5 rules for handling guest email addresses

5 rules for handling guest email addresses

Hoteliers often complain about not getting enough feedback from TripAdvisor, Google, etc., difficulties with building customer loyalty, and failing to integrate digital tools into their customer service.

I ask them all the same question: what percentage of your customers have a valid email address entered in your PMS?

Communicate with your customers

Whether you are asking a customer to write a comment on TripAdvisor, suggesting a Valentine’s Day getaway at the hotel, or simply wishing them a happy birthday, you will fall at the first hurdle if you do not have your customer’s email address.

In 2018, independent hoteliers in France had a valid email address in their PMS for just 16.6% of people who stayed in their hotel.

Collect contact information

If you don’t already have a procedure in place to retrieve 100% of your customers’ email addresses, stop reading this article and get on with it. Every guest leaving your hotel without a saved email address represents a significant loss of turnover for your company.

Today, there are a wide variety of tools on the market to support you throughout this process. From pre/mid/post-stay surveys to online check-in/check-out tools, and from Wi-Fi login systems to registration form applications, there are dozens of tools at your fingertips. All you have to do is choose the solution(s) that best suit the needs of your establishments.

Your customers’ email addresses will be collected automatically, and you can get on with the rest of your strategy.

Segment your email list

After you have collected your customers’ email addresses, what comes next? It’s time to segment your email list. However, the classic tourism/business segmentation model is too limited to be of much use in 2020.

Here’s my bare minimum:

  • Age
  • Type of traveller (solo, couple, etc.)
  • Reason for travel (tourism, business, etc.)
  • Date of stay
  • Type of room reserved
  • Nationality
  • Postcode
  • Satisfaction level
  • Regular customer/New customer
  • Source of the reservation (OTA, direct, etc.)
  • Frequency of travel in your region

And if this seems like a tall order, there are also many tools on the market to help you develop and implement a segmentation system.

For example, you should always use the check-in process to retrieve your customers’ dates of birth. This will give you their age and birthday, which can help you to communicate appropriately with customers when asking them to talk about you on social media.

Automate this process

No matter what tools you choose, automation should always be your priority. Adopting generic tools that do not work together will make the task so time-consuming that you’ll soon want to give up.

Instead, you should choose a PMS with great interconnectivity options and a hotel CRM that can be linked to your system. You can also adopt mailing solutions specialising in tourism, etc.

Don’t just choose the cheapest options to try to save money: it will cost you a lot more in the medium/long term. Hoteliers used to waste a great deal of time and money in this area, but now all you have to do is connect the right software together.

Here are some examples of events you should automate to maintain a relationship with your customers:

  • Birthdays, wedding anniversaries;
  • National holidays in your customer’s country;
  • Mother’s Day/Father’s Day;
  • Holiday periods;
  • One year/three years since their last stay;
  • Change of status in your loyalty programme;
  • Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, etc. ;
  • Black Friday, summer sales, etc. ;

Is it legal?

Many hotels still believe that they are not allowed to communicate by email with their guests because of the GDPR, but this is actually not true:

As for email marketing, the GDPR does not ban email marketing by any means.

The GDPR did not set out to be anti-business, just pro-consumer. […] What the GDPR does is clarify the terms of consent […] Only if a marketing email does not present the option to unsubscribe, is sent to someone who never signed up for it, or does not advertise a service related to one the receiver uses is it violating the GDPR.

So you have every right to communicate with your former and current customers.

Conclusion

The law, the tools on the market, and the automation options are all finally aligned. You have everything you need to collect your customers’ email addresses and communicate effectively.

The five rules are as follows:

  • Collect your customers’ email addresses;
  • Use digital tools;
  • Segment your customer base;
  • Automate your communications before, during and after each stay;
  • Respect the law and the GDPR.

About the author

Tony Loeb, Co-founder & VP Sales/Marketing of the Hotel CRM and Email Marketing solution, Experience Hotel

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