Aren’t Airbnb, hotels.com, booking.com and Late Rooms doing well! And yet they don’t own a bed between them!
How in the minted pillow have hotels allowed this to happen? They are now slaves to a group of intermediaries who are stealing their lunch as they demand their cut from the hotel customer’s wallet.
How have hotels allowed this to happen?
The simple reason for this is that the intermediaries have done a great job in having a relationship with the customer, which, at the end of the day, is the only thing that really matters: Providing a good, useful service.
On top of not keeping up with the intermediaries in a marketing sense, hotels also offer largely awful customer service. Despite them sitting on riches of consumer data, they choose not to use it. Direct hotels (the ones with the actual beds) have my online behaviour, my mobile behaviour, call centre interactions, booking history, my dinner/spa preferences and social media comments, yet do they target me as I’m about to book once again for my wife’s birthday this year…? Err, no! I even make it easy for them – my wife’s birthday is the same date each year.
How can hotels fight back?
In short: By understanding the customer as a way to defend against the intermediaries. It’s not just about executing marketing campaigns well – it’s about building a deeper relationship with customers that offers a bigger benefit than the aggregators offer.
Hotels need to change consumer behaviour from where it is now with consumers searching on Google for “hotels Manchester”, only to be presented with wall-to-wall intermediaries and aggregators. They need to change this behaviour so I don’t search in this way but instead go straight to the hotel I have enjoyed staying at before because the benefits and ease make consumers want to interact this way.
Marketing then comes in to join my data together in order to communicate with me to support this new approach and furnish me with these benefits in a timely fashion. Campaigns such as the following, which are easily achievable, would make a huge difference to customer service and returns:
- The win back campaign – join together online and call centre data to see when I book, in order to proactively contact me by SMS or outbound call at the right time.
- Improve customer experience – take online behaviour and my location and optimise the landing pages according to my preferences.
- The Upsell – combine my loyalty points to highlight upgrades I can achieve with my direct hotel balance: Also great customer service.
- Convert abandoned booking forms – hotels don’t have to discount necessarily but sometimes we customers genuinely forget or are interrupted in the booking process. To get an email with all my variables and a simple click to pick up the process is genuinely useful.
- The Cross-sell – great, you have my booking. Now recognise that in real time and promote spa, theatre, restaurant and bar offers. Go ahead – improve your margin. Free money!
So if hotels want their slice of the customer pie back they need to step up and start putting the customer in the middle of their marketing and data world.
Fortunately for them these types of campaign are easily achievable by simply using their customer profiles for multi-channel optimisation.
Hotels getting it right…
We are currently working a central London Hotel Group who is responding to market trends by exploring customer experience.
The Group has bought into the vision of Profile Cloud as a Customer Data Management Platform, using segments and triggers to personalise the web experience for visitors and firing emails when room and restaurant reservations are abandoned. It also wants to further understand customer behaviour using geo-location for international visitors coming to the UK.