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Hoteliers: It’s not about you.
Is your marketing all about you? About how beautiful are your rooms, how delicious is the restaurant’s menu, how soothing are the spa services? All this may be true, but let’s be realistic: Your potential guests are hearing the same thing from every hotel.
There definitely is room for differentiation among hotel properties, and travel searchers yearn for it. Leisure and business travelers alike are usually undecided when they begin the online research process. Sixty five percent of vacationers and sixty percent of road warriors are considering multiple hotel brands when they begin planning. While most business travelers have a handle on the differences between hotel brands, sixty five percent of leisure travelers are unclear on hotel differentiation.
Nevertheless, in a world where every hotel marketing campaign tells the same story, rising above the chorus takes a new strategy. We call it becoming guest-centric. It’s a turnabout in approach: Instead of trying to get customers to buy what the company has, customer-centric companies create products and services that customers want.
Revinate recently hosted a webinar on guest-centric hotel marketing:
Bob Thompson, author of Hooked on Customers, writes that there are four stages companies go through on the way to becoming truly customer-centric:
1. CRM: a focus on extracting more value from existing customers
2. Responsive: actively working to gather and respond to customer feedback about products and services
3. Engaged: focused on maintaining long-term relationships by providing delightful experiences
4. Inspired: A deep understanding of customers’ needs, wants and desires drives the creation of products and services
To keep up with the expectations of the modern traveler, hoteliers need a better approach to collecting and analyzing information on their guests. Then, they need to use that information to deliver inspired marketing campaigns that are targeted and relevant to the wants and needs of today’s hotel guests.
The switch from all-about-me to guest-centric requires a hotel to overturn the way it approaches the very concept of marketing. Ranjay Gulati, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, says, “Becoming customer-centric means looking at an enterprise from the outside-in rather than the inside-out — that is, through the lens of the customer rather than the producer. It’s about understanding what problems customers face in their lives and then providing mutually advantageous solutions.”
Instead of looking at guests from your point of view, step into their shoes. The guest-centric approach is enabled by two things: rich data on guests’ preferences and behavior; plus the ability to create smart segments that go beyond basic demographics.
Does being guest-centric mean that your property should try to be all things to all people? Not at all. The trick is delivering on what you do best in new ways that satisfy your guests’ explicit and implicit desires – maybe before they’re even aware of them.
All-about-me versus guest-centric thinking
Here are two hypothetical examples:
1. A boutique resort in California’s wine country with an excellent event space actively promotes its facilities for weddings, including, of course, catering, private dinners and spa services. The event facility is booked solid during peak times, but there’s a lull in spa services during the summer months. During this time, the resort displays ads promoting the spa with little lift in bookings, a prime example of an unsuccessful all-about-me marketing campaign.
But, in a much more guest-centric approach, the resort cleverly sends emails to the female members of a wedding party six months after the wedding, offering a special Wedding Party Redux that includes free cocktails, adjacent rooms and discounts on spa packages. Ten percent of recipients book the package, while another 15 percent make another booking within a year.
2. A business-friendly hotel in a major destination serves business travelers with a relentless focus on the amenities that business travelers typically like: same-day laundry and dry cleaning, super-fast free wifi and a solid breakfast. But, an analysis of its guest profiles shows that an increasing number of business travelers are bringing spouses and even children.
So, when the hotel begins to approach their marketing in a guest-centric way, its concierge services puts together a family package that includes discounts on day-time tours, free yoga classes and even nanny services. By promoting these packages to specific frequent guests, it increases loyalty and repeat bookings while increasing revenue for ancillary services.
Making the switch to Guest-Centric Marketing
Understanding the customer journey of hotel guests allows hoteliers to take their own journeys from all-about-me marketing to the delivery of new value for guests. New, forward-thinking analytics tools such as those offered within inGuest by Revinate provide hoteliers with insights into what guests love – and into the other sentiments they have about the services they’ve received. The inGuest platform brings together social data, PMS data, POS data and customer feedback, among other data types, to build rich guest profiles that can be analyzed to create new services that surprise and delight guests.
At a time when guest-centric thinking has become critical for differentiating hotel brands, hoteliers need solid information about guest preferences and behavior in order to deliver customer-centric marketing. By transforming not only their marketing efforts but their entire businesses in this way, hoteliers can deliver the value that today’s empowered guests crave.
To learn more about creating a guest-centric travel brand, watch Revinate’s webinar about the evolution of hotel marketing.
This content is created collaboratively in partnership with our sponsor, Revinate.