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Improve guest experience and sales with direct digital marketing

Posted by TeamITI on May 6, 2010

Every interaction a guest has with a hotel brand is important, from online initial research to booking the room to emails leading up to the stay to check in and check out. Every single interaction is a potential defining moment for the hotel in the mind of the guest. One misstep – one negative interaction – is all it takes to turn a potentially loyal guest and brand sponsor into an empowered person with a negative perception. The surest way to guard against a guest having a bad experience is to facilitate coordination between each individual moment of truth a guest encounters. While it seems difficult to build an ecosystem capable of coordinating so many interactions, it may be easier than you think, thanks to direct digital marketing.

The simplicity of direct digital marketing – sending relevant marketing communications to individuals using an email address, Web site cookie, or mobile phone number – is made possible by a unified approach to data. While customer-centricity is the buzz word du jour, direct digital marketing makes it a reality since the software and its native multi-channel content delivery capabilities are built on a universal profile management system.

Universal Profile
Universal profile management creates a central location for all of the data necessary for executing great email marketing, onsite targeting, and mobile marketing programs. The more data within the system, the more effective the marketing communications become. A universal profile management system is unique – and ideal for great direct digital marketing – because it combines the power of known guest information and captured guest behavior. An example segment of guests could include a combination of past stay history and survey responses – all explicit information the guest shared – and behavioral information like which keyword search the guest came to the Web site from, the number of recent email opens, and what content has been interesting enough for them to click.

Centralizing important data is crucial to painting a complete picture of each individual guest. And, centralizing data in the same software platform that executes direct digital marketing campaigns is vital for effective coordination along each important guest touch point.

The impact of a complete direct digital marketing strategy – from data centralization to campaign execution – is best seen through a few simple examples.

  • A Simple Shoulder-Stay Promotion with Onsite Targeting Technology

Because online booking is the entry point for a transaction, the booking process must be smooth and easy. However, the booking engine still provides an opportunity to up-sell by offering a shoulder stay package – without disrupting the mandatory ease of the process – using onsite targeting technology. Onsite targeting transforms formerly static space on a webpage into a “live zone” capable of rotating dynamic content based on information like a website visitor’s browsing activity or preferences. If a guest indicates their stay will end on a Friday, use a live zone to offer a discount for the guest to extend the stay through the weekend. If a guest indicates their stay will begin on a Monday, use a live zone to offer incentives for the guest to arrive during the preceding weekend. Using direct digital marketing, a shoulder stay package is easy to setup and maintain for the marketer, but it also delivers value to the guest.

  • Keep Guests Informed with eConcierge Programs

The email channel is most frequently used for building loyalty by virtue of its importance to the prospective guest. But traditional messages and uses of email have grown stale and consumers are becoming less responsive. Direct digital marketing’s data-driven foundation transforms a stagnant email approach into a valuable eConcierge program for guests, demonstrating a guest is not an afterthought once they have booked a room. An eConcierge email program delivers three emails to a guest at regular intervals once they have booked a room. The first email welcomes the guest, the second educates them on amenities and events in the area they may have an interest in, and the third email is an up-sell. Each of the three emails contain smart content based off of known or behavioral data about the guest captured in the universal profile management system. For example, email number one can be a personalized thank you from the property manager while email number two can offer discounts to an on-property restaurant. The final email is ideal for demonstrating an understanding of an individual guests needs with a link to quickly book a tee time at a golf course or an easy room upgrade. Providing every guest with access to an automated, smart, and measurable eConcierge program successfully leverages the email channel to enhance a guest’s experience.

  • Easy Check-In/Check-Out with Mobile Technology

Check-in and check-out are also key components of the guest experience. Simple mobile programs like an express mobile check-in and an express mobile check-out significantly reduce the amount of time a guest is forced to wait in line, opening up time to explore the various amenities available on-property. As guest mobility increases, the ability to communicate with them while they are on-the-go is increasingly important. Providing the opportunity for a guest to sign up for text message alerts while on-property is another way to open a convenient communications channel with a guest.

Direct digital marketing also gives hotel marketers more control and a direct line to the guest and the prospective guest. Online travel agencies are obviously an important sales channel, but the importance of a traditional direct-to-consumer relationship cannot be dismissed. The type of personalization and relevant content that is possible through coordinated direct digital marketing enhances the guest’s experience in addition to securing their business. The ease and simplicity of direct digital marketing means there is no obligation to cede a guest touch point to OTA’s that are by definition incapable of providing the same level of brand immersion and white glove online guest experience that are crucial for building relationships and growing sales.

Every guest interaction with your hotel’s brand is important, making the ability to better control those interactions paramount. Direct digital marketing, based on a foundation of centralized data within a universal profile management system, makes each digital interaction relevant, timely, and valuable to each individual guest.

This article is published by HOTELMARKETING.COM, read the original article here.

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