As hotels get ready to reopen as restrictions start to be eased across the UK and Ireland in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, it is important to reflect on the importance of guest communication and engagement as part of industry recovery.

Share with your guests how you are adapting to re-open.

You will no doubt be working on how you will need to operationally adapt to ongoing measures, such as social distancing. Your guests are likely to want to know what you are doing for this as well, before they consider booking.

A recent analysis by GlobalWebIndex shows that 58% of people will resume travel when they feel safe to do so, and that a staggering 87% approve of brands providing practical information as part of their marketing and communication.

There is a great opportunity to reassure your guests, to help build the confidence in guests to travel and book, now. Consider deploying a communication, or series of communications, to your guests prior to re-opening and building this information into your ongoing marketing and pre-stay engagement as well.

Be clear and concise about the measures you’re taking on guest safety and hygiene, to reassure those who are looking for a post-lockdown break.

Every hotel will be employing slightly different measures, but measures you may want to announce directly to your guests via email and your other digital channels are;

  • Increased housekeeping and cleaning activities
  • Roll out of a hotel app for contactless guest engagement
  • Reduced restaurant capacity for social distancing
  • Any measures you are taking to protect the health and wellbeing of your staff as well as guests
  • Availability of hand sanitiser
  • How you are adhering to government guidelines
  • Contactless payments only

Take the time to understand and segment your audience

Your hotel holds so much data on your guests. Take the time and create a strategy to segment your database to get the right message to the right guest, at the right time. Some examples are;

  • Creating a local audience and message highlighting any food and beverage services you have operating, take-away or deliveries, and community messages of support
  • Create audience segments to promote later in the year holiday breaks, such as Christmas or a winter break

The belief across the industry is that the various hospitality market sectors will recover at different rates. Local business is likely to return before international, with a good chance that corporate travel and MICE will pick up later as well, as measures are lifted, and businesses move out of this period of uncertainty.

In the same GlobalWebIndex analysis, 31% of respondents indicated that they will have more staycations with 29% also responding that they will take more vacations within their own country, rather than travelling internationally.

Keep this in mind when planning your strategy and your target segments. Local business will represent a much more immediate opportunity, while keeping in touch with your corporate and MICE guests will put your brand in a much stronger position when the market recovers.

Analyse and adjust

As with all communications and marketing campaigns, you should analyse the performance over time and adjust based on the results. For your email marketing, pre-stay and post stay communications you should make sure you are continuing to A/B test your content and messaging.

Google Analytics is also a powerful tool that can help you ensure your Hotel marketing is working for you. Google Analytics also provides in-depth insight for improving and enhancing your marketing activities through optimising your campaigns, better targeting and perhaps even activities you hadn’t thought of before. Check out some more tips on Google Analytics here.

Industry Support

Many hospitality vendors are offering support to hotels as they start to re-open, to help with recovery as hospitality and tourism restarts. We’ve pulled together some offers of support from our friends and partners in our coronavirus hub.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can help you ensure your Hotel marketing is working for you. Not only does it provide invaluable information about how your website is performing, but Google Analytics also provides in-depth insight for improving and enhancing your marketing activities through optimising your campaigns, better targeting and perhaps even activities you hadn’t thought of before.

Discover what your marketing channels are doing for your hotel

Google Analytics allows you to identify which of your digital marketing activities are working, and which perhaps need your attention.

Google Analytics offers a comprehensive suite of acquisition reports, which allow you to view the performance of various sources of traffic to your website. 

For example, if your Google Analytics acquisition report is showing that your organic traffic is low compared to other sources, you should consider looking at your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy.

Your Google Analytics acquisition report can also show the performance of your email marketing activities as well and (with the appropriate setup) allow you to associate revenue generated by your campaigns.

If your property is active on social media then you can also report on associated revenue generated from website visitors who originated on your social media pages. 

Key reports you should be monitoring through Google Analytics 

Acquisition reports in Google Analytics can not only help you identify your best, and least, performing marketing channels – it can give you insight into your website performance. Google Analytics acquisition reports can provide you with key performance indicators such as how many people are arriving on your website, or sessions.

