Step-by-Step action plan to engage with your Staycationers 

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Additional insights: watch our ‘Email Marketing to Capture ​​​​​​​and Retain the Staycation Market’ Webinar.

Staycations are trending! There is no doubt that the COVID– 19 pandemic has influenced consumers’ behaviour. 2021 guest decisions on travel destinations are no exception. Today, the UK holiday market benefits from cautious and price-sensitive consumers planning to stay closer to home. This staycation market represents both, a short and long-term opportunity to generate revenue and drive loyalty with those guests. Focusing on this opportunity, how can email marketing, help you engage with your staycationers, today and into the future? 

Staycation market – an optimistic overview 

While the ‘travel abroad’ search term dropped down by more than half, the searches for UK travel have increased by 103%. Staycations represent an opportunity of 13.68 million trips within the UK for hospitality businesses (Parkdean Resorts, 2020). This summer, holidaymakers are set to spend approximately £7.1 billion in staycationing, which represents an exceptional 22% increase from 2019’s £5.8 billion (Mintel, 2021). In fact, when we step back and compare the forecast for the total value of the 2021 domestic holidays in the UK (£12.9 billion) to the pre-coronavirus 2019 period (£14.5 billion), there is an 11% drop – but keep in mind that the domestic tourism industry in the UK has been restricted since the start of the yearBy 2022, the domestic market is expected to fully recover with an estimated £15 billion. 

 

Why email marketing? 

Email marketing can help you communicate with your guest, but that’s not all. Here are some reasons on why we recommend email marketing for hospitality businesses: 

  • Engage. Build an authentic and human connection with your guest. 
  • Generate revenue. Use a recognised and successful tactic to increase your revenue – email marketing has an excellent ROI, research by HubSpot reported that for every $1 spent on email marketing, you could expect to generate $38 of revenue on average 
  • Enhance direct booking. Driving traffic on your website to reduce reliance on OTAs. 
  • Upsell. Help the decision making and promote your activities, amenities, events etc. 
  • Collect feedback and stats. Keeping track of your guest experience to help you continue to engage, improve your offering and increase your revenue. 

 

The 6-step action plan 

The following 6 steps will help you to maximise your email marketing efforts and build relationships with your staycation guests. Throughout this process leveraging technology will influence your effectiveness and your chances of getting better results. The State of Email Marketing Benchmark Report (Validity, 2021) highlights that to get better results with emails you “must continue to invest in best-of-breed technology.” 

 

 1. Get the basics right 

Set SMART Objectives for your emails 

Key indicator performance can help you set the right direction and stay on track. When you look at Analytics, you can assess the performance of your emails. 

Guest details – recipients 

The first step for a successful email marketing strategy is to make sure that you speak to the right audience. Collect quality email addresses to build your lists, including demographic information (name, age, nationality etc.) and keep updating it throughout to learn more about your guest profiles. 

Capturing data will help you understand your guest habits and preferences. Making sure to convert masked OTA email addresses will also allow you to engage directly with guests and increase the chances of them booking direct rather than returning to an OTA. 

Stand-out – subject  

One of the top challenges to increase open rates is to stand out from the competition in your guests’ inbox. The subject line of your email is your first contact with your guest. Make sure that the first impression you make is ‘WOW’. 

Conversion – Call to action 

While open rates are a crucial metric, it isn’t the end of the game, click rate is. It usually is a clickable button or a text hyperlink, “Book, check, subscribe, find out, learn more” … There are numerous call-to-action phrases that you can use to lead your guests to the next step of the journey. To give you an idea, the travel industry averages open rate is 17.7%, and click-through rate 2% (Campaign Monitor, 2021). 

Email deliverability 

This is crucial that your emails reach their destinations. Your reports offer important insights on how well you are performing. For deliverability you should monitor: 

  • Your spam reports – The percentage of your emails that has been labelled as spam 
  • Your bounces – The percentage of emails that have never reached the inbox (non-existent/incorrect email address or recipient’s full inbox) 

 

2. Understand your guest 

What is the purpose of their stay?  

To connect with your guest, you need to understand their intent and decision-making.  The more you know, the more effective your message will be. 

