A GUIDE TO HOTEL MARKETING
(Posted 05th January 2022)
By Kennedy Uduny
As a hotelier, you work hard to create personal connections with your on-property guests. From check-in to check-out, everything you do is intended to build strong relationships with guests so they will want to return again and again. But what about when they’re not on property? For hoteliers who care about driving repeat business, it is critical that you communicate with guests throughout the entire customer journey, from pre-arrival to post-stay, in a personal and meaningful way.
For Hotels, one of the most effective and powerful ways to connect with customers is through email marketing. Email marketing is dead! Millennials don’t like email! Social media is where the buyers are! Actually, none of these statements could be further from the truth. Even after all these years, email marketing continues to be the most reliable, effective, and cost-efficient way to communicate with guests. For hoteliers, email remains the best channel for building guest relationships, reducing dependency on online travel agencies (OTAs), and increasing direct bookings.
Myth: Email Marketing is Dead. While this is not true, the old way of marketing with generic blasts to your entire database is most certainly dead. Today’s email marketing is personal and should feel more like one-on-one communications with your guests.
Status of email Marketing
Email is the dominant channel for customer acquisition and customer retention across industries, and hospitality is no exception. For example, a 2017 survey from Demand Metric found that 100% of U.S. marketers working in travel and hospitality used email marketing. It’s also the most preferred communication channel by millennials and has a 3x higher conversion rate than social media. Given these results, it’s not surprising that email marketing spend in the U.S. is expected to grow from $2.07B in 2014 to $3.07B in 2020.
Myth: Mobile Isn’t Important. Nope—wrong. As of 2017, about 6 in 10 users now access email exclusively from mobile devices.
Advantages of Email Marketing
Hoteliers should invest in email marketing for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it provides a cost-effective solution to many hotel marketing challenges. Email marketing leverages existing data, provides a faster feedback loop, and can provide measurable real-time results. Let’s break it down, shall we?
High Return: Email continues to deliver the highest ROI of all digital marketing channels—more than 4x higher than other marketing channels, including social media, direct mail, and paid search. This makes email extremely cost-effective.
Existing Data: Hotels are sitting on a gold mine of data, and email can empower marketing teams to actually transform that data into revenue. When properly utilized, data in your property management system (PMS) allows you to send customized campaigns based on a guest’s travel habits, spending behaviour, and personal preferences. Since targeted campaigns have higher open and click rates than generic blast emails, these are more likely to increase direct bookings and incremental revenue.
Faster Feedback: Email provides a fast feedback loop for testing and learning. Since results can be measured immediately, it’s easy to test promotions, pricing, and messaging to optimize performance. Learnings can also be applied to other digital mediums for additional impact.
Measurable Results: Unlike most traditional channels, email marketing produces measurable results and offers better revenue attribution than many marketing efforts. Because of this, email helps you ‘fail fast’—one of our favourite expressions. If something isn’t working or you didn’t get the results you were hoping for, try something else!
Email Marketing Objectives
Before launching or re-launching an email strategy, it’s important to have clear objectives in mind so you can set key performance indicators (KPIs) and accurately measure your success. A strong email marketing strategy should incorporate at least one, if not all, of these three goals: raising brand awareness, driving traffic, and increasing revenue.
Raise Brand Awareness: Want more people to recall your brand or have it top-of-mind? Raising brand awareness is about driving visibility and staying in front of guests when they’re not on the property. The more guests are exposed to brand-centric designs, imagery, messaging, and overall brand voice, the more they are likely to remember your property when it’s time to make their next booking to your destination. Brand awareness campaigns are typically aspirational in tone and centred around powerful photography. The email shows prospects what makes the hotel or brand unique, educates them about the offerings of the property, and captures what makes guests want to stay there. While an offer may be included, it’s not necessarily needed or appropriate with these awareness campaigns.
Drive Traffic: Emails focused on driving traffic aim to guide prospects to a specific webpage, blog, or landing page for additional content or action. These campaigns entice guests to look at promotional packages, restaurant menus, upcoming events, photo galleries, etc. For example, the email might talk about a low season promotion and provide some details about the rate, but require the guest to click through to check availability. Traffic campaigns are measured based on how many unique users click a link within the email body. Represented as a click-through rate (CTR), this is the primary metric marketers use to measure the success of email campaigns. It’s also easy to compare across campaigns.
Increase Revenue: Emails focused on revenue aim to drive guests to complete some type of goal or conversion on the hotel’s website. This can include booking a stay, upgrading their rooms, purchasing amenities, or signing up for an event. Conversion-focused goals are typically the most sought-after metrics marketers want to see, but they are also the most difficult to set up and track.
Look out for next article as we talk about the Top Email Marketing Challenges hoteliers face.