Behaviour reports in Google Analytics give great insight into what your website visitors are doing when they are on your website. They allow you to report on various metrics, such as the content that is getting the most engagement, allowing you to identify what is of interest to your audience, as well as time spent on various pages.

Audience reports give you detailed information about the visitors to your website, allowing you to view information such as location as well as demographic breakdowns.

You are also able to view how many of your site visitors are new visitors to your website, and how many are returning.

Conversion reports in Google Analytics allows you to produce reports and monitor goals that you have set, which are actions you have identified that you want your audience to take. 

You will also be able to attribute a conversion back to the marketing channel that drove the visitor to your website.

This is only a snapshot of the data analysis that is available to you as a hotelier. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about what good data analysis can do for your hotel, get in touch with our analytics experts to learn how we can help.

 

Search Engines account for a significant amount of web traffic for any business and as part of the booking process a large percentage of your potential guests are going to start their journey on sites like Google.

With more than 90% of all traffic going to the websites in the first page of search results, appearing as high as possible in search results should be a goal of every hotelier.

What’s the best way to ensure you appear as high as possible? By implementing some SEO practices as part of your ongoing activity.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO as acronym loving Marketers have shortened it to, is simply applying certain practices to your website to help make sure you appear as high as possible on the competitive first page of Google search results.

Even though we love an acronym as much as the next person, it would probably be more accurate to refer to SEO as ‘Making Google Happy’.

With all search engines, including Google, constantly updating their algorithms, commonplace inconsistent practices and guests using a variety of different devices to search it is difficult for hoteliers to easily understand what is working and what is not.

To try and help, we’ve put together a few simple practices that will help you to start ‘Making Google Happy’.

Set up a Google My Business account for your Hotel

Google My Business is a free service from Google that can immediately make your hotel more accessible to guests searching for accommodation on Google. Not only does it include basic essential information like your property address, phone number and website you can also make sure your Google Map information and geo-tagging are correct, as well as include information about your amenities, pictures of your hotel and show reviews.

It doesn’t take long to set up but can pay dividends in increasing your presence within search results.

Google listings also offer the ability for guests to ‘see inside’ from the Google listing. You can upload a 360 degree image of the interior of your property. A professional photographer will be able to help with providing high quality imagery.

Monitor search volumes

When working on and planning your SEO approach it is important to keep in mind that it is an ongoing process.

As a hotelier you will need to keep on top of changes in trends that could affect your ranking in the search results. Google, and many third-party Search Engine Marketing (SEM) solution providers, offer tools that allow you to monitor search volumes for particular keywords. This can help you gauge demand based on changes in search intent.

If you run offers, or vary packages that are offered to the market throughout the year it is important to remember to update your monitored keywords.

Keeping one eye on the search trends of travellers will mean you can effectively plan and make informed decisions on the content of your website.

Content is King

Googlebot and the spiders (which despite how it sounds is not a glam rock band) are constantly crawling over your website, indexing as they go, and they absolutely love content. Not only are Google’s algorithms pleased by high quality content, it will also help you to increase chances of converting site visitors when they are on your website.

Running a blog is an easy way to make sure you are regularly putting out fresh content, with a post a week being manageable for most businesses. Content like this has application outside of simply keeping Google happy – you can also share it on your social media pages, as well as use it in email campaigns to your marketing database.

Content doesn’t mean you are confined to just writing paragraph after paragraph of text, you can be creative and include visual content as well.

Imagery on your website draws the attention of the visitor and can increase engagement and dwell time on pages. You can also assign keywords to your imagery which can help with your ranking.

Make reviews a priority

Guests, more so first-time guests, will always trust the opinions and experiences of other guests over and above what you tell them about your hotel.

Verified reviews, visible on search engines on sites such as TripAdvisor, are essential. You should consider responding to all reviews that come in for your hotel, this will help with your brand credibility as well as showing that you value the experience of your guest and their feedback.

There are many tools available as part of an integrated tech stack to help you manage your feedback, such as GuestRevu.

Map out your Keywords

When looking at the keywords you want to make sure appear throughout your website to help with your search engine ranking, put yourself in the shoes of your guest.

You need to think about what a guest will be searching for as you develop your keyword list. Once you have a list of initial keywords that you think could help drive traffic and increase your ranking, make sure you use Google’s tools to check the search volumes for each.

