Mr. O'Rourke

Sales & Marketing: Customer Loyalty

360 Guest Marketing: From Booking to Check Out

By Tom O'Rourke, President & CEO, O'Rourke Hospitality

Mobile devices are not only important when planning trips, they are indispensable to guests when they are on the actual trip. According to the Expedia and Egencia Mobile Index published last year, travelers rank their smartphones as their top priority when on the go. Mobile devices are so important that survey respondents ranked them higher than a toothbrush or a driver's license.

The mobile experience extends beyond the point of booking the room-it's now an integral part of the journey. In fact, more than half of the survey's respondents agreed to feeling "lost" without their smartphones on a vacation, and 35% reported using their phones more on vacation than they typically do at home.

Today, most hoteliers' marketing concerns revolve around finding new guests, enticing them to book, and getting them happily checked into their rooms. But what if you thought about how a guest's journey begins at the moment they book a room? What if you developed a mobile marketing and communications strategy that initiates as soon as they make their reservation with you?

Be with Guests Every Step of the Way

The average smartphone user interacts with their device 150-200 times per day. If your guest books five nights, that's, theoretically at least, as many as 1,000 opportunities for you to engage with them during their stay!

Once guests are en route to, and then find themselves firmly on your property, the opportunities you have to engage with them are nearly unlimited. You can start to encourage them to take advantage of everything you offer before they even enter your lobby for the first time.

Through the power of mobile moments, you can now hold your guests' interest like never before. By harnessing the power of mobile marketing automation effectively, you stand a great chance of seeing your guests more engaged, which tends to result in more revenue for you. Give them what they want and expect: helpful reminders, timely offers, instant customer service, and memorable moments that match their physical experience to their digital world.

Mobile marketing automation lets you be right there with your guests, in a sense, by employing the aid of a couple of new technologies. Geofencing allows you to set up fences or zones anywhere-on the road to your property, at the airport, or on-property- that will trigger targeted messaging to your guests based on their geolocation, or GPS coordinates. Beacons are tiny (usually smaller than a front-desk bell) and can be discreetly placed around your property to trigger laser-focused push messages to your guests' phones.

Mobile marketing automation delivers value in real time throughout the guest's journey using analytics to determine the experience that best suits the guest's context (where he is, what she is looking to accomplish in that moment). By triggering push messaging to their mobile devices based on geofences that you set up, or a guest's proximity to a beacon, you can augment their experience with your property, your amenities, your brand.

Monetizing Mobile Moments

Through the power of mobile marketing automation campaigns, you can upgrade the guest experience and increase revenue through helpful reminders, timely offers, upsells, cross-sells, instant customer service, and memorable moments that seamlessly match guests' physical experience with the digital world.

A few offers you could make to guests via mobile marketing automation might include golf outings, spa treatments, dinner deals, yoga classes, local area tours, pool parties, on-site concerts, happy hour alerts, pop-up promotions, limited-time-upgrades, extend-your-stay flash offers. Those are just a handful of examples of what you might promote using a combination of geofences, beacons, and segmentation to achieve incremental revenue generation.

Now, figure in all the amenities, meals, deals, add-ons, special offers, and various service points. Put personalized, perfectly-timed messaging around those right onto their screens and watch your guests feel better cared for and your bottom line get a lift.

Here are a few examples of how you could use mobile marketing automation to enhance the guest experience:

  • Before Stay Pre-departure, en route, arrival, checking in: Send a series of welcome messages and chats.

  • During Stay Send pushes based on segments like demographics (e.g., interests, age), events (e.g., checking in, visited bar, signed up for a massage), and proximity (e.g., passing the restaurant, in the lobby, by the spa).

  • After Stay Last morning/afternoon/evening, checking out, departure, post-stay: Send a series of departure messages, surveys, and chats.

Mobile marketing automation campaigns allow you to elevate the quality of your guests' overall experience with your brand, in so many ways. The power of real-time mobile services allows you to curate the guest experience. You can be with them every step of the way. Once they download your app and turn on push notifications, you might say that's when the fun really begins.

