Most marketers spend their time thinking about how to create effective email campaigns. But what is the best way for hotels? Should you focus on branded messages or personalize each one specifically made with an individual guest in mind? In this blog post we’ll take a closer look at how enhanced personalization helps hotel marketers increase return booking rates by +60% and decrease their reliance on expensive OTAs.
Currently, most hotel email campaigns are highly visual with minimal personalization, but this can be a mistake. Consumers are very familiar with email automation that’s used by their favourite brands. Seemingly everywhere we shop online now sends us emails to nurture the relationship and encourage us to keep shopping. As a result, we have all gotten very good at spotting and filtering out automated personalization and focus our attention on messages that appear to come from a human.
Let’s look at the examples below from the Landmark hotel and Clink Hostels.
It’s not difficult for the reader to identify both of these as automated mailshots. None of us would use ‘Dear friend’ to open an email! Clink Hostels at least uses our first name to open the mail, but the lack of any other personal details let us know that we’re part of a campaign. Branded emails highlighting promotions and discounts are valuable marketing activities that every hotel should be using but they do little to nurture relationships with guests. In addition, branded mailshots get far lower open rates than highly personalised emails – 42% lower!
The key traits of personalized email communications
People are used to receiving lots of spam emails, so we’ve all gotten good at identifying the emails that we should ignore. There are a litany of ways that email personalization helps our guests identify our emails as open-worthy. First and foremast, hoteliers need to give users a reason to open their marketing emails – to do this think about the types of subject lines emails from your colleagues and partners have. Do they have special characters, emojis and randomly capitalized words or are they more natural, written as a summary of the email?
When it comes to the body of the email, we should remember that value doesn’t always come from discounts or perks. Relevant updates or news about upcoming events that a guest may be interested in can also be valuable and go much further to build a positive relationship with guests. Most hoteliers are already trying to do this by using segmented, branded campaigns but again let’s look at two examples.
Would you prefer to receive 4 separate e-shots each targeted at a demographic that you are a part of, or would you find it more engaging to receive the email below?
It’s been to long since your last visit but, thankfully, summer will be here again before we know it and we would love to welcome you and your family back again this summer. We’ve updated our leisure facilities over the winter so there are more activities for children than ever!
We still have several family friendly units available during the school holidays, but they are popular units, so I’d encourage you to act now whilst they’re available. To thank you for your continued loyalty, we’d like to ensure you get our best rate – a 10% discount off our best rates which you can access using the code below:
If you would like to discuss other options for your summer break, then you can reach me by responding to this email or by phone at 01626 859 691.
In a single mail we can add 5 different elements of personalization using data that we have on our guests – name, group demographics, interest in leisure, stayed in a single-family unit, travel during the school holidays.
Now that we have the right messaging, its critical that we get the timing right. Another reason that segmented e-shots aren’t hugely effective is that it requires us to target everyone on that list at the same time. Until recently, it would have been unfeasible for hoteliers to send guest emails based on the best timing for the guest and not the best timing for the marketing team. Thankfully, this is no longer true.
By using a guest’s past booking activity, we can identify an individuals likely future booking patterns, which enables us to target them with a highly personalized message at just the right time. Again, lets look at an example.
The most reliable booking pattern that we see in our clients’ guest data is people shopping for summer trips with their family at the same time each year. Those of us with children are highly likely to travel at the same time each year, during the school holidays, but as a group we book at vary timings. Some book very early, soon after they have returned from their latest trip, others book early in the New Year once the costs of Christmas have passed while some choose to shop far closer to arrival.
The limitation of sending a family e-shot to this diverse group is that for some we’ll be reaching out far too early and for others, far too late. Weedle uses prior guest behaviour to determine the best time to reach out to each guest for each booking pattern, whether it be summer trips with the family or winter weekend breaks without the kids.
Even the day of the week and time of day can be tailored based on the information we have on guests to maximize open rates. Weedle looks at the prior behaviour of guests, the location of each guest and the demographics of each guest to make sure we are landing in the inbox at just the right time. This helps hotels time their email, so they aren’t reaching out in the middle of the night or during times of day when guests are likely to be busy. For example, a young guest without children is far easier to reach in the morning before work than a guest that travels with two children.
Summing it all up
Email marketing is one of a hotelier’s most powerful tools, but only if their emails are being opened. Hoteliers need to carefully think through what value they can offer through email, and then make sure to focus on personalization rather than design and imagery. Of course, any of the above is possible with enough time but having the latest tech tools makes building long term relationships with guests that much easier and more scalable.