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For-Sight’s Inbound Marketing Executive Maud Bruyere looks at why Guest Communication is more essential than ever before as the industry re-opens. 

As Hospitality businesses prepare to reopen, now more than ever, it is crucial to connect with your guests. New concerns have also emerged from the coronavirus crisis. To maximise your reopening communication efforts and determine the adequate response strategy, your property needs to understand and examine the crisis (Coombs, 2007). From our perspective, we believe that it is crucial to use guest communication to: 

  • reassure your customers,  
  • enhance the trust for your brand, and  
  • fulfil the promise: to delight throughout the entire guest journey. 

In this article, we focus on 3 messaging topics for guest communication aiming to support the reopening marketing efforts of your property.   

  • Communication that ensures safety in the property (Health and safety measures, touchless options, online check-in/out…),  
  • Information about booking flexibility, and  
  • Re-opening offers.   

We also provide tips to maximise and assess your marketing efforts. 

Guest communication, connect with your guests’ preferences 

Safety – be consistent 

The Hospitality sector has demonstrated an incredible capacity to adapt to coronavirus safety measures. Reopening is the time to tell your guest all about it.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the ways guest are assessing properties based on new concerns. Booking.com has seen an increase of 60 % for both words’ “hygiene” and “clean”. Safe interactions and hygiene measures are critically important to reassure guests.  Guest communication supports your efforts and makes your guests feel confident about their stay. Using direct email communication can help to: 

  • inform your guests about health and safety guidelines your property follows,  
  • ensure they are followed, 
  • as well as making your guest a promise: a clean and safe experience. 

Every hospitality business employs different measures, that is why your guest should know what you are doing at every step of your guest journey. For-Sight’s email solution allows you to deliver and fully automate communications with your own branded and personalised messages. 

Flexibility – be transparent 

Guest Communications about flexible booking policies can ease the guest decision process, as well as show great empathy and transparency from your brand. While there is a roadmap for re-opening of the industry, this period comes with real concerns for guests when booking a stay as there still remains a risk of cancellation/rescheduling. So today more than ever, hospitality businesses should consider flexibility as a way to attract new guests and drive loyalty. A recent study of GlobalWebIndex (January 2021) shows that 55% of U.S and 65% of U.K vacation planners desire to have the option to cancel and rearrange their trip easily.

Booking flexibility ensures a financially safe stay for your guests, but not only that! While flexibility benefits your potential guests, Booking.com data reveals a great result of 3% more conversions for Risk-Free Reservations and 92% of all of those being completed without any cancellation. Furthermore, flexibility is also designed to prevent cancellation by actively emphasising on re-arrangement.  

Offers – be attractive 

Re-opening is great news for your property and your guestsHave you have thought about a ‘Welcome back’ offer, to celebrate and attract new or existing customers? That will certainly delight the 51% of U.S and 40% of UK vacation planners surveyed by GlobalWebIndex who would prefer to use brands that offer discounts during 2021. Promoting offers via email, as well as your other digital channels, will drive traffic to your website and create opportunity to increase your direct revenue. 

Offers are also an effective re-opening marketing strategy, make sure you take the time to craft an offer personalised to your individual guest personas, to distinguish your brand in the competitive re-opening market. 

Maximise and assess your marketing efforts 

Understand and Segment your audience 

Technology gives you the key to reach the right audience at the right time. Your property holds an extremely large and rich set of data about your guest interactions and behaviour. By identifying patterns and trends within your business, you can create groups of customers, or “segments”. These can then be used to maximise your marketing efforts and to tailor content to be relevant to your guests. 

Let’s take an example that illustrates our 3 points above. Your hotel has an amazing golf course that will soon re-open. You have analysed your guest data and created a list of contacts who have all played golf at your property. You have developed a personalised “Welcome Back to the Green” email for your local audience, that: 

  • celebrates this news with a promotional discount code of 15%, 
  • informs and reassures guests on how your property provides a safe environment (sanitisation of amenities or self-distancing with other groups of players for example) 
  • and provides flexible booking policies that ensure golf lovers they will play at your property. 

When planning your strategy, keep in mind all the restrictions that may still be in place and the current market trends. 2021 trends show that the travel priorities being focused on are: short, outdoor and local (GlobalWebIndex). According to the same study, 38% of UK and U.S vacationers are planning a long domestic weekend this year. 

Assess your Guest communication 

Happy with your guest-communication? Drop the mic – in your guests’ hands. Remember that communication is a 2-way process. Encourage guests to let you know about what they like and what they think about their experience, give them a voice and offer you key insights to improve your offer. Without being intrusive, guest communication can be used to collect feedback. Communication is about dialogue. You can ask open questions, such as “Do you think our flexibility policies are flexible enough?” Rating questions like “Please feel free to rate the cleanness of our amenities?” Ask them about the best thing they have experienced during their stay.   

You want to individualise and humanise your brand to create a unique experience for your (new) guests and drive loyalty. Guest communication is the right tool to help build these relationships, and despite the coronavirus pandemic keeping us physically distant – personalised digital communication can bring you closer to your guests. 

Analyse your reports and adjust 

Making sure you analyse the performance of your reopening marketing campaigns and guest communication allows you to understand how you have achieved your objectives. You can also make use of analytics and testing to improve your marketing activities. Using A/B testing for your content and messaging can help you to determine what works best for your audience and can support your decision-making process. 

Alongside performance analysis and A/B testing, Google Analytics is a well-known marketing tool (for a very good reason) that provides your property with in-depth insights. Using Google Analytics, you can find ways to achieve better targeting, optimise your campaigns and develop new activities. Check out some more tips on Google Analytics here. 

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