking process the more personalized this email can be, such as, “ Hi Rick, your stay at our resort on August 12-15 is waiting!  But did you know popular rooms, like the XYZ ROOM TYPE, go fast?  We saved your cart for you, click here to continue…”

Email marketing remains a hotel’s most valuable marketing asset and one of the few true direct lines of communication to your guests.  Personalizing that communication will result in more direct revenue and guest engagement.  After all it is only hospitable to speak to someone by name, and we are in the hospitality business.

 

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In The News

https://skift.com/2017/07/20/google-is-testing-vacation-rental-search-in-its-hotel-price-comparison-tool/

http://www.eyequant.com/blog/what-booking-can-teach-us-about-ab-testing

http://searchengineland.com/google-posts-now-live-google-business-users-277710

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Download the Fuel & Flip.to Website Behavior Study at www.fueltravel.com/websitestudy/

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Stuart ButlerFuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 59 – Smarter Hotel Email Automation & Personalization
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