Pandemic fatigue has resulted in people seeking rejuvenating travel, where they can enjoy new scenery, see family or friends and participate in events. Rejuvenation is the reason for more than 75% of leisure trips for UK and U.S travellers (Expedia, 2021). 

What are the motivations and frustrations?  

When thinking about travelling in the next 12 months, 50% of travellers feel optimistic but the other half still need reassurance. Understanding your guest frustrations can help you craft the right message that answers your guest concerns. While uncertainty persists for international travel, staycations encompass many advantages that can ease the mind of your guests. 

 

3. Personalisation – the ultimate guest-centric approach 

Now that you know your guests, the next step is to use this data to create relevant communications, to tell a unique story that will help you increase guests’ engagement. Creating authentic and personalised content is one of the top benefits of Email Marketing (HubSpot).  

Your staycation market segment is an opportunity for you to promote your destination, advise them to make their stay an amazing experience. Create content that helps your guests visualise their stay. Your email could link to your newest blog article about the best walks at your destination area, the local activities or food business partners, for example. 

 

4. Map your guest journey  

Mapping your guest journey isn’t a one size fits all. Every single guest engages differently to the emails you send. That is why defining the various touch points at each stage of your guest journey is important to help you identify when email marketing can help to enhance the guest experience with your brand. 

Right timing – when is the best time? 

Keep it conversational. There is no perfect answer on the frequency of your email marketing. You want to keep it human and not be intrusive. The number of emails depends on your guest and hospitality brand. 

Regarding the pre-stay emails of your staycationers, a report from Expedia (2021) shows that since May 2020, travellers are mostly searching in a 0 to 21 day window prior to arrival. This relatively short time window can be explained as a guests’ response to overcome the travel barriers set by the coronavirus pandemic (STR, 2021):  

  • Barrier 1. Government legislation and restrictions, that the hospitality industry has little control over, 
  • Barrier 2. Personal health concerns 
  • Barrier 3. Financial barriers. 

Being aware of what barriers your guests are facing, you can answer their concerns and develop “barrier-free” messages for your guests. 

Right message – Don’t just say it, prove it. 

You care for your guests and there are numerous ways to prove it. Flexibility policies, re-opening offers, advice to enhance the stay… There is a variety of topics you can communicate to your guest. The message you deliver should always be consistent. You care about your guest safety and have social distancing policies in place, let them know about it.  

Our tip? Step into your guests’ shoes. 

Your email channel can ease the mind of your guest and can reassure them throughout the guest journeyLet’s take the mode of transportation. To limit close contact with others, using cars to travel appears to be a safer option. Furthermore, staycationers will more likely use their personal vehicle or rent a car. Advice about car rental company, free parking, access roadmap… are examples of topics you could include in your pre-stay emails. 

 

5. Technology 

Data-driven strategy 

Hospitality businesses that are not currently leveraging technology could risk getting left behind. CRM technology helps you leverage data sets that are available from an increasing number of other core-transactional systems. For-Sight email functionality is built to help you deliver a fully automated, mobile-optimised email marketing solution to develop a unique guest journey with your brand. 

Marketing automation 

If you don’t already, consider using marketing automation. The benefits: 

  • Time saver (e.g., create welcome and confirmation sequences when guest books) 
  • Personalisation and dynamic content at scale 
  • Create and maintain your guest relationship, using a relevant and scheduled email marketing guest journey  

 

6. The ripple effect – multiply the touch points 

The coronavirus outbreak has increased the worldwide usage of social media by 21% (Statista, 2021). Meanwhile, in the UK, 93% of the people aged between 25- and 34-years old own a social media network profile. When you look at social media usage and the great potential to reach a wider audience on a regular basis, it clearly could be your best friend to develop brand awareness. Email marketing can be used to promote your social media, add potential staycationers to your followers, and ultimately multiply the touch points between your guests and your brand. 

 

Maud Bruyere, For-Sight’s Inbound Marketing Executive.

Sara is For-Sight’s Technical Analyst. We develop our solution, for our users, with our users – and Sara’s position is “a central point among teams” and key to For-Sight’s innovation process. 