Google Analytics is your friend

Google Analytics is an essential, free, tool for hoteliers.

Analysis is essential for any activity you implement in your business and with Google Analytics you can assess the volume of traffic from the keywords you have been using in your content, as well as track page views, where the traffic is coming from and even the devices visitors are using to access your website.

Google Analytics can also allow you to track revenue collected via your website, or booking engine, back to its source, whether that is your email marketing activities or Google Ads.

By understanding what traffic sources and activities are giving you the best return, you can make informed decisions on what is working and what is not.

No instant fix

There is no instant fix for SEO and your Google rankings, and neither is this an exhaustive list. To maintain your SEO and ranking in Google, or to improve it, will require regular and consistent effort.

By analysing your efforts as you go however, you can be assured that your time is well spent, and you are focusing on the activities that deliver traffic and conversions to your website.

 

 

Chances are that you’ve always got a couple of ideas about how to approach a specific email campaign, and there is also a distinct possibility that on certain occasions you’ve decided to play it safe and stick to what you know has worked in the past. This is, obviously, a very sensible approach but it does lead to hesitation in trying something new.

What is A/B testing?

You’ve probably heard of A/B testing for your email marketing, you may have also heard it called ‘split testing’. If you haven’t put simply A/B testing is a way of working out which out of two versions of a campaign will be most effective for engagement – whether that is how many people open the email, or click on a call to action. A/B testing can allow you to both try new things while mitigating the risk and verify if what you think has been working effectively is actually working effectively.

How does A/B testing work?

When you A/B test an email campaign you send two variations of an email to a small percentage of your proposed campaign recipients. Half of this test group will get version A, the other half will receive version B – hence the rather on the nose name, A/B testing! Whichever variation performs the best with your test group is the version that the rest of your campaign list will receive, which should result in better performance while also giving you valuable insight to inform future campaigns.

Simples!

What should you test?

The truth is you can test anything you want! Some of the most common variables tested using email campaign A/B testing are;

  • Subject lines
  • Call to action wording or positioning
  • The layout of your email (placing different elements in different positions)
  • Personalisation (using title and surname vs just forename, for example)
  • Testing one offer against another

At this point your mind is probably going into overdrive with the possibilities – and they are only limited by your creativity BUT, you should only pick one thing to test for each campaign.

Why only test one variable at a time? If you test multiple variables at one time, for example subject line and an offer in the same email, you won’t be able to say with any certainty which it was that was responsible for the change in performance.

How do you know which has performed better?

When you’re deciding which variable you want to test you should decide what success looks like, or what you’re trying to improve on. For example, if you’re wanting more guests to open your emails, you might decide to test subject lines on your next campaign. In this case whichever variation got a higher open rate would be the ‘winner’ and would be sent to the rest of your send list.

The same applies if you are testing variations in the wording of your call to action, perhaps in a pre-stay email encouraging guests to book dinner, whichever version resulted in the higher click through rate, or bookings, would be the winner.

It is important to make sure that you are clear in what metric you are measuring with your test before you send it. Measuring the success of variations in elements such as subject line, friendly from or preview text can be much easier to interpret as success will be an increase in the open rate, however, it can become much more difficult to interpret when testing different creative elements where clicks will be your metric of success.

Have a clear vision of what creative component you are going to test, whether it is the wording of a call to action, placement of your call to action or image placement.

When and how long should I let my test run?

When working with our hotel partners on AB testing of their campaigns, we would recommend that 20% of the available contact data is used as a starting point for your test, with a run time of 2 hours.

This means that 10% will get Version A, 10% will get version B and the remaining 80% will get the version of the campaign that ‘wins’ the test.

For email campaigns, the time of sending also needs to be taken into consideration. For example, if you regularly send email campaigns at 8am, because you obtain a good open rate in return, it wouldn’t be advisable to split test from 6am for 2 hours because although we know 80% have a high chance of opening at 8am, testing from 6am could be too early for worthwhile results.

Trial and error

No two campaigns or database are the same. For example, while a 20% test sample is a good rule of thumb, you may want to adjust this up or down depending on the size of your database.

The key to making the most of your AB tests is to just start testing, evaluate the results and adjust as you go.

