by Michael Osborne
With a record 107 million people traveling last holiday season, we’re all eager for the promising booking potential that awaits this year. The problem is, the travel and hospitality industry has more competition than ever before – Airbnb alone represents a completely different way of meeting travelers’ lodging and experiential travel needs, and OTAs and discount airlines are aggressively marketing to consumers. Then there’s the sheer challenge of effectively engaging and meeting the expectations of today’s hyper-connected, hyper-distracted customers, who abandon travel bookings 82 percent of the time.
So how do you compete and successfully win them over during this crucial season?
Personalize your marketing based on what you already know.
Hotels can collect a lot of data on their visitors and customers, and the more you can tailor your marketing to their unique preferences based on that data, the more they’re likely to pay attention. Do certain customers prefer rooms with certain features? Do they have rewards points to use? Do they typically travel with family or solo? Sending the right message with the right offers also reminds them you care about their experience – and that can help drive even more bookings.
Use last year’s patterns to predict this year’s purchases.
Holiday time has its traditions, and many customers travel to the same destination year-over-year. Offering personalized promotions or reminding consumers of rewards they can redeem for a trip they’re likely to take again will have a great hit rate and also drive home that you know what they want. Evaluating consumers’ behavioral patterns to identify full-service customers versus the value hunters will help you tailor relevant offers at just the right time.
Make the marketing experience as customer-focused as the travel experience.
You already focus much of your efforts on making the on-property or travel experience as convenient and comfortable as possible for your customers – think about applying that to your marketing as well. Tailor the message to the individual by segmenting your communications, target customers with services and options that fit their profile, and make it super easy to find exactly what they want – by accurately predicting and delivering it to them via email or on your website.
Send abandonment messages earlier in the booking funnel.
Hotels tend to target customers at the very last stage of booking, but that makes it difficult to educate, inform, and interact with them prior to purchase. If someone is actively engaged on your site, send an abandonment email within just a few hours of them leaving. Did the visitor input travel dates during their search? Include those dates in the email to personalize and make it easier for the customer to pick up where they left off.
‘Tis the season to step up your strategies. Ensuring each traveler’s experience with you is as personalized as when they stay at one of your properties can convert customers this holiday season and keep them loyal year-round.