If you aren’t familiar with hotel CRM, here is what you need to know before going into this interview.  For-Sight’s Hotel CRM and Marketing solution is designed to help hospitality businesses enhance the guest experience throughout the whole guest journey. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the market and guest behaviour. That is why more than ever before properties need to understand their guests’ needs and preferences. By connecting data from your PMS and your other core-transactional systems, For-Sight‘s solution gives you a single view of your guests – to engage with your guests in a way that is both personalised and effective, as you can analyse your guest data and performancewhich can also be automated. 

Looking back at the origin of For-Sight, the solution started from a bespoke demand from a Scottish hotel in Edinburgh with a precise brief: a CRM solution that understands and answers the hospitality business’s needs. We’ve listened, we’ve learned and we’ve delivered.  

 A key aspect of our Product team’s role is addressing and finding the perfect balance between building the right product and building the product right”, said Amelie Bruhat, For-Sight’s Head of Product & Data. 

To building the right productwe need to make sure that we are not building a product based on faulty assumptions and ignorance toward the goals and user requirements of our customers. To build the product rightwe need to find that balance between the technical necessities and product goals. The agreed-upon solution for the business problem should drive the choice of technologies, and the trade-offs should be acceptable based on the business/user requirements. 
Sara’s role as our Technical Analyst is key to helping us deliver on this” 

Since the beginning, our product has evolved, but these values still drive our ambitionsour clients are our top priority when it comes to innovating and rethinking our solution 

Looking ahead, For-Sight solutions and services are driven by: 

  • Research – informed decision  
  • Analytics – we believe data reflects the truth 
  • Users’ insights – we build our product for our clients, so it is essential we understand their preferences. 

 We’ve had the privilege to sit down one-on-one with Sara, and pick her brain! 

What is your role as a Technical Analyst at For-Sight? 

My role as a Technical Analyst is to work side by side with the Product Manager to record our customers’ requirements, in a way that must be understandable cross-team, especially to the customer service, sales, marketing, and development teams, and in a way that includes all consideration from all teams within For-Sight as well as from customers. Being part of the Product team, I also have the chance to work on many aspects of the product, including its user experience and interface. 

What is your mission? 

My mission as a Technical Analyst is to facilitate the construction of a product that reflects our customers’ needs and is in line with our product vision, as well as to improve processes at a cross-teams level. 

How do you help For-Sight clients?  

One of the things I love the most about my job is to have the chance to talk to a lot of our customers. When this happens, I’m always happy to engage with them to understand what their needs are. I love recording their needs long-term, but also making sure that the small things that can be addressed immediately are appropriately taken care of. 

 What do you like the most about your job? 

I love my job as it varies every day and, despite its name, involves a lot of creativity. But what I like the most is that as a Technical Analyst I really have a privileged position: being in a central point among teams, I have the luck to see the amazing job my colleagues do every day as a unique team for the delivery of a state-of-the-art product and feel a tangible part of it. 

Get in touch with our experts to find out more about our solution: Contact us about Hospitality CRM  

For-Sight’s Inbound Marketing Executive Maud Bruyere looks at how data can help identify opportunities to increase guest revenue as the industry re-opens and beyond. 

2020 saw a number of restrictions and guidelines that impacted hospitality guest revenue and will linger into the future. As the re-opening approaches, bookings are increasing due to pent up demand, but what about the guest revenue of tomorrow? From multiple data sources across your systems, CRM technology can define a single source of truth to help you identify opportunities, both immediate and long term.

“All knowledge is connected to all other knowledge. The fun is in making the connections.” – Arthur C. Aufderheide*.

How can “the fun” happen, and connections be made for hospitality businesses to identify opportunities? In this article, we discuss how data empowers hospitality businesses and can help to increase guest revenue. 

Guest Segmentation – Make it personal  

Best practices to optimise hospitality revenue are characterised by your ability to segment your guests to create a personalised guest experience.  

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has changed your way of personalising your guest journey.  With social distancing measures – no more handshakes to greet your guests. The ‘make it personal’ touch has to be re-thought and adjusted while still acknowledging that every single guest is unique and expects to be known as an individual. However, maintaining a personal approach at scale is not easy.  

