Speaking during the 2019 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference, hoteliers shared insights about how they get more specific and tailored marketing messages in front of potential guests.
NEW YORK—Messaging and online interactions specifically tailored to individuals are more likely to convert to bookings and increase important metrics like time on site, according to experts speaking at the 2019 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference.
Robert Patterson, VP of marketing technology for MMGY Global who moderated the “Progression of personalization” panel, said delivering that more personalized experience early on in the booking journey clearly pays dividends.
“The reason you should be personalizing is customers are going to be demanding it,” he said. “Forty-one percent of consumers switched companies because of a lack of trust or personalization. So it’s going to cost your company if you’re not providing that layer.”
So here are some suggestions, culled from that panel, based on how some hoteliers have had success in driving more personalized messaging.
Put the experience in the guests’ hands
Adele Gutman, VP of sales, marketing and revenue for the Library Hotel Collection, noted her company doesn’t “have the big budgets of major chains to apply very expensive customized technology to our platforms.” So instead her company strives to reach a level of personalization by focusing in on the guest experience and making sure “every guest feels like what we’re offering them is designed personally for them.”
This is built into the company’s booking process, and each of the collection’s seven hotels has a unique identify and feel. Guests are given the options to pick specific rooms tailored to different interests—including preferences in literature or music—and to provide specific details on what they’re looking for so their stay doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter experience.
“We invite all of our guests to tell us who they are and whether they’re coming out for business or a romantic getaway,” she said.
Then all of that work is communicated to the front desk and on-property staff to deliver on that promise.
“It’s all meaningless if the front desk doesn’t do anything (with that information),” she said.
Enabling social media moments
Creating moments of surprise and delight can showcase a hotel’s personal connection with guests if they choose to share it on social media, which they often do. Whitney Reynolds, director of social media at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, said her company has created processes and infrastructure to enable those moments to happen.
Reynolds laid out an example of a child who loses a beloved stuffed animal; a hotel employee could have the good idea to surprise that parent with a replacement during their next stay but might ultimately opt not to bother if weighed down by logistics and budgetary challenges that come from dealing with something outside the scope of their normal work.
“The most important part of implementing a strategy is to have a mechanism so someone on the front desk is empowered to do the right thing when it feels right,” she said, noting that mechanism has to be scalable to work across a property or brand.
Keying in on location
Patterson said one of the simplest and most straightforward ways hoteliers can add an element of personalization to their website experience is to incorporate geolocation.
“There’s a lot you can learn and do with (a consumer’s) location that can inform what to do on websites,” he said. “We were able to determine locations of users, and depending on where they’re coming from, form tailored itineraries. And there are a lot of opportunities to do simple things like changing out headlines to include where they’re from. Those nuanced changes make significant impacts when you look at the metrics.”
Content can reach guests
Obviously different facets of a property will reach different guests—or potential guests—so large resort properties have a lot to share with possible customers. Agnelo Fernandes, EVP and chief strategy officer for Terranea Resort, said one way the property broadcasts these various messages is through an online magazine called “TerraneaLife.”
That publication is not just centered on the property either, but things going on around Southern California that guests can enjoy.
“We tell our stories through different platforms,” he said. “We all have websites and brand.com, but we created the online magazine platform to tell stories about California, and we approach it as pure storytelling.”