Why not get in touch with us to see how we could help you take your email marketing campaigns to the next level.

It may seem like an obvious thing to say, that as a hotel, and business, you need to understand who your guests are.

When we say ‘understand’ who your guests are, we’re not talking about knowing that Mrs Smith from High Wycombe is coming to stay for a weekend in July – we’re talking about understanding what drives them. Once you understand this you can begin to relate to them as human beings, delivering a much more personalised marketing strategy.

Why do you need to understand who your guests are and relate to them? Well, people are more likely to buy something when they feel a brand ‘gets them’. In a study by Wunderman, a whopping 79% of consumers said that brands have to demonstrate that they ‘understand and care about me’ before they consider making a purchase.

With your guests making the purchase decision inundated with choice, it is important to make sure you stand out by showing that, as a brand, you understand their individual needs.

If you can master this, then those guests are more likely to come to you directly, rather than stumble across you on a price comparison site.

How do you speak to your individual guests?

To make sure you’re delivering the right message to your guests, both returning and potential new guests, it is worth spending the time to create a picture, or persona, of what your ideal guests look like.

As part of your marketing or business strategy you likely have types of guests you are looking to increase bookings from, for example business travellers, or you may want to just increase direct bookings from all types of guests to reduce your reliance on Online Travel Agents (OTAs).

Buyer personas, or marketing personas as you may have heard them referred to, are generalised and fictional representations of your ideal guests. They aren’t however purely of use to your marketing department, they are an invaluable exercise that helps all aspects of your business internalise what the ideal customer looks like and allows you to relate to your customers as real human beings.

You may only have one or two ideal guest personas, you may have one hundred – it all depends on you as a business and the audience you’re looking to attract.

At the most basic level, creating personas will allow you to tailor your messaging to your target audience and help with creating segments for your campaign.

So what should you be looking at when working out what your ideal guest looks like?

You may be wanting to attract more corporate bookings, you may be wanting to increase bookings for a spa weekend break. Whatever your reason for looking to target a specific type of guest, there are a couple of questions you should be able to answer to build your personas.

  • What value do your ideal guests see in booking your hotel?
  • What is it that attracts them to you?
  • How much are they willing to pay?
  • Where do you find these guests online?
  • What kind of content pulls them in?
  • What features are most important to them?

Not as easy as it seems when you start thinking about it, is it?

The truth is that you can answer these questions, and more.

Use your knowledge. Tap into your own knowledge, and that of your staff. Speak to people from your front of house team, your restaurant team, spa team… anyone who interacts with your guests. They could very well have valuable insight which will help you build your guest profiles.

The power of data. Your hotel is brimming with data about your guests. From your Hotel PMS, your online booking platform, your website, your email sending platform, your social media and even your spa software, you have an abundance of data on your guest’s behaviour available. The only problem can be that it is all in individual silos across your hotel – but it is there. Bringing together the data segmented across your hotel, through use of an integrated CRM, can allow you to build a single view of your guests. This means you can see where guests with certain demographic traits found you online or what content they engaged with, for example. The insight you can find will only be limited by the data you have and how you analyse it.

Email marketing or CRM platforms will also usually include the functionality to segment your contact data so your recipients only receive content from you that they are interested in. You can apply this in many ways, from giving the option within your emails for the recipient to adjust their preferences, or by giving them the option of selecting the type of content they want when signing up online. By looking at these preferences alongside engagement results from your email marketing, as part of your single view of your guest’s data, you can start to understand what kind of content resonates with your different guests as part of creating your personas.

Ask your guests. This may seem like an obvious one, but speak to your guests. Following a stay, you can survey your guests to ask them what features are important to them, what attracted them to your hotel, what they enjoyed, what they didn’t and so on. You can even use specialised reputation management platforms to manage this with many, such as GuestRevu, allowing you to integrate this data into your guest profiles by using a CRM to bring all of this insight into one place.

By taking the time to build a profile of your ideal guests you can make sure what you’re offering really stands out in a crowded marketplace and that both potential and returning guests come to you direct.

Whether you’re a hopeless romantic, or a tad more cynical, we’re giving you a little gift this February 14th.  Feast your googly, heart-shaped eyes on our 5 great email marketing tips!! 😍

Make your first move irresistible with a strong subject line.

