E-mail marketing? Yes, please!

Sending a newsletter to contact list - E-mail marketing conceptNowadays, getting in touch with consumers can be done throughout multiple channels and in different arenas, however, the focus of this post is on the effectiveness of e-mails in the hotel industry. As one understands, at this stage, the interaction between the hotel and the customers takes place in the digital arena.

As stated in the book written by (Peelen & Beltman, 2013), when it comes to e-mails, the focus needs to be on efficient and effective dialogue between the two parts. Moreover, when looking at the financial situation, the advantage of outbound e-mails is that there are low-production costs and virtually there are no shipping costs. The authors also mention that the marketers have the potential to tailor the e-mail according to the preferences of the consumer which ultimately will lead to a direct response.

According to (Trivago, 2017), e-mail marketing is supposed to deliver the highest ROI, no matter the industry. The process offers the marketers a remarkable method to extend the brand’s name and to personalise the guests’ experiences. The most important thing which needs to be paid attention to is that an effective hotel email marketing starts right after the consumer has booked and the relationship needs to last after the consumers have checked out (Trivago, 2017). What is important to highlight is that the “period between when guests book and when they arrive is critical for their overall experience” (Trivago, 2017). That is why hotels should send out “welcoming emails” with general information about the hotel, but also with information about the city and the area the hotel is situated in. A hotel which follows this example is Harvey’s Point in Ireland. As stated by Deirdre McGlone, the owner of the hotel, the pre-arrival e-mails give the perfect opportunity to find out valuable information with regards to dinner reservations or the arrival times of guests (Trivago, 2017).

Personalisation is another important factor which needs to be taken into consideration when a hotel sends out emails. According to (Myers, 2017), personalisation provides a better connection between the hotel and the customer, reduces the fear (especially when it comes to spam emails), provides trust and shows effort. The same fact is mentioned in the article written by (Del Rowe, 2016); the author explains that the marketers “need to understand the customers’ past behaviour and use that knowledge to speak to them in a relevant fashion”. For example, Best Western started using the geo-targeting method in order to send consumers specific and relevant data based on their locations. By choosing to use this method, they immediately noticed a 10% increase in email click-through rates by the non-rewards members (Gilliland, 2017).

All in all, the email marketing strategy should not be easily dismissed as it helps any kind of industry to build up their relations with the past, current or future customers.

Bibliography

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Harlow: Pearson Education

3 Reasons Why Email Marketing is Essential for Your Hotel. (2017, January 4). Retrieved from Trivago: http://hotelmanager-blog.trivago.com/3-benefits-of-hotel-email-marketing/

Del Rowe, S. (2016, September). E-Mail Marketing Best Practices. CRM Magazine, pp. 26-29.

Gilliland, N. (2017, July 7). How six travel & hospitality brands use personalisation to enhance the customer experience. Retrieved from Econsultancy: https://econsultancy.com/blog/69207-how-six-travel-hospitality-brands-use-personalisation-to-enhance-the-customer-experience

Interview with Award-Winning Hotelier and Owner of Harvey’s Point, Deirdre McGlone. (2016, November 28). Retrieved from Trivago: http://hotelmanager-blog.trivago.com/3-benefits-of-hotel-email-marketing/

Myers, K. (2017). 5 Reasons Why Personalizing An Email Is Important. Retrieved from Online Income Teacher: http://onlineincometeacher.com/business-tips/5-reasons-why-personalizing-an-email-is-important/

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Online aftersales in the hotel industry

 

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A marketer knows how important the after-sales are after the actual transaction. It counts both for products and services. And therefor as well in the hotel industry which offers products and services. The online world, what we used to call ‘The Word Wide Web’ is changing rapidly. It started as a passive ‘read-only’ medium whereby the internet wasn’t used for commercial purposes. The technological developments made an end to the passive use and the increasing accessibility & opportunities made it possible to down- and upload all kinds of media. The internet became more graphical and the importance of online commercial purposes increased rapidly. The developments in the technology keep on going and the possibilities to share and create contents increase, also due to platforms for social media and social media accounts, like Facebook and Twitter, of big commercial companies, such as KLM, Coolblue or hotel chains. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

