A common way to connect with customers is through email, whether this is before booking, during the pre-arrival phase, or after the guests has completed a stay and left the property. Done well, this approach can lead to increased bookings, the successful up-selling of additional products and services, and the formation of long term relationships with the customer which can result in many future visits. Done badly, it can annoy your customers, and fail to generate any measurable interest in your hotel.
Before you begin, how are you going to collect customers’ email addresses, and who are you going to send your marketing emails to? This is a question of ethics as much as practice, because the fact that you have a customer’s email address on your system doesn’t mean this customer would welcome your correspondence. It is best to seek permission first, asking the customer if they would like to sign up to receive mail from you in the future. Perhaps you could offer a small incentive to customers to sign up, and let them know you might be making exclusive deals available to your loyal customers.
Once you have the recipients’ consent, the next challenge is to get them to open the email you send. Two factors can make a difference here: the subject line, and when you send it. Your subject line should be short, enticing, perhaps intriguing, and possibly with an added hint of urgency. The customer must want to open it, or feel that they don’t want to miss out on the contents. If you’re sending B2C emails, be aware that most are opened after lunch, and often in the early evening. Mondays are a very bad time as emails tend to build up over the weekend, so recipients may just delete anything that doesn’t seem urgent. Just before the weekend, before the end of the month, or before major holidays are the times when you’re more likely to catch customers in the mood for checking out your offers.
If your customers open your email, the next consideration is the click-through rate – will they actually do what you want them to do? There are three keys here: the call to action, the written content, and the device used. The call to action is simple – if you know what you want the customer to do, then make sure you tell them what to do and how to do it, making the process as clear and easy as possible. The written content is harder. While beautiful prose may look good, studies have shown that simpler language yields better results. Unless your client base is predominantly composed of university professors, leave out the long words and keep the tone warm, friendly, and positive. You want to create an emotional connection, so the use of a few adjectives can help trigger a stronger response.
The final key to click-through is ensuring that your email is optimized for mobile devices. Over half of all emails are opened on a smartphone, and if you don’t take this into consideration you’ll miss out on 50% of your potential customers. The click-through rate has been shown to rise sharply with mobile optimization, while another simple step to take is to make it easy for recipients to share the content through other social media platforms. This way, when you use email marketing to generate extra business during quieter periods, you’ll be bringing your hotel to a wider audience.
You can also use email when you have a booking from a customer but you would like to offer a promotion which might entice them to use your spa or F & B outlets during their stay. You can create a positive impression by sending a pre-arrival message to welcome them to your hotel. When the customer leaves, you can send a message to thank them for their stay, and perhaps request feedback or an online review.
If all of this seems like a lot of work, remember that the best property management system software on the market will enable you to automate much of the process, using customer data to target your offers to the right people. You can also analyze the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns so you can make small adjustments in the future to achieve better results. As part of a carefully crafted strategy, email marketing can help to increase your revenues. Just don’t overdo it.