Increasing competition in today’s online business climate has necessitated more diversified marketing and distribution strategies for hotel operators. But while it’s important for hotel marketers and revenue managers to consider both traditional and emerging opportunities, the costs associated with marketing your hotel through multiple channels can add up.
Enter email marketing – one of the most viable, cost-effective methods for reaching guests and increasing direct bookings. Just as travellers can now plan their trip using the endless information offered online, including through Google, hotels can also look to take simple steps to plan for their guests’ arrivals.
In part 1 of this blog series, I’ll be discussing tips on how to more effectively leverage the capabilities of email as part of your overall marketing strategy to promote your hotel and increase revenue.
1. Target repeat guests
Not only is it easier to target repeat business than to generate new leads, it’s less expensive too; statistics show that attracting new guests can cost you five to eight times as much as retaining existing ones. In fact, the Preferred Hotel Group estimates that up to 60% of revenue in their top-performing hotels is from repeat visitors.
Why not offer return guests special package deals and time-sensitive reward program benefits to increase your revenue?
2. Take advantage of peak periods
Guests are more likely to look for rooms in the run-up to peak periods, so use this time to remind them why they should book with you with holiday-themed emails, special discounts and personalised incentives. Lean on your PMS data to identify spikes in room occupancy in order to send targeted, seasonal emails – particularly to previous high-spenders. It is during those peak periods that you are also more likely to attract new guests.
Be sure to identify your niche and ideal customer; this makes targeting much more streamlined and effective.
3. Remember customer data is key
Nowadays, every customer who books a hotel room online understands they must be willing to provide their email address (in order to receive their confirmation email and other important information from the hotel). Always collect this data at the time of booking or check-in and use it to follow up with your customers in a timely fashion. For example, by sending out emails with exclusive deals and time-sensitive offers, you can upsell and create cross-market opportunities for increased revenues.
4. Optimise your send times
Personalise and send emails that relate directly to your guests’ needs and preferences. In particular, be mindful of which time zone they’re in and send emails when they’re most likely to be receptive. While Experian research shows that emails sent on Fridays have the highest click-through rate (CTR) and those sent on Mondays generate the most revenue, it’s important to experiment with different days and times to find what’s most effective for you.
By harnessing the power of marketing automation software, you can analyse your CTR and other metrics in order to help fine-tune the timing of your email campaigns.
5. Use short and direct subject lines
30% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone. To make your emails more engaging, use short and direct subject lines with clear benefits, so customers are encouraged to open your email and find out what’s inside. Using a marketing automation tool you can easily test different subject lines with, and measure your open and click-through rates to compare how different marketing campaigns perform.
6. Use a call-to-action (CTA) and encourage replies
The most effective marketing emails engage the reader with CTAs and incentives, for example:
- Invitations to book directly on your website in exchange for vouchers and other incentives
- Requests for feedback in exchange for discounts or the chance to win a prize
- Personalised, time-sensitive offers and rewards that encourage guests to “act now”.
A friendly CTA combined with a personalised message helps to encourage click-throughs and responses.
Email marketing should be an important part of your hotel’s overall, and ongoing, marketing strategy. Remember: with every email you are building a relationship with your customer. By taking the time to send personalised and relevant communications, guests will feel valued and want to book with you.