The Internet has forever changed how the hotel industry operates. Thanks to online travel agencies (OTAs) and other indirect booking services, people can easily find and book rooms from anywhere in the world anytime of the day or night. But since indirect services often keep guest data to themselves, they can significantly hamper your hotels’ marketing efforts. Without names, phone numbers and email addresses, few options remain for you to reach your guests. So how can you capture this valuable hotel guest data? Luckily, this blog is about to provide some of the answers.
Start with a CRM Solution
At the top of any data gathering list (including this one) is finding – and using – a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. Any serious effort to collect and organize hotel guest data for marketing purposes requires an investment. It’s an easy mistake to invest the time and effort in collecting guest data while giving no thought to where you will store it and/or how you will access it. Here are a few points to consider:
Make sure your CRM solution can connect with your other tech investments, like your Property Management System (PMS) and your Central Reservation System (CRS). When these systems don’t work together, data isn’t shared correctly and parts of the guest story are lost.
A proper integration gives you accurate hotel revenue attribution and past stay data, which leads to more targeted and effective marketing to both guests and agents. A clear view of the guest journey from how they booked to the details of their stay and checkout can provide valuable insight into improving the guest experience and marketing messaging.
Make Your Websites Work Harder
Great websites are more than just room photos, property features and a direct booking channel – they are also important sources of guest data. Start with a careful review of every page to make sure you’re making it easy and convenient for website visitors to book reservations directly on your site. This is the easiest way to get reservations – and gather hotel guest data – without spending more on marketing.
- Include multiple calls-to-action for both booking and “contact us.” Make sure your contact forms require at least a name, email address and phone number.
- Consider offering a live chat box (human-powered or AI-powered) so guests can ask questions and make reservations. Again, require a name and email address before guests can begin their chat.
- Make sure your websites are optimized for mobile. The latest research shows that 40% of U.S. travel-related website visits originate on mobile devices.
The Front Desk is Your Front Line
Your Front Desk staff are key players in guest data collection and must be trained to gather and input data using your CRM system.
- When guests make reservations over the phone, ask for their email address. This bit of information, more than any other, becomes an essential tool for marketing to guests later.
- If you don’t have a guest’s email address before their stay, make an effort to capture it during check-in. This can be used immediately to send coupons, promotions or loyalty program info (all of which are also reason enough to request email from a guest). Start that conversation!
- If you have a text messaging service to handle guest communication, you’ll also capture more guest phone numbers. Train the front desk teams to always present this as an option if you have it.
- Anytime a guest makes a request or purchase – in person or over the phone – it needs to be logged and organized in your CRM.
Take Advantage of Technology
When it comes to gathering hotel guest data, your website and front desk are likely the largest sources. But today’s online, digital world provides dozens, if not hundreds, of other options, including these three:
- Mobile Apps If your hotels have a mobile app, you have a gold mine of guest data. In order to use your app, you should require that guests provide an email or connect to their social media account. But you have to give your guests a reason to want – or, better yet, need – your app. Providing mobile key technology is one way. If guests can enter their room using their phone, they’re highly likely to download the app (and register!). But there’s also mobile check-in, messaging, smart device controls (TV or the thermostat) and more.
- Social Media If you’re not tracking your likes, comments and shares, you should. These posts will quickly reveal exactly what guests love (or don’t love) about your hotels. And if you utilize a partner like BCV or Local Measure, you can even create customer profiles based on who engages with your social pages to better understand the distinct groups of people who are your core customers.
- Loyalty Programs When people join a hotel loyalty program, they usually expect perks and a more personalized experience – and in exchange are often willing to share personal information. Loyalty members not only share their contact information, but their purchasing behavior as well. They get deals, and you get to learn about their travel habits, spending and preferences so you can personalize your marketing (see next subhead).
Make It Personal
Behavioral data can help you better reach your guests with the right message at the right time. With integrated systems, your marketing team can leverage guest data to drive increased personalization and relevancy. This practice has proven over and over to yield greater results.
- Targeted emails produce 30% more opens and 50% more click-throughs than mass market campaigns.
- 76% of revenue attributed to email marketing comes from the more advanced, personalized emails vs. generic, one-size-fits-all efforts.
- According to a study by American Express, 83% of Millennials said they would let travel brands track their digital patterns if this would provide them with a more personalized experience. In the same study, 85% of respondents of all ages thought that personalized itineraries were much more desirable than general, mass-market offerings.
Gathering data is not just about email addresses and phone numbers. The goal is to start a conversation with your guests, create long-lasting relationships, and provide a personalized experience with your hotel brand. Afterall, these people have already been to one of your hotels; you want to make sure they come back.