The Power of Segmentation

Think about all the different guests who have stayed with you. Have they stayed with you before? Are they traveling with children? Do they enjoy golfing? Are they traveling for business or attending a wedding? Did they request feather pillows last time they stayed with you? Are they traveling a particularly long distance? Did they spend a fair amount of time at your pool's swim-up bar?

What you already know about each of your guests can go a long way. By integrating with your PMS or CRM, a mobile platform lets you leverage demographic and behavioral data to customize guests' experiences through tailored messaging such as special offers, loyalty rewards, and reminders.

When you're able to incorporate this level of intelligence into your messaging, your guest services leaps into the realm of true personalization. You're able to be a step ahead of your guests, anticipating their interests and preferences. That's a powerful connection that breeds good relations and loyalty. By leveraging PMS data, hoteliers can create more meaningful experiences for guests who will be made to feel more at home.

These positive experiences for guests as well as their increased sense of loyalty means more revenue for hotels. By suggesting a bottle of champagne for their anniversary or recommending a special golf outing for her or a whiskey tasting for him, you've made their day and helped your bottom line, assuming they accept the offer.

That's impressive, for both you and guests. But you can make it even more so if you throw mobile marketing automation into the mix. Not only are you communicating with your guests based on their preferences, but you're also able to time your messages based on their location.

You can inject spontaneity into a guest's stay by using beacons strategically placed about your property. If someone who has been to your lobby bar already walks by the next day, you could trigger a push notification that alerts them to a special drink deal just for regular patrons like themselves. Or you could use geofences in a similar way to send a pre-arrival message to Mom, when she and the kids land at the airport, about reserving their place at the children's pool party happening that weekend.

That combination of personal knowledge and location can be extremely powerful and profitable. It's an incredible way for properties to differentiate themselves and to adapt to their guests' swiftly changing demands by serving them on their mobile devices directly.

Conversing with Guests

Chat, as part of your mobile marketing automation strategy, serves as your virtual concierge, front-desk, room-service, and hostess-all in one. Guests can check-in, order breakfast in bed, make dinner reservations, and secure tickets to a show from a real person right from their smartphone.

When your guests can avoid waiting in long lines and get impeccable customer service virtually on-demand, they tend be much happier guests. And it's a level of service they've come to expect.

A chat interface is easy to use and can be set up with automated messaging and email alerts.

Guests can initiate dialogue with the hotel through messaging like you might do through any text or messenger app or they can reply to offers directly. In either case, someone at the hotel is notified by email, and can then easily reply to the guest and continue the conversation.

More and more people would much rather reach you at the push of a button, in real time, and not have to call you on the phone or send you an email.

Benefits of Mobile Marketing Automation

You could count many reasons why mobile marketing automation represents a major marketing step forward, but a few stand out. Your guests only receive information when it is most relevant to them, resulting in more engagement. You can drive promotions and get real-time feedback and analytics. And guests have the chance to communicate with you in two-way chat that takes your guest services to a whole new level. It has become increasingly clear that embracing mobile in your overall business approach with as much vigor, enthusiasm, and habituation as most people do in their everyday lives is the best way to engage your guests more and more as we quickly move further on into a mobile-enhanced world.

Tom O’Rourke founded O’Rourke Hospitality in 2001 and grew it into an award-winning hospitality marketing firm specializing in hotel website design and development, Internet marketing, SEO services, and mobile marketing. His innate ability to see new possibilities and generate fresh ideas, combined with his passion to bring these ideas to fruition, differentiates O’Rourke Hospitality from more traditional agencies. Prior to O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing, Mr. O’Rourke partnered in the growth and development of two successful and innovative enterprises where he honed his ability to move a concept into a reality with dramatic results by applying solid business practices and a high level of creativity. Mr. O'Rourke can be contacted at 978-465-5955 or Tom@ORourkeHospitality.com Please visit http://www.orourkehospitality.com for more information. Extended Bio...

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