Capturing hotel guests data and email addresses has become a fundamental part of a successful hotel sales, marketing and management strategy in today’s hospitality landscape. At the center of a successful strategy is a modern email marketing approach. With communication becoming almost completely digital, through the many different channels of social media, forum email is still the number one way to engage guests as email users are still steadily increasing year over year. As millennials and gen Z become the largest grouping of consumers, hotels are changing the way they communicate to compete. Capturing accurate guest data and email addresses will become even more important as we navigate through the global pandemic crisis and businesses explore new ways to attract guests and drive revenue.
Why is it important to capture hotel guest data and email addresses?
Effectively capturing hotel guest data will provide important insights on your guest’s demographics, purchasing behaviour and preferences. But not all data is good data. Relevancy is key. This enables your hotel to offer a superior personalized experience to your guests. Knowing what type of guests specifically like about your hotel will give you a leg up on being able to market specific things to those segments, and drive repeat sales.
How can this affect revenue?
There is an opportunity cost with capturing irrelevant information or not capturing any hotel guest data at all. Not capturing accurate information or any information at all will make your job a disingenuous guessing game. You risk losing out on the possibility of attracting future guests and increasing your online brand and presence with online feedback in the form of social media, forums, OTAs, search engines, and blogs. The right approach will help you to cross-sell and upsell to drive revenues beyond just the basic room.
Capturing hotel guest data will enable you to drive your direct sales strategy. As we all are aware, direct sales gives you an unencumbered line to guests, without any middle-men or third party getting in the way. Not only will you be able to save an arm and a leg in third party fees, you’ll also be able to own the guest journey from the get-go. You will be able to collect the precise information you want which will help you better tailor your offers and services going forward.
Make sure your email capture screens are mobile and desktop friendly to maximize success. If your direct bookings have advantages over third party bookings, like a discount, make sure they’re known! Ensure there is value to the website and call-to-actions that will encourage a guest to submit their email. Perhaps a free drink voucher CTA if they submit their name and email. CTAs are a great way to promote your hotel in different ways in exchange for guest information that will ultimately benefit your guest.
Email approaches to the different stages of the guest journey
Capturing a hotel guest’s email will be effective in each point of the guest journey, so long as it is implemented appropriately. See how you can use this method of communication has a specific approach throughout their journey:
Once a guest has booked, they most likely won’t want to be bombarded with requests for their personal information. You only have one chance to make a good first impression after all. At this stage, it’s good to stick to only asking what is required to complete their reservation. There are many other touchpoints where you can collect more hotel guest data in the future. Follow up their confirmation with a pleasant and brief welcome email with helpful information to prepare for their stay.
During check-in, whether it be at front desk, mobile check-in or at an automated kiosk, emails should be mandatory at this stage. Most guests do expect to fill in their email when using self-check in methods so this shouldn’t be a surprise. Ensure to highlight the benefits or incentives as to why they will need to enter their email address, such as:
-This is the key to free wifi
-They will receive their receipt via email
-This is how the hotel will communicate with them during their stay should anything arise
-Any promotions or offers like a free drink or breakfast
Ensure that all hotel guest data is logged into the PMS to maximize efforts.
During the stay
There are many opportunities during the stay where you can effectively capture your guests’ email. For instance, it may be required for many of the amenities or facilities like the gym, spa, or pool. It can also be made mandatory to be eligible for rewards or discounts. Ensure to tie this into your PMS for easy management.
The check-out process is usually a process that hotels place little importance on. Appropriately so – the guest simply would like to return their key and leave to their flight home/next destination on time. A way to capture their email at this final stage is as a way to receive feedback on their stay. Things like a contest that offers a random guest a prize for those who participate. Another way to capture it is to let them know that if they find anything left behind in their hotel room, this will be their way of notifying the guest right away.
Now we emphasize: the key is to ensure all hotel guest data is accurately logged into the PMS.
It starts with your staff
You can only forecast and sell as well as the quality of hotel guest data that you are receiving. And that, lies in the hands of your staff. Setting KPIs like at least a 90% email capture rate for example, will hold your team accountable and provide a measurable goal to work towards.
Along with setting out goals, provide the “why” behind your hotel email marketing strategy. For any hotel client-facing staff, they should be fully briefed in the strategy, otherwise there can be discrepancies in trying to achieve the guest experience that your email strategy is trying to portray.
Your team, better than anyone, will understand your guests best because they interact with them every single day. They are your asset when it comes to enacting an effective strategy. Involving your team in departmental goals is also another way to empower and improve team morale. For example, if the team reaches the 5% increase in email capture rate at the end of the month then they win a pizza party.
Along with the quantity of email captures, is the quality component. Clear goals in accuracy of hotel guest data should be set. Misses in spelling, format and punctuation are common and should be consistently coached with your team. Systems can generate a weekly accuracy report that measures email captures against their accuracy so teams can pinpoint where they are struggling and set goals to improve.
These KPIs and measures can all be set out in a SOP and in training to ensure communication and comprehension is streamlined.
While capturing hotel guest data and emails have benefits to both you, the hotel, and to the guest, guests may not see it that way. In this day and age, it’s clear when you’re being sold to or why businesses want your email as a way to sell to you some more. Being transparent with your guests as to why you want their information is good business practice. Emails are general currency nowadays but if there is specific data you want, it’s best to let them know exactly why and to give them a choice, instead of coercing them. Using their information in a way they don’t expect is a one way ticket to a negative experience and you risk losing their business in the future. By being transparent, you build your reputation and credibility among guests and a sense of trust that they will value.