Great communication is the key to developing a strong and long-lasting relationship.
NB: This is an article from Fuel Marketing
If you approach your messaging strategy from the perspective of wanting to provide value to your guests, then you’re going to avoid some of the mistakes that a lot of properties make. You’ll reduce the need for spray-and-pray messaging, you’ll reduce your reliance on OTAs, and you’ll make more money from each and every guest, while simultaneously making them happier and more loyal.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and stay up to date
In this article, we’ll break down the types of automated and personalized messages that you can send to guests at specific points in the travel journey. Keep in mind that we’re not just talking about email. Depending on the context, the situation, and the individual, these messages could be sent via email, SMS, or push notification to your hotel branded mobile app.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will get you moving in the right direction.
RELATIONSHIP BUILDING MESSAGES
Early in the relationship, you need to appear to be helpful and to have the guest’s best interest at heart. This is not the time to be doing any hard selling. Date the guest a little before you try to sleep with them.
1. Welcome Message at Signup
Every good relationship needs to begin on the right foot. When a potential guest does decide to provide you with their personal information, you need to start a conversation and set the tone for the relationship. The welcome message is often overlooked but it is one of the most important messages you can implement. Hopefully, you’ve already set the appropriate expectations with the guest on the signup form. They should know when, how, and what you intend to communicate with them. It’s a good idea to reinforce this expectation within the welcome message and also show them appreciation for making the choice to trust you with their private data.
In addition, this is an opportunity for you to sell them on the value proposition by highlighting some of the reasons that people like to stay with your property, For example, if you offer free breakfast/parking/wi-fi or if you’ve received great reviews or if you’re in a great location. Make sure that this information is conveyed in a clear and succinct manner so that it’s easy for the guest to digest in a fraction of a second.
The welcome message can also be an opportunity to encourage direct bookings by stating a lowest rate guarantee or displaying incentives for booking direct.
Finally, as with every message, make sure there’s a call-to-action or a clear next path. That could be in the form of a link to the booking engine, a specific special offer, or to quality content such as the top 10 things people like about your property.
2. Requesting More Information
Relationships tend to get tighter as you learn more about each other. Your ability to serve the guest will also improve if you know more about someone’s habits and preferences. If a guest doesn’t return to your site or book within a couple of days of signing up, it can be effective to reach out proactively and rekindle the conversation. A simple way to do this may be to send a personal message introducing the guest to the GM. Write it in the first-person, as if it’s actually coming from them and tell the guest a little bit about the GM and the property and simply ask for some reciprocal information in return. Tell the guest how much you would like to host them at the property and say that you’d like to learn a little more about them in order to serve them better. Don’t over do it, but you could start by asking their first/last name (if you don’t already have it, their zip code, who they would be travelling with (solo, friends, partner, kids, etc), you could ask them if the trip would be business or pleasure, why they are coming to town, what their interests are, do they have special requests, there’s really no limit. Just be sure to ask questions that are relevant and that will help you better serve them. Avoid asking self-serving questions that will benefit you but not the guest.
Once someone has made a booking, the rules of engagement fundamentally change. You can now leverage the fact that the guest has made a decision to stay with you and you can capitalize on the fact that they are likely very excited about their trip. The other consideration is that the big purchase is out of the way and there’s now an opportunity to gain incremental revenue that doesn’t feel as painful and actually improves the guests overall satisfaction.
While almost every property sends an automated confirmation message, very few take advantage of the fact that this message typically receives the highest open rate of all messages a property can send. You have a captive audience, be sure to take advantage of it by not just showing the itinerary.
Firstly, there’s always the risk of someone changing their mind or having buyers remorse. You can reduce the risk of cancellations by reassuring the guest within the confirmation message that they made a great decision to book with you and that you’re excited for their arrival. This could be in the form of including typical weather conditions, events, and previous guest reviews.
The confirmation message should help set their expectations for their visit. Include check-in times, what they’ll need with them to check in, parking information, offer useful information such as the fact that they can leave their luggage with the front desk and go on to enjoy the amenities if they arrive early.
If you’re property has a mobile app, this is a good opportunity to encourage guests to download it by telling them the benefits and making it easy for them to find it.
Also, try to anticipate the questions that a guest may have between booking and arriving. Speak with your reservation and front desk staff and formulate a list of frequently asked questions and provide that content within the confirmation email. You probably won’t be able to anticipate every question so be sure to include contact information prominently within the message.
Finally, the guest is now excited and anticipating the stay and the property should both encourage and share in that excitement Tell them how much you’re looking forward to hosting them and give them an idea of the hospitality that you intend to provide to them. You oould possibly provide a countdown to their stay..
Once the transaction is made, the purse strings are typically at their loosest. During the booking process, a guest may have wanted to stick to the ocean view room as opposed to splurging on the ocean front room because it took their total from $800 to $1000. However, as their stay approaches, it may make sense for you to upsell an existing guest on a nicer room to free up the lower-rate inventory, which may be easier to sell closer to the date of stay. So, offering a room upgrade for $20/night may now become an attractive proposition for the guest.
Other additional services or add-ons can also help generate incremental revenue at the same time as improving the guest’s overall experience. Many properties now offer add-ons such as wine or champagne in the room, breakfast, show tickets, and even early check-in or late check-out when it makes sense.
The upsell is sometimes combined with pre-arrival messages, but we recommend doing it as a stand-alone and also including some upsell opportunities in every pre-arrival message.
Just be sure that the guests feel the value in what you’re offering and don’t try to price gouge.