Close the Guests Journey Loop: Engagement, Retention, and Acquisition

Today’s hotel planning and guests booking journey is becoming increasingly complex in this multi-device, multi-channel and multi-touch point digital landscape. In fact, according to Google, the average consumer engages in 38,983 digital micro-moments in just under two months. That’s over 38,000 digital moments in a 60-day booking window. As consumers are living their lives digitally connected throughout these digital micro-moments, when they embark on the travel planning journey, which on average, includes 19 different touchpoints before making a booking (Google research), each one of these touchpoints presents an opportunity for a hotel to build a brand connection, influence intent, and be there for every step of the journey.

In light of this complex digital landscape, hotel marketers should engage online travel consumers throughout their complex “digital journey”, and can no longer afford to have a fragmented customer engagement and acquisition approach.

What exactly today’s typical fragmented approach look like?

One glaring example of this highly fragmented approach is keeping past guest engagement efforts (CRM) in a silo from new customer acquisition and marketing efforts. How could that be? Less than a third of hotel guests on any given night are repeat guests, while two-thirds are first-time guests. This means the reality that General Managers and DOSMs face every day is having to secure about 70% of occupancy on any given night with brand new guests that they know very little about while trying to ensure they have a pleasant and meaningful stay. Furthermore, once the property has acquired this new guest, when the guest walks out the door, there is no guarantee they will ever stay again resulting in a vicious cycle that affects the bottom line.

Here are some stark examples of today’s fragmented approach:

  • Hotel Website: The property knows “intimately” their guests: their home address, credit card number, what they ate or how many drinks they had last night, and more. Yet, when these same guests visit the hotel website, they are treated as complete strangers.
  • Data Islands: Your property customer data lives in multiple “data islands” that do not talk to each other: PMS, CRM, CRS, Social Media, Web Analytics, Marketing Data, BI, etc. In other words, your past guest data (CRM Data) is not being utilized to engage and retain past guests, as well as target new guests and sharpen the focus and reach of your digital marketing campaigns, in order to acquire new guests that are similar to your past “best guests.”
  • RFM: Practically non-existent capabilities to identify the property’s “best guests” (High RFM Value) and engage them throughout their hotel planning and booking journey, and throughout the customer lifetime, as well as use this knowledge to acquire new “best guests”.
  • Technology & Digital Marketing Silos: The hotel uses a myriad of vendors that do not “talk to each other”, and in many cases do not even know each other: one for CRM, one for the property website, a third for SEO, a fourth for SEM, a fifth for online media, another one for social media marketing, etc. Managing digital marketing campaigns without taking into consideration who your past guests are, who are your “best” guests (Ex. highest RFM Value), their preferences, stay and booking behavior and failing to capitalize on these insights to fuel digital marketing campaigns to reach the right guest.
  • CRM Data not “talking” to Intent Data: Knowledge from past “best” guests is not being used to identify “Marketing Personas” and target look-alike audiences thus significantly expanding the marketing reach to acquire new guests that are similar to your “best” past guests and are “in market” i.e. planning to travel to the property’s destination.

These are just a few examples of how digital and data silos are “revenue blockers” fragmenting the direct online channel in hospitality today. It is no longer just about having a design firm build the hotel website, having another agency launch marketing initiatives, and another manage the CRM efforts.

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