It is much more expensive to engage with new customers rather than maintain your existing customers. The social media is a great solution to keep these customers close. The current social network could be associated with many different ‘online segments’ such as social tagging, blogs, podcasts wiki’s and communities. The are many ways to use the online world in marketing and customer engagement, especially in the after-sales phase in the hotel industry. The most important things are remain involved with your customers. You should show your customers that you care about them. However, there is a very thin line whether maintain contact is considered as actual care for the customers or spam like almost daily emails. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

For hotels there are many ways to maintain the loyalty of the existing customers online. Customers feel taken seriously when they give valuable feedback. For hotels it is important to receive feedback from its customers so that it can improve its services. The feedback could be collected in various ways. A platform on the website of the hotel is an example next to the known review websites like Tripadvisor.com. Besides that, hotels could give a special discount to the loyal customers who give feedback to the hotels. Next to the feedback that could be given, interesting content related to the guests is of relevance is well. Give your customers a valid reason to return to your website. This could be an upgrade, news item of improvement of the hotel, but also something more related to the customers itself rather then the hotel. It should be relevant enough for your customers instead of annoying. (Berger, 2016)

The are many ways to maintain your customers’ loyalty online without expensive or complicated action that need to be undertaken. According to Berger (2016), The probability of more interested customers in your hotel (or other business) will be greater if they have the feeling that the business is interested in them.

Sources:

Berger, I. (2016, August 1). Klantloyaliteit verhogen met after-sales content marketing doe je zó! Retrieved October 6, 2017, from Traffic Builders – Digital Marketing Intelligence: https://www.traffic-builders.com/klantloyaliteit-verhogen-met-after-sales-contentmarketing/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd Edition ed.). Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education.

 

Increase Profits through Multichannel Management

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Nowadays, we are confronted by various ways of communicating with a certain company. Most of them are digital and can be identified as customer contact moments of the digital arena. With increasing competition hotel companies have to develop a better marketing and promotion system in order to better communicate with potential customers. Customer contact moments, the so-called touchpoints, are constantly changing. Accordingly, gearing multichannel management towards powerful channels creates the most excellent option for increasing the company’s profitability. (Peelen and Beltman, 2013).

As I described in my previous blog, we are living in a digitalized and connected modern world, therefore, multichannel management has become more importance as customers can better be reached. One aspect of its benefits presents online recognition of a hotel brand. Just think about your favourite hotel brand such as Hilton. In today’s interconnected world of communication, hotel or other brands are available everywhere in the social network (Instagram, Facebook etc). Most of the brands make it easier for their customer to access everywhere. Consequently, multichannel management gives hotel companies the possibility to achieve this recognition and implement an easier selling of the brand itself as well as ensure 24/7 accessibility. With the aid of multichannel management, customers can easily engage with the hotel brand. It will further boost the brand’s identity and throughout the channels the hotel is able to deliver certain promises (Blueskyto.com, 2016).

For that reason, hotel company must match their always changing customers and make the brand accessible everywhere, for example with the aid of online distribution channels. According to J. Duran (2017), hotels should focus on online websites, global distribution systems and online travel agents in order to remain competitive. First, hotel brands such as Hilton and Marriott International have been investing into online sources since years. Online websites are essential for a hotel company as it is the presentation of the company and every customer’s first impression before the actual booking. Furthermore, a cooperation with online travel agents is as well essential in order to fill certain days with a booking. Outstanding online travel agents are Priceline Group including Booking.com, Expedia which own not only Expedia.com but as well Orbitz.com, Trivago.com and Hotels.com, Fareportal and TripAdvisor. Online travel agents respond to online reviews in order to boost customer feedbacks, provide detailed hotel description and further information of the company. Moreover, they work close together with the hotel manager in order to understand recent trends and then create optimally strategy for the company. Last, global distribution system can be identified as the preferred reservation tool for any travel service when making an online booking. It provides pricing, availability and reservation. The online service connects hotel, airlines and other travel services worldwide together in one system and is 24/7 online available.  

As already mentioned in my previous blog post about “Profiling your Ideal Customer”, it is fundamental for a hotel company to know and understand your customer in order to attract them to the property. To assure this, hotel managers have to understand the digital arena and develop an effective pricing strategy in order to increase the sales. Multichannel management maximise the profitability of the company and accordingly benefit from the digital arena.

Sources: 

BlueSkyto.com. (2016). 3 benefits of an Effective Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign. Retrieved at October 6, 2017 from: https://www.blueskyeto.com/multi-channel-marketing-benefits/

Hospitalitynet.org. (2017). Understanding Online Distribution Channels. Retrieved at October 6, 2017 from: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4070896.html/

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

 

Enterprise Relationship Centres – Why Every Hotel Should Have One!

