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Tip 1: Don’t Forget About Me

Over the next month we’ll be sharing some hospitality sales and marketing tips. Our message is simple: to acknowledge, appreciate and engage with your customers. For our first tip, we’ve called it “Don’t Forget About Me”.

Many years ago we at Casa Collina stayed in a hotel in rural Connecticut when visiting business travel agents. A small family run hotel, nice enough, nothing amazing but it was in the right area for the meeting the next day and the cost was mid-range around $160 a night. Even now they keep sending us emails. Nothing stalker- esque or invasive but interesting enough to keep us engaged without resorting to the unsubscribe button.

Now we may never have a reason to return to this beautiful part of New England again but yet there is a possibility that we may. Moreover if anyone asks, we have a recommendation to offer our contacts and with their regular communications, we also get really good exclusive offers. We’re just one of thousands of guests over the years but they still send us birthday greetings, seasonal best wishes and special offers. So if a small hotel can do this, there is no excuse for anyone. But time and again, we see contact details being unused.

So first things first. Where do you get this data from in the first place? Most clients we work with are often surprised how much data they actually have and we’re often surprised on how little they use it. It’s only when Casa come probing that we all realise that most clients are actually sitting on a treasure trove of information that has been largely ignored.

So where is this treasure? For B2C, your PMS is usually a great place to start followed by the WIFI sign-up page. Try and look at old registration cards, business card drops, restaurant booking systems, old spa treatment information and gym membership lists.

For B2B, if you don’t have a CRM then have a look at previous enquiries. Try and download your GDS reports for your TMCs and consortia clients. Look at all provisional and booked MICE business, go back through group enquiries. Ask your sales people.

You’ll be surprised how much data you can find. So where to put it once you’ve found it?

Ideally you should invest in some legally compliant data management software to store this information and to give you some tools to play with it. One of the most popular email marketing systems is Mailchimp which allows you to keep this data and craft marketing messages via email. It’s what we use.

Now you have your data you should probably consider whether and how to segment the various clients lists. At the very least we recommend that you should separate your B2B from your B2C.

Remember your B2B are the businesses such as travel agents and corporates booking your property and your B2C are the guests that actually stay. Both need communicating with but they should receive a different kind of message

These can be further divided up into corporate, travel management company, venue placement agency, retail agent etc depending on how much detail you want to go into and how much data you discover.

Similarly with your B2C lists, you can sub-compartmentalise them into F&B, spa, wedding, weekend, mid-week, nice, not so nice etc.

What information you keep ultimately depends on what you want to do with it. If we work on the premise that we will use the data collected to communicate with the ex guests (or ex clients) in order to ask them for their business then an email address will suffice. If you want to send everyone a Xmas card then the full postal address will be needed. If you want to send them birthday greetings, then the date of birth and the postal address are required.

So work on the basis that you can do most things with an email address and anything more than that is a bonus. When you have more information, your marketing can become much more targeted, personalised and creative. 

Now what to do with this information? Look for data throughout your operation, store it carefully, then come up with some ways to use it so as to engage, appreciate and develop business from your known clients.

However first a few words on data laws. We’re not lawyers or experts in the field of legal data capture and storage so don’t take our word as an authority on the subject. Take independent advice in the jurisdiction you are located.

In essence though laws are there (or not) to protect personal data and allow anyone to have ready access to their information being stored. So ensure that you have simple mechanisms in place to allow people to unsubscribe and to be forgotten by you. Good practice should not stop you from conducting effective direct marketing though.

Do collect information legally, use it fairly, collect only the information you need, make sure it’s well protected by passwords and only keep it as long as you need it. Don’t mislead anyone as to why you want their data, don’t collect lots of it for the sake of it and don’t keep it hanging around forever. If someone wants to be deleted from your mailing list then delete them. They should never have to ask twice.

We have found that if anything, the recent tightening up of data laws has forced many businesses to really fine tune their marketing messages to keep that database engaged. This can only be a good thing. We’ll discuss with you next week how to keep your newly acquired database engaged.

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