Guest segmentation can help identify and maximise opportunity by distinguishing meaningful groups of guests that share common behaviours and preferences. With the use of segmentation, you can follow a guest-centric approach to building relevant offers and guest matches.   

How does it work? 

Remember, the fun happens when you can create connections! Data available in your CRM provides knowledge on your guests’ journey by connecting your Property Management System (PMS) data, guest sentiment data, guest contact details, among other data from your core operational and marketing systems. From this data, you will be able to build guest profiles of your ideal guests, delight them and drive loyalty. Having in mind that post-COVID guest preferences have changed, your Guest Segmentation must reflect this. For instance, GWI research show that generation Z looks for new experiences – 32% of the Gen Z craves for ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’. On the other hand, older guests want familiarity – 32% of boomers think about ‘going back to a place they know’ when planning a vacation. Has your segmentation been updated to reflect new 2021 guest concerns? 

How can segmentation help you increase your reach? 

Building and automating a personalised itinerary based on your guest profiles allows you to develop new services and offers to thrill your guests. As you can reach a very specific audience, the relevance of your guest communication is also enhanced – you speak to the right customers, at the right time.   

To illustrate

Your hotel offers a surf class, and since re-opening measures have been announced, you observe strong demand for this activity. From your data, you can tell that reservation comes from the youngest generations of your guest. Great news! As well as being an instant increase in guest revenue, it also highlights opportunities to upsell, to develop this offer and to customise your guest journey. ‘Sophie the Surfer’ can be the one persona you build to create relevant guest communication. 

RFM – Insightful and easy-to-use marketing tool for your segmentation  

To help with segmentation RFM is a powerful marketing tool. RFM stands for:  

  • Recency: When was the last time the guest has booked?  
  • Frequency: How often this guest has booked in a given time period? and  
  • Monetary: How much money the guest had spent per stay?  

This recognised metric allows you to rank and target high revenue generating guests, as well as understanding their behaviour. At For-Sight, RFM categorisation is available to all our customers and many use this quick and easy to use metric, to drive loyalty and increase Customer Lifetime Value.  

Guest sentiment – Listen to your guest  

Alongside segmentation and use of the RFM tool, Guest sentiment is essential to highlight opportunities and assess the risks. The COVID-19 crisis has raised new concerns for guests. Thus, there is new feedback that hospitality must take into consideration to assure their guest a safe stay. Guest confidence and safety are two challenges that hospitality businesses are facing. Guest sentiment precisely captures satisfaction in a variety of aspects, from the tastiness of the food to the cleanness of amenities or reviews related to COVID-19 pandemic concerns, such as the respect of government regulations.   

Other guest reviews and pictures are likely to inform guest decisions. Expedia group research found that pictures, information, and reviews are especially relevant looking ahead”. ‘Expert reviews influence more than 50% travellers, while pre-pandemic that influence was approximately representing 35% travellers.  

From the qualitative guest feedbacks, guest sentiment can be transcribed by CRM tools, such as For-Sight Guest Engagement, into quantitative data. Manual processing of that information can lack precision and is highly time-consuming. Automating feedback collection and generating indicators, such as the RFM, will let you track, review your operations and guest communications in order to reach your objectives. 

Qualify the data – Pinpoint and –  

Having discussed how you can access business opportunities; it is important in this process to qualify the data to achieve a successful strategy in the short term but also for long term planning 

Identifying opportunities creates scope for improvement and adjustment to this “new normal”. For-Sight’s goal of ‘Unlocking the guest journey’ reflects this, as data give you the key to pinpoint the positives and what could be reviewed to perform better and delight your guests. Arthur C. Aufderheide’s quote “The fun is in making the connections” illustrates the purpose of our article perfectly, as the power of technology allows connections of rich data to give you a single view of your guests, to analyse, support your decision-making process and bring the fun (and revenue opportunities) into your guest journey. 

*Arthur C. Aufderheide. 1922-2013. A “mummy doctor” that followed a pathologist career, with pioneering research on the diseases of the ancient world. 

©Forth Communication Ltd 2021. Incorporated in Scotland (SC114093).
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