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

#PrepStartsNow

 

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.

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. 

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. 

This year and for the second time For-Sight is sponsoring the Hotel Marketing Awards of the HMA – Hotel Marketing Association – for the Best Partnership Marketing Campaign Category. Recognition through awards is not just a matter of prestige. We have thought about A.W.A.R.D key benefits, that brought together, will make you consider entering the Awards.  

A.W.A.R.D key benefits: 

  • Achievement.  You have done great, and your performance records speak for themselves. Now that you have been successful in a campaign by meeting your customers’ expectations, use this achievement to boost customers’ perception and strengthen your message. 
  • Win. The obvious reason – the winning. Winning or being nominated in a specific category helps to improve brand awareness. The positive outcomes of an award will extend to your brand image and services 
  • Attract new partners. You have demonstrated the ability to deliver a unique and creative marketing solution. Awards will reinforce your credibility, and therefore, are a good motive for partners to respond favourably towards new partnerships. 
  • Recognition. Rewarding your team for their success is great to boost motivation and empowering your employees.  
  • Differentiate. Awards can objectively support your competitive advantageThe judges are an external party to your business. Their impartiality will contribute to the trustworthiness of your marketing message. 

A little extra flavour, specific takeaways in entering the category: Best Partnership Marketing Campaign.

  • It is Free Marketing.
  • Everyone welcome, you don’t need to be a member of the HMA.
  • Win-win for both you and your Marketing partner.
  • Inspire us, we love to be surrounded by talent. 

The deadline for award submissions is the 31st of March. To enter the awards, please follow this link. 

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.

©Forth Communication Ltd 2021. Incorporated in Scotland (SC114093).
Registered office at 45 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, Scotland. EH2 2PJ

Privacy Policy Use of Cookies

Built with by Verb Digital

.