Digitalisation has brought choice to consumers. It has raised both their expectations and impatience. I’m sure you’ve heard that our attention spans are now shorter than those of goldfish, and as digitalisation and technology continue to advance, consumers will only become harder to impress.
So how do you hook the mobile obsessed, mile-a-minute, millennial traveller? And once hooked, how do you impress them and keep them loyal? You need to know what they want before they ask for it. You need to get personal.
- 90% of hoteliers say their guests will expect stays to be personalised by 2020 1
- 74% of online consumers are frustrated with irrelevant website messages 1
- 90% of millennials would be willing to provide details about their personal preferences to receive targeted marketing if there was an incentive 2
1. Get social media savvy
The first step is to pinpoint exactly what your potential guests want and the kinds of promotions they would like to see. Here’s where the first complication arises. The hotel sector’s customer base is so wide and complex, how can you possibly distinguish individual customer profiles?
Yet it’s not impossible. In fact, with constant digital advances and our growing dependence on the internet, it’s easier to get to know your customer than you might have expected.
Just jump on social media. 2.5 billion out of 2.8 billion social media users globally access social profiles through their mobiles 3. Take the time to look into your potential guests’ social media profiles and use the information you find to improve their customer experience.
Get to know which services your guests prefer by monitoring how they interact with your brand on social media. For example, if a guest tags you in a picture of the meal they were served at your restaurant, you should consider sending them discount on the next meal they have with you, or offer them a complimentary restaurant voucher if they book direct to stay with you again.
You can also carry out ‘social listening’, that is to view your guests’ social media pages and activity, to strengthen your understanding of their values, priorities and ultimately, what they want from you. For example, by having a look at their Instagram account, you may be able to suss out whether they are a foodie, a gym or spa enthusiast or whether they prioritise the surrounding environment and landscapes. You can then send them personalised offers based on their preferences.
2. Use personalisation to create a seamless guest experience
It’s no longer a secret that customer data is no secret. Yet customers are willing for accommodation providers to use that data, so long as it improves their guest experience, for example in the form of targeted discounts and recommendations. According to Mintel 2, 60% of millennials are willing to provide details about their personal preferences and habits in order to receive relevant and targeted marketing, and 90% would do so if there was an incentive. More than that, today’s consumers expect this level of personalisation and take it for granted that you should know when to contact them and what to contact them about.
In short, you need to recognise and respect the value of your guests’ data and use it to be clever with your marketing. The Killarney Park Hotel, for example, has recently adopted Avvio’s personalisation toolkit to personalise their booking engine. Picking up on stored guest data, the Killarney Park Hotel’s booking engine recommends targeted dates, rates and upsells to returning site visitors and helps to strengthen the bond between the hotel and their guests. To date, this has had a positive impact on their conversion rate and since January their direct bookings through the personalised booking engine has grown by 60%. See the full case study.
3. Gain their loyalty
As a key technique to encourage direct and repeat bookings from guests, hotel loyalty programmes need to be as attractive as possible. This isn’t done by offering more complimentary and discounted items. After all, if none of these offers are for services that match the guest’s interests, they aren’t likely to build much of an incentive. The most important thing is to ensure that loyalty incentives are relevant to each individual guest, so they’re more likely to convert. You can do this effectively through a coordinated personalisation strategy.
According to PwC 4, 40% of business travellers and 27% of leisure travellers say that a personalised experience (such as remembering the room they enjoyed on a previous stay, or extra amenities used, and offering these again during the booking process) impacts their choice of loyalty programme.
As Emily Collins, a senior analyst for Forrester research, told the New York Times 5 in 2016, while discounts matter, consumers “overwhelmingly say they want special treatment and offers not available to others in a loyalty program… They come for the perks, but they stay for the experience.”
Personalisation is still only in its early stages and as smart data becomes even smarter, we can expect the software to shape accommodation providers’ business and marketing strategies. But how close is too close when it comes to personalising your guests’ experience, and how will the technology impact the travel industry in the years to come? For expert insight on the state of personalisation in the hotel industry, look out for The Power of Personal, Avvio’s free full report coming out later this month. In the meantime, see how The Killarney Park Hotel has used personalisation to drive direct bookings and improve guest loyalty.
1 The Power of Personal. Grant Thornton, 2016. (More information here)
2 Sixty percent of millennials willing to share personal info with brands. Mintel, March 2014. (More information here)
3 New Research Reveals Global Social Media Use Increased by 21 Percent in 2016. Hootsuite, January 2017. (More information here)
4 What’s driving customer loyalty for today’s hotel brands? PWC, 2016.
(More information here)
5 Cultivating Brand Loyalty in Even the Toughest Customer. The New York Times, June 2016. (More information here)