The top concern for most hotel marketers is how to attract guests to their property. To entice new clients, marketers look for creative ways to showcase the things that distinguish their hotel. Part of that is making the case why the hotel is the right fit for vacations, business trips, weddings, or events. But while drawing in first-time guests to a property has obvious short-term value, a greater return on marketing dollars can be gained by shifting some of that focus to the people who have already visited your hotel.
Website software provider Invesp found that it costs as much as seven times more to obtain a new customer than to keep existing ones. But consistently retaining current customers requires following a few general principles. I’ll cover a few of my top recommendations next.
Focus on Customer Care
Getting customers to return to your hotel begins with leaving them with a positive impression on their first stay. According to Gallup’s 2014 Hospitality Industry Study, hotels that appeal to guests’ sense of well-being enjoy a far higher level of engaged customers over the long run. While Gallup defines this broadly–incorporating everything from comfortable beds and fitness centers to alleviating guest worries–the bottom line is this: a customer who enjoys a special connection with the hotel is more likely to return.
As Gallup puts it, a hotel company that thoroughly prepares employees for one-on-one interactions with customers gains a clear advantage in ensuring that all guests feel the hotel truly cares about their well-being.
Photos and videos that remind them of their trip and your property’s offerings can be valuable. Even better: a 360-degree video or virtual reality experience that can be shared on social media or via email.
Get Smart About Data
One of the huge advantages that existing customers offer over new customers: hoteliers already know a lot about them. Marketers should leverage this CRM data, website analytics, and other data gathered throughout the customer journey in order to retarget them.
Dig into your CRM data to build customer personas and understand the range of priorities and motivations of different types of travelers. Segment your customers to ensure your marketing messages speak to the differing concerns and interests in your property. Determine what experiences different travelers utilized during their stay. Did they get a spa treatment? Did they book an outing through the concierge? Did they stay in a VIP suite? Use this information to shape your messaging around.
Bring Them Back to the Property, Virtually
Since they’ve already been to the hotel, find ways to use your marketing messaging to bring them back to their stay and relive the magic of their trip. Photos and videos that remind them of their trip and your property’s offerings can be valuable. Even better: a 360-degree video or virtual reality experience that can be shared on social media or via email. You could even embed it on your website.
Don’t Forget about Email
While social media gets much of the attention, email remains a highly effective tool for customer retention and reengagement for hotel marketers. Gigaom Research found that a majority of marketers (56 percent) view email as the most effective tool for customer retention. Among the keys to making email re-engagement campaigns work well are message targeting, engaging subject lines, and smart use of data, to remind existing customers why they fell in love with your hotel in the first place.
Alex Daniel is a travel writer and content strategist based in Brooklyn.