Email is Still King of Hotel Marketing
by Sam Trotter, Marketing Strategy Manager
When it comes to the marketing strategy at your hotel, it’s important to remember that email is still an effective tool and it’s fairly inexpensive to use. That combination is powerful for both your reach and your budget.
At Charlestowne, we see a healthy open rate of about 20 percent, with 6 percent visiting our website. Those percentages translate to impactful revenues, and that success is the result of some best practices that other hoteliers can learn from.
Invest in a quality CRM
A great CRM (customer relationship management) system is an asset, especially if you invest in one that will connect directly to your PMS (property management systems) and can be fully integrated into your website.
Your PMS will automate confirmation emails, but usually they are unattractive and don’t reflect your marketing message. With a good CRM you can customize automated emails with your colors, graphics and photography to put your best face forward.
These customized confirmation emails are a marketing opportunity, allowing you to communicate further with guests by offering another way to market products or services. Use this opportunity to mention the hotel’s restaurant or spa and invite guests to book these services at the point of confirmation.
Then, prior to the stay, perhaps five days out, send another email welcoming guests to their upcoming stay. At this point, the email can offer an upgrade opportunity complete with beautiful imagery and short bullet points as to why the upsell is beneficial for the guest. To determine upsell opportunities, look no further than your own data. If you know that you always have a quiet Sunday check-in, you can confidently sell a late check-out on an automated basis. It’s a value to guests, and it adds revenue to your coffers.
The CRM can also send out an automated survey to your guests at check-out. This immediate feedback is invaluable, especially if there is an issue. You can address the complaint and recover before guests make their way to TripAdvisor or other review sites, thereby helping to manage your online reputation management.
Another added perk: The CRM can manage audiences. For email marketing to be effective, your campaigns must be sent to the appropriate customers. Consider the guest who would be most likely to benefit from your message. For example, when offering a parking package, only send the communication to those in your database from drive-markets as they’re the most likely to appreciate and use this offer. Those from a fly-in market might find the offer meaningless.
Stay on message and reflect the branding
This isn’t the time to send a long email because your message will get lost. It also isn’t the time to overload your emails with busy gimmicks such as countdown clocks and long lists like “20 reasons to book your New York getaway today.”
Keep it simple and to the point while staying on message to reflect your brand. Tell guests what you are trying to communicate by providing photos that back up the experience—and make sure to provide a clear call to action.
We strongly believe that an effective call to action will immediately direct visitors to a landing page, which is housed on our website and specific to the email campaign at hand.
You also can use the landing page for other campaigns you might be pushing. Let’s say that you want to advertise the same offer on your CVB’s website. Sometimes you don’t always have the space to say everything you want, so you can direct visitors to the landing page for more information.
The subject line matters
Data will be your best friend for subject lines, as it will help you figure out what does and doesn’t work. Look at the data to determine key open drivers: Do you use the guest’s first name? Do you mention the percentage discount in the subject line? Does click bait work or does it just leave people upset?
You can find this data in many places. Marketing companies are constantly conducting research on subject lines that receive the most opens. Likewise, your marketing partners will often send out surveys to clients to gauge success or failure of subject lines.
Don’t forget mobile
We find that a majority of email opens happen via handheld device. That’s why it’s important for your emails to also be designed for mobile. If they aren’t, then you could be losing out on up to 60 percent of your opens.
Because mobile is so huge, it’s equally important to offer click-to-call technology. Many people don’t like to enter credit card information on mobile, so having an easy way to call you will help to capture direct bookings.
By integrating these best practices into your email marketing strategy, you can be sure that this inexpensive tool will work for you and your bottom line.
To learn more about Charlestowne Hotels, one of the top hotel management companies in the U.S., please visit www.CharlestowneHotels.com.