Thinking about conversion channels for former hotel guests
Hoteliers spend a lot of time and money marketing their properties to new visitors. But an often-overlooked way to gain future business is to communicate with and re-convert your former guests.
Not only do you know that they like to travel but also that they have stayed at your property before.
A poll by Cheapflights showed that 85% of surveyed travelers will vacation to the same place more than once. What does 85% of your property’s past guests look like to you?
Reaching out to past guests is like dating. The first conversation is usually the hardest.
Here are five ideas you can use to “break the ice” with your past guests, and warm them up to repeat future business.
1. Real-world outreach
Your guests get dozens, even hundreds, of emails every day. While email is still a great marketing resource, your outreach might get better noticed if you do something unexpected. Send them a package.
You already have all the information you need. You likely captured their mailing address when they booked a room. Send them a “thank you” card for staying at your property.
Send them a small gift that they will see every day to remind them of your property. It could be a magnetic refrigerator calendar with your property’s logo and contact info on it. Or, it could be a nice keychain.
The thought will be appreciated, and when it comes time to vacation again, they will remember you.
Email is still an excellent way to reach guests. There are an estimated 4.5 billion email accounts in the world. Your average guest checks his or her email 15 times a day.
While it may be hard to get your voice heard on such a crowded platform, email is just too lucrative to ignore.
You likely already have a list of your guests’ email addresses. If you haven’t started an email newsletter for your property yet, there is no time like the present. Getting started with email can be surprising affordable.
3. Timely Reminders
Whether you use email or snail mail, remind them about your property when it’s vacation time. Your guests likely go on vacation around the same time every year.
So, send them an email or a card about a month before their next trip. Offer them a discount, free meals, free tours, or some other perk.
It’s rare for travelers to catch all the sights when they visit a new place. You’re in the perfect position to give your guests new ideas. With your travel reminder, include a booklet or blog post of ‘things you might have missed”.
It can include some lesser-known travel spots, restaurants, or events close to your property. Give them a reason to come back (to see things they missed last time), and then give them an incentive (a discount).
4. Loyalty Programs
Big chain hotels have used loyalty programs for years, with great success. Try one of your own. Give your “club members” or “card holders” discounts to local tour guides, restaurants, and venues.
Present them thoughtful gift bags when they arrive. Give them complimentary upgrades, or meals.
Find ways to give your loyalty program value, to encourage those 85% of repeat visitors to stay with you again.
5. Social Media
Persuading guests to engage with you on social media can be tricky. Finding something interesting to say a couple times a week can be even more tricky.
But if you play it right, social media can be a powerful way to forge real relationships with your guests, which will lead to more repeat visits.
Share beautiful photos of views from your property. Share stories of your ongoing remodel, or the new hot tub you’re getting installed. Share info about upcoming local events like concerts and comedy tours.
Respond to guest comments to humanize yourself, and show that you’re interested in them.
Of course hotels need to keep attracting new guests, but working on ways to keep in touch with former guests is a great way to secure a steady source of repeat business.
NB: This is an analysis by Brandon Dennis, the vice president of marketing at Cloudbeds.
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