At one time, it used to be sufficient to simply collect the names, addresses and payment information of your guests and accept that as all the detail you needed to know. After all, as long as they paid and you could trace them if they didn’t, what else was really necessary? Today, times have definitely changed and the information you gather about your guests needs to be used as marketing fodder – not just to make their stay better but to attract new visitors too.There is so much competition that hotels need to be on top of who their guests are in order to ensure they are providing the best possible service now and in the future.
Knowing exactly who is checking in will allow you to align your operations with their booking behaviours and predict who might be coming your way in the months ahead. Data to start with TripAdvisor recently surveyed more than 36,000 people across the globe and found that travellers will spend anywhere between one and three months researching their trips, especially at the weekends when they mainly take to their mobile devices to do so. Some 48 per cent start by choosing a destination and booking a flight, then leave other travel-related purchases such as their hotels until afterwards – although accommodation is typically the next thing on the list.
However, some 13 per cent of people reported that they book quickly with very little planning and research. Even this information can be useful when it comes to taking a data-driven approach to attracting guests. If you know hotels are second on the to-do list after flights, then why not start up partnerships with airlines, try targeted social media ads or produce blog articles on topics including ‘top tips on how to book a holiday’ or ‘you’ve got your flights, what’s next?’? All of this may be valuable in terms of better lead generation and building a relationship with would-be travellers right from the start. Data from existing guests Although we have discussed before that you shouldn’t aim to collect as much information as you can from your guests while they are completing the booking process, it is important to try and build up a picture of who they are after they have taken out their credit card and made a reservation. You can take their email addresses and then target them for future marketing campaigns using their preferences while they stayed with you, such as discounted rates or offers on room service. Questionnaires are a good method to use here, as they will deliver even more behavioural insights, so do remember to leave them in the rooms or proffer them at check-in and/or checkout.
Finally, do consider making the most of social media and asking people to follow you, as this will help to collect additional information and check out what people are saying about you online, something that can in turn be used to improve guests’ stays in the future. Changes to your website based on new data As you collect new data on your current guests and become more knowledgeable about how to target future travellers, it’s a good idea to stay on top of making corresponding changes to your website in order to ensure your marketing messages and goals are all aligned.Once you know how people go about researching their holidays (which you can glean from places like Instagram), you can provide the information that you know will persuade them to make a reservation with you instead of continuing to research accommodation.It’s also possible to engage with them after you’ve got them inspired by providing benefits if they book with you direct – and you’ll know which ones to offer thanks to your big data.
For instance, if you know families are looking for good value breaks, incentivise them with a discount code, or encourage thrill-seekers with a free scuba-diving lesson.Another good tip is to add more calls to action throughout your site, thinking more along the lines of newsletter sign-ups as opposed to overly pushy ‘book now’ buttons, as this will allow you to collect more email addresses to target with your future offers.Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of techniques like search engine optimisation , adding metadata to your articles and considering social media pay-per-click ads, as these will all support your data gathering and should result in improved bookings. Hotels must collect data at every opportunity and use it to compile statistics that will help them identify their guests and appeal to their ideal demographic by tweaking their offerings and services. It is the best way of fine-tuning personalised stays that will leave visitors raving about their hotel and passing on recommendations with word of mouth.
Smart marketing includes the use of data to reach prospective guests at every touch point in the booking funnel – and it should target them whether they’re hoping to have a holiday in two weeks’ time or are simply daydreaming on a boring workday about the trips they could have. We’ve now moved far beyond those early days of minimal collection – so what information could you mine to improve the revenues at your hotel?