Seventy-two percent of today’s consumers say they only engage with brands who tailor messaging to their interests. With this shift in consumer expectation also comes a shift in marketing priorities: 89% of marketers across every industry are now focused on personalizing the customer experience in some way.
On the email front, Travel & Hospitality is actively making the shift toward personalization, with 63% of their sends now targeted to individual customers. But in order to successfully drive bookings and retain more customers, hoteliers must be more intentional about understanding their audience and delivering highly relevant content visitors want to see.
With so many personalization possibilities out there and so many travelers to please, the largest challenge for many is knowing where to start. This list should help:
- Trigger email campaigns based on historical and real-time behavior.
First things first: to make your campaigns more compelling, you need to personalize them based on what you already know about your customers. Studies show that the majority of consumers, including travel-savvy millennials, are frustrated by emails unrelated to their interests. It’s essential for hotels to utilize customer behavioral data to understand their preferences (specific travel dates and destinations, preferred properties and time of year to book, the list goes on)—and incorporate this data into your campaigns. Most importantly, in order for email communications and content to be most accurate, marketers must be mindful of connecting customer interaction and information across channels, devices, and touchpoints into a single customer history.
This approach has benefited major hotel chains such as Hilton, whose customer engagement has increased since they leveraged behavioral data to power personalized emails over batch-and-blasts. In my recent conversation with Hilton, they said, “Now we send fewer emails over the same time period, but our engagement and KPIs are up... really, more email does not result in more revenue—more personalized email and communication results in more revenue.”
- Implement Browse Abandonment email campaigns with detailed content.
Browse Abandonment email campaigns are effective in identifying occasional browsers and converting them into regular customers. In the early stages of trip planning, travelers browse multiple sites looking for options. In many cases, they simply view prices and availability before clicking away from the site. Browse Abandonment campaigns help engage these casual visitors and encourage them to book with your hotel.
For Browse Abandonment campaigns to work, they need to be tailored to the customer’s interests based on how they interacted with your site. Use the customer’s browsing history to determine which locations they viewed during a session—then, follow up by sending them an email with personalized content based on their browsing behavior. For example, if they entered specific travel dates or destinations, customize the emails accordingly. In addition, send the email within four hours of their session to ensure the content is still relevant to them and they don’t get too far down the funnel elsewhere.
- Build intelligent booking abandonment campaigns to convert more customers.
Developing personalized Booking Abandonment campaigns is another strategy hoteliers can and should use to convert more customers. These campaigns consist of a series of emails to remind your customers they left your site without booking, and they’re more widely used across the industry considering Travel & Hospitality sees some of highest abandonment rates (82%). In many cases, hotels wait until the last stage of the booking process to contact these users, but it’s often too late to convert them at this point.
For Booking Abandonment campaigns to pay off, it’s essential to trigger these emails earlier in the sales funnel. For example, if a user enters booking dates on your site and then clicks away, send them an email within 30 minutes of leaving your site. Include the customer’s name, the dates they were looking to book, and the cost of the booking. These details are an effective way to convert your customers before it’s too late.
- Make the most of opportunities to re-engage previous customers.
Hoteliers should take advantage of opportunities to re-engage their customers using personalized email campaigns. One highly effective practice is to implement Booking Discount Alerts to let customers know when the items they viewed on your site decrease significantly in price. This keeps price-conscious travelers interested in your brand and motivates them to take advantage of your offer before it expires.
Another opportunity to reconnect with your customers is to send a Year-Over-Year Travel Reminder to those who booked with you in the past and haven’t returned to your site since. The reminder should be personalized to include travel opportunities, rate discounts, and services based on your customers’ browsing and booking history.
Hotels can benefit greatly from using behavioral personalization in their email marketing campaigns. By implementing these four key strategies, 2019 will be the year you not only win over more customers, but keep them loyal for the long term.
As CEO of SmarterHQ, Michael Osborne provides leadership and focus on building their innovation, growth, and success. SmarterHQ makes it easy for marketers to increase revenue now and customer relationships over time by powering highly personalized, cross-channel experiences. They work with leading brands such as Hilton, Omni Hotels, and CarRentals.com, and have been recognized by Forrester’s Total Economic Impact study to deliver 667% in ROI.