Personalization has hit the hotel industry hard over the last few years. With personalized content now the norm in retail ecommerce, hotel marketers have seen a growing need for customization and personalization on the digital front in order to meet guest expectations.
The problem that many hoteliers are finding is that since there are so many different ways to personalize a guest experience, they give up on the concept altogether knowing their team or budget wouldn’t be able to handle the intense overhaul that an in-depth personalization strategy would require. One study suggests that this is the case across many industries and lists these top issues as reasons why marketers have yet to implement a real time personalization strategy Lack of resources (43%), time to implement (39%), and absence of knowledge or skill set (30%) (DMNews). This problem originates as many articles and speakers, though they may have great content, propose strategies are many times only applicable for a brand or large chain.
In addition, many of these personalization techniques are really aimed at gaining a brand loyalty that could only be managed by a chain- like custom thermostat or guest room preference information. At the end of the day, independent hotels are trying to focus on one thing- increasing bookings, especially during their low seasons. And while creating a personalization strategy for repeat guests is important, an independent hotel must first personalize the experience for new guests to create loyal customers.
So how do you personalize the experience for a guest you have yet to meet? Data.
Creatively and innovatively using visitor data can give marketers the advantage to make a connection with guests before they even book. In fact, some of the most valuable visitor data can be tracked from the very first visit to the website. For example, visitor referring source is an important piece of data that can not only tell marketers what brought visitors to the site, but what they’re looking for when they hit the home page. An independent property tested this strategy by only focusing campaigns on visitors hitting the site from a review website and saw a 500% increase in direct bookings for that segment of website visitors.
Another valuable piece of data is the visit history. Marketers should evaluate the average number of times guests are visiting the site before booking to learn about their guests and ensure they’re seeing the most effective piece of content on the visit that means the most. One hotel that used this strategy was able to see a 5x ROI and an increase in customer engagement on the website.
The key to success in both of these strategies is understanding both the target clientele and then evaluating how they’re behaving on the website. Once marketers are able to break traffic into relevant segments, it’s much easier to determine the messaging, campaigns, or content that visitors will be most interested in seeing when they hit the website. These strategies can be seen used across many industries, in fact, 76% of marketers define real-time marketing as personalizing content in response to customer interactions (DMNews).
In an ideal world, every hotel would have a large team and an unlimited marketing budget so that each guest could have a totally personalized and custom experience. But until that happens, using targeted and intentional messaging based on a deep understanding of website traffic can give hotel marketers the personal edge they’re looking for.