When it comes to hotel or accommodation management, the most important item after revenue is data. In this current day and age this might not be surprising, but are you using your data to maximise occupancy, increase revenue and improve your guest experience? Have you considered how data driven marketing could help you increase guest loyalty and more importantly your revenue?
First things first – who actually owns your guest data? You? Or a third party? Guest bookings can drop into your hotel or accommodation business in a multitude of ways; from direct bookings, OTA, GDS, metasearch, wholesale and more. Whilst having a third-party strategy is healthy and necessary to compliment your direct booking strategy, are you relying too heavily on third parties? Are you perhaps missing out on valuable data that they’re collecting from your guests and which they’re not sharing with you?
After you determine what data you own, you need to focus on growing your data capture as this will give you a bigger “data pool” to work with.
Third-party conversion strategy (data growing)
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll most likely have a split of direct and third-party bookings. Your third-party bookings don’t allow you to own the guest data, even though they are your guest, staying at your property. The data from these guests belongs to the booking channel through which the guest made their reservation. So how can you obtain that data? There are a few ways to convert third-party data to direct data, one of which is at the time of check-in. When the guest fills out the registration form, ask them whether they would like to join your mailing list by using a check box on the form. If they have opted-in to the mailing list, you can then add them to your database. Another method is to implement a third-party conversion strategy to make sure your guests see how appealing it is to book directly with you next time. This could be as simple as a direct-booking best-price promise, through a value-add or anything else that convinces the guest that booking direct with you is more appealing than using a third-party. This will result in you owning the guest data from the point of booking rather than when they arrive at your property. Get creative, have fun and remember beating a third-party price by offering value adds isn’t discounting your rate, it’s saving you from paying commissions.
Now that you have that data here are 5 ways to utilise data driven marketing strategies.
Studies* have shown that loyal guests stay longer and pay more. So, ensure you’re turning every guest into a loyal guest and make their stay memorable – for all the right reasons. As important as data is, the guest experience will retain the guests. Here are 5 ways you can utilise data driven marketing to retain guests:
1. Remarketing – During quiet periods you can use your past-guest data and send them an enticing offer to stay again. As it’s to a Closed User Group (CUG), your offer can be as sharp as you want it to be, as it’s not advertised publicly on other distribution channels.
2. Guest Experience – Use your data to find out personalised information about your guests to improve their experience with you. Are they a red wine drinker? Include a voucher for a glass of red for them on check-in. have you noticed that they always book an entry-level mountain view room? Upgrade them to the next room type FOC as a value add. Do they like to eat out, dine in or use the spa facilities? Create specialised offers to appeal to them specifically, and in turn encourage them to book direct. Keep in mind guest experience begins from the moment they book with you and you begin communicating with them.
3. Geotargeting – Geo what? You can use your data to see the location your guests are coming from in order to maximise your marketing spend. Are most of your guests coming to you from a drive-market – within 1-3 hours’ drive? Then stop wasting money on interstate or international advertising, and instead focus on building your base business by increasing your marketing spend in this area.
4. Maximise Revenue with Trends – Does your historical data show trends that you can use to forecast and maximise occupancy and revenue? For example, what is your average booking window? Use this information to strategically plan campaigns or offers to your CUG. Is your average length of stay (ALOS) short stay or long stay – greater than 7 days? What can you do to extend short stay bookings? Look at historical data when a large event is coming to town and use it to help you set the right rate to maximise your occupancy and revenue. Was it a sell-out event last year? Did you fill early on, due to demand? Then you can probably afford to lift your rates even earlier again this year.
5. Guest Sentiment – Data doesn’t have to be all numbers and stats. Online reviews can be a love/hate relationship with accommodation providers. However, outside of responding to the reviews, the best way to tackle them is to use the reviews to your advantage. Use the positive ones to understand why guests come to you (view/service/location etc) and maximise on this. Share these great reviews on your social channels. Even the negative ones are valuable, use this information and understand your guest sentiment – if the slow WIFI repeatedly gets mentioned, it’s time to look at your WIFI to improve guest experience. Cleanliness or service letting you down? Collate the information and use the data to improve your property and service.
To guarantee you are getting the most out of your data, it is important that you are using the right software for your business. Ensuring that all your software is integrated seamlessly, preferably all built by the one provider, will give you cleaner and more qualified data to work with. Using add on products through various providers will only provide a basic outcome. Whereas using tailored products built from the get go to work cohesively as one, will always ensure you have total control over your business.
Data can be overwhelming and daunting, but it is invaluable to your business as it enables you to deliver strategic and smart data driven marketing. Take onboard what the data is showing you and use it to your benefit, to always be one step ahead of your competitors.