By Eric Reece – Creative Director at Cendyn
Your hotel CRM is a wealth of useful information about your guests’ digital identities. These ‘guestprints’ are powerful personal frameworks for conversion-primed marketing strategies.
Personalisation is key to success in the highly competitive world of hotel marketing. When one property does a better job of crafting a message that’s relevant and delivered at the right moment, it not only earns revenue. It also earns the soft trust of the guest and deepens that direct relationship. Success comes from knowing your guest and translating that knowledge into resonant messaging that drives results.
As technology sits at the centre of daily hotel operations, proper personalisation means utilising the data we have on our guests to create targeted and effective marketing campaigns. This is where customer relationship management (CRM) data comes into play.
There’s a depth of knowledge that sits within your hotel’s CRM data, providing clear digital identities that provide the foundation for personalised marketing communications at scale. By analysing guest profiles and identifying patterns and trends in their behaviour, hotels can segment their audiences and create personalised messaging that resonates with each guest. These bespoke communications result in increased loyalty, higher guest satisfaction, and ultimately, more revenue.
However, not all guests are the same and their needs change throughout the different phases of their travel journey.
Understanding your guest’s digital identity
Digital identities are made up of three primary elements: demographics (which are relatively static), past behaviours (which evolve over time) and unique preferences (which must be captured by a hotel’s tech stack).
Demographics are relatively static and predictable. Age evolves over time, and most people aren’t changing their hometowns often. These are also the easiest to capture, as demographic details are part of nearly every booking.
Guest behaviour is more dynamic and may change over time. These elements include preferred booking channels, frequently booked room types, typical booking patterns, average length of stay and on-property spending. This behaviour tends to depend on the type of trip, such as business or leisure, as well as the objective of the trip, such as with family or friends.
Guest preferences are less static than demographics but change less often than guest behaviour. These are the nuances that remain somewhat constant throughout different trip types — a person who enjoys golf or eats vegan, is most likely to still have that preference no matter what type of trip they are on. This information can then be used to craft relevant messaging that triggers a desired behaviour. Guest preferences also inform the functional and emotional benefits that a particular profile likes about your property, which shapes how best to engage a guest across touchpoints.
With these digital identities, hotel marketers can better understand their guests’ preferences, and then connect those to specific mindsets along the guest journey with communications tailored to each phase. This level of personalisation can improve guest satisfaction and drive revenue by encouraging repeat bookings and positive reviews that bring more guests to the property.
Targeting guests in the four phases of travel
Guests have different mindsets, needs, and expectations depending on their phase of travel. Each of these phases presents opportunities and challenges, and intuitively understanding the nuances of each is key to crafting marketing messaging and website content that resonates with guests, drives revenue, and increases satisfaction.
Phase 1: Dreaming
The dreaming phase is the most creative point in the guest journey. The guest is considering options, which can mean a variety of things. If it’s a business traveller who stays frequently at your property, they may be dreaming about finally making time for a spa visit. For a casual traveller into food, the focus could be on the property’s proximity to the best restaurants, or perhaps access to culinary experiences that only your property can provide.
At this phase, potential guests are scrolling social media, reading travel blogs, watching videos on YouTube, checking TripAdvisor, or asking ChatGPT for local recommendations. To target guests in this phase, hotel owners can use CRM data to identify guest demographics and behaviours, such as age, interests, and travel history.
Messaging during this phase should highlight the hotel’s loyalty program and VIP perks, as well as showcase the features and amenities of the property. Social media, display ads, and search engine optimisation (SEO) are effective channels for reaching guests during the dreaming phase.
Phase 2: Planning
During the planning phase, guests are narrowing down their options and deciding on a destination. They may be searching for specific amenities, researching recommendations on local activities, or looking into the weather before packing. They’ve narrowed down their options to a select few properties and are nearly ready to book.
With that in mind, messaging should adjust based on individual guest preferences, as well as typical guest behaviours, to capture the booking before it goes to a competitor. Messaging should focus on local events, activities, and property amenities that are likely to appeal to the guest, which are all primed for conversion.
Phase 3: Booking
When guests are ready to book, your messaging shouldn’t get in the way! It should adjust according to a guest’s booking trends, past behaviours and personal preferences. For instance, an abandoned cart re-engagement email would amplify the property’s benefits, focus on what matters most to that specific guest and incentivise the booking with a personalised rate – all based on the hotel’s CRM data.
In general, messaging during this phase should emphasise the benefits of booking directly, such as lower rates or special offers. It’s important to use CRM data to identify guest booking behaviours, such as preferred booking channels and room types, to personalise messaging and encourage direct bookings.
Phase 4: Experiencing
Once guests are on-site and enjoying their stay, the mission shifts from earning the booking to maximising revenue per booking. This is a critical phase for upselling premium experiences and amenities, such as spa treatments or room upgrades.
Yet, it takes nuance to effectively accomplish this without alienating guests with irrelevant messaging driven by profit. That’s where the guest’s CRM data can inform the best way to engage guests, as messaging can be adjusted based on conversion cookie tools to track guest behaviour and personalise messaging on the hotel’s website and within emails and texts.
Bringing it all together
Each phase presents different conversion opportunities and marketing challenges. By leveraging CRM data to align messaging with guest behaviour, preferences and expectations at each phase, communications are more likely to connect with guests at the ideal moment. Those small touches add up to big wins over the lifetime of a guest relationship.
When leveraging your CRM’s digital identities, keep these five best practices in mind:
- Personalise your messaging
- Use eye-catching Visuals
- Highlight your unique selling proposition.
- Create urgency
Test and refine your campaigns
Ultimately, targeted marketing communications that address the needs, preferences and expectations of each guest will foster satisfaction, drive revenue, and build loyalty for your hotel. And, as you further refine your guests’ digital identities within your CRM, the benefits will grow and compound over time!
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