Be personal! Personalised subject lines have 22% more chance of being opened. Stand out from the crowd while being creative with emojis.

No, really, emojis!

Emojis can increase open rates by 56% when compared to plain subject lines. Ensure your subject line marries well with the pre-header text, use this as your chance to add more clarity to the email content while increasing your opens by 7.96%.

Show that special someone what they’re missing out on

Be tempting with your offer while ensuring you’re getting the relevant message to the relevant audience.

Whether its dynamic content within the email body or segmenting your data, be direct! To the point that it seems like you’re only speaking to one person.

Keep the email copy short, sweet and with a sense of urgency to encourage the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)!

Get those clicks

Entice and appeal to ensure that they click through to your website or landing page! Including a CTA button can achieve 28% higher CTR compared to plain underlined text.

Is it bold enough? Is your eye directed straight to it? Experiment, make it more exciting than ‘FIND OUT MORE >’

A mobile love story

66% of emails are opened on a smartphone or tablet – there is no excuse, your design must be mobile-friendly. Take the extra time to test send your email to your desktop and mobile. Check both previews and play about with the display options. The email experience should be seamless regardless of the device!

Nobody enjoys awkward first date chat

Last but by no means least, write like a human! Expressing your brand personality while being direct and friendly will make you appear more trustworthy while making recipients more likely to engage in your content.

**TOP TIP**

We know we said five tips, but we’re feeling the love so much at For-Sight Towers, here’s an extra tip for you!

Make sure their heart skips a beat when they see you

Your featured image is key in highlighting your offer so this image must be of high quality. GIFs are a great replacement of a main image but please remember that not all email clients support GIFs. To ensure that you get your offer across seamlessly, it is crucial that your main message displays on the first frame of a GIF!

If you’d like to talk to the For-Sight team about how we can work with you to give your marketing some TLC, click here.

 

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Text Version:

SEGMENTATION: WHO YOU GONNA EMAIL?

Segmentation of your audience can be a spooky prospect. Though, you should imagine segmentation as scary a prospect as Slimer, while the real Gozer in your email marketing strategy is the potential saturation of your audience.

But how do you catch Slimer? How do you successfully segment your audience for the needs of your campaign? Well, where better to start than with the five little W’s? If they’re good enough for the rhetoricians of Ancient Greece, it’s good enough for your campaign.

 

WHAT

What is the purpose of your email campaign? What are you promoting? One of the most pertinent reasons for large unsubscribe rates is that the content is of no interest to the recipient. Make sure you have worked out exactly what you are saying and what your success of the campaign rides on. A spooky, roller coaster ride.

 

WHO

Who is this campaign going to? What are the prerequisites for receiving this campaign? Picking your target audience is not just guessing work, it’s half of the battle in a successful campaign. Work out your demographic, ensure you can justify each and every recipient being sent this particular email.

 

WHERE

Where is the hotel in question-based? And where is the campaign recipient based? Imagine living in Shetland, and receiving a half price code for a lovely boutique independent in central London for tomorrow night. Receiving that email serves absolutely no purpose for anyone and will inevitably lead to your recipient seeing your brand as a nuisance or cutting the marketing tie altogether. Now THAT’S scary.

 

WHEN

When was the last time you heard from your recipient? And what was the nature of the exchange? Similarly to the location of a guest, when a guest last transacted with you is just as important as how far away they are. With GDPR being chucked into the cauldron of guest data regulations, it’s important to have engagement tiers and a clear point of exit for your (ex)guest from your databases.

 

WHY

Why should any person, in particular, be avoided? And why does this campaign not apply to them? This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself when deciding who receives a campaign. And it encapsulates the above 4 W’s. What in the message really applies to the person it’s going to? Are they the actually the correct person to receive this campaign? Are they even in the correct location to be enticed by your campaign? Have they shown any recent engagement or interest in your brand’s services? If you don’t have substantial evidence to lay to rest the above questions, then you have the answer to whether you should avoid this recipient.

 

And that’s it. Whoever you have left is, therefore, a fangtastic recipient for your campaign.

Oh, and Happy Halloween. Oooooooooh.

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