Attracting new guests is a daily goal for every hotelier. Booking new visitors is essential for increasing revenue, reputation building and driving the business forward. However, even after successfully putting in the hard work needed to get them onto the property, it’s critical that operators also have a plan to convince them to return in the future.
Returning guests should be viewed as “low hanging fruit” for hotel operators. They’re familiar with the area and, hopefully, had a great on-property experience. While some guests will not return simply because they want to explore new destinations, there are still plenty of travelers who will gladly make return visits to the places they love. However, it’s the hotel’s responsibility to ensure they stay top of mind with these travelers. To do this, hotels must develop and deliver a compelling message that will encourage these travelers to return. It’s also crucial that hoteliers keep guest contact information on file and up to date using a property management system.
Developing your message
Crafting an impactful message can be challenging, but offering past guests an incentive is a great way to grab their attention. For example, offering “25% off for returning guests” will surely stir up interest from travelers who haven’t visited in a while. However, even with the excitement generated from the offer, operators must still protect their financial interests. By structuring the deal so it’s only redeemable by verified returning guests during low occupancy periods, travelers are able to receive a great deal while hotels fill rooms that would have likely remained empty.
Additionally, we know that all properties cannot financially absorb a special offer or discount, so simply letting past guests know what’s new and exciting at the hotel is a great communications tactic. Recent renovations and new amenities, as well as new attractions and restaurants in the local community, are all newsworthy and will be of interest to hotel guests, so building a message around an enhanced experience is a clever way to influence their travel decisions.
Delivering your message
As important as crafting a great message is properly delivering it. The key to this process is the quality of contact information that you have on file for past guests. With a reliable hotel property management system, operators should be able to retrieve names, mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. Next, operators must decide how to distribute their message. Below are a few tips for re-connecting with past guests:
Email: To avoid being “blacklisted” as SPAM, it’s encouraged to partner with an agency that specializes in email marketing or use a do-it-yourself system, like Constant Contact or MailChimp. In both cases, specialized software will help operators manage campaigns from concept through delivery.
Direct Mail: Similar to email, it’s best to partner with a mailing house that specializes in mass mailings. They can help with putting together the best sized mailer so production and postage costs don’t mitigate future profits.
Phone Calls: This is probably the easiest, but most time consuming, communication method. Again, there are call centers that can be contracted for outreach, but this can also be done by hotel team members. Calling directly adds a personal touch that cannot be achieved with email or direct mail, but converting calls into reservations will present a unique set of challenges.
The last part of the outreach equation is timing and frequency. If operators wish to fill rooms just before the summer rush, they’ll likely need to kick-off their communications campaign soon after the New Year. Or if fall is the desired travel period, waiting until after July 4th may help with grabbing the attention of travelers. Additionally, multiple rounds of outreach are sure to be needed to achieve reservations goals. This process will take time, as well as some trial and error, but developing a core of returning guests will help hotels sustain their year-over-year success.
Contact us today to schedule a personalized demo to see how a property management system can get your hotel on its path to profits.