In the past it was not uncommon that businesses have call centres separated from the business or even outsourced, while social media and the online arena in general was handled fully by the marketing department (Customer Talk, 2010). However, with the growing complexity of channels available to the customer to interact with a business there is a growing need to combine channel management in one place – The Enterprise Relationship Centre (ERC).

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Figure 16.1 – Possible Contacts (Huijnen, 1997 as cited in Peelen & Beltman,2013, p. 328)

Annemieke van Moorst (as cited by Customer Talk, 2010) claims that a contact centre should rather be called an enterprise relationship centre (ERC). This is due to the complexity of tasks handled within such a centre. The image above shows the complexity of tasks handled within an ERC. Combining all these in one place allows a business to monitor and manage all customer interactions, through all different channels in one entity.

As a result of combining all channels in one spot, a hotel gets the whole picture of its relationship with their guests. When the guests now contact the ERC, the respondent will immediately have the entire client and relationship data available, and has the possibility to produce offers with added value (Kakes, 2009) (Granby Marketing Services, 2016). Moreover, the ERC functions as a one-stop-shop. Firstly due to the fact that all interactions through all channels are registered in one spot and secondly the centres ability to avoid call forwarding and delight the customers with being updated on their past history.

However, as a hotel commonly has differing customer segments such as business travellers, leisure travellers or larger groups, it has been suggested that, (if feasible, depending on the size of the hotel/chain) these varying segments shall have their own account manager. This also has the advantage that the account manager can offer a differentiated service (Kakes, 2009). For instance, highlighting particularly the meeting facilities of the hotel and their capacity and catering options to the business traveller instead of the special family rates and possibility to get an extra bed for children.

The challenge nowadays is, that the contact channels are changing rapidly (Leggett, 2013), (Chami, 2016). While the telephone used to be the almost exclusive way of communicating with a business, the technological development has created new ways of communication, particularly online. The digital arena and social media in particularly is gaining popularity among customers as they can voice their request at any time (Chami, 2016). Due to the change in channels it is important that the account managers are equipped with the necessary skills as well as the right IT programs (Kakes, 2009) (Chami, 2016).

As the Hotel industry is a service industry a well working enterprise relationship centre can help ensuring that the service quality doesn’t stop at the doorstep of your hotel. Through such a centre, best service to built long lasting relationships with your guests can be granted through all communication channels.

Sources:

Chami, L. (2016). Making the change from call center to contact center. Retrieved October 9, 2017 from https://www.eptica.com/blog/making-change-call-center-contact-center

Customer Talk. (2010). “Vaak is er geen strategioe voor klantcontact en crosschannelcommunicatie”. Retrieved Oktober 5, 2017 from https://www.customertalk.nl/artikelen/consultant-talk/vaak-is-er-geen-strategie-voor-klantcontact-en-crosschannelcommunicatie/

Granby Marketing Services. (2016). Adding value through your contact centre. Retrieved October 9, 2017 from https://www.granbymarketing.com/adding-value-through-your-contact-centre/

Kakes, J. (2009). Meer integratie en meer functionele toenadering”. Analyse WFM-software contact centers. Retrieved October 5, 2017 from https://www.klantgemak.nl/site/759B55CFD689635FC125760000448D79/$FILE/TOTE-M%20-%20Meer%20integratie%20en%20meer%20functionele%20toenadering.pdf

Leggett, K. (2013). Communication Channel Preferences For Customer Service Are Rapidly Changing. Do You Know What Your Customers Need?. Retrieved October 5, 2017 from https://go.forrester.com/blogs/13-03-15-communication_channel_preferences_for_customer_service_are_rapidly_changing_do_you_know_what_your_cus/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Boston : Pearson, 2013.

Your Customer changed so you need too: Relevance of Customer Profiling in the Hotel Industry

avatar-2155431_960_720Globalisation has speeded up dramatically in the last two decades as technological advances make it easier for people to travel, communicate, and do business internationally. Two major recent driving forces are advances in telecommunications infrastructure and the rise of the internet. As economies become more connected, competition as well as opportunities has increased during recent years. By takin advantages of those opportunities and increase competitive advantage hotel companies should know their ever changing and international visitors. As it is unfeasible to target each customer individually, profiling has been identified as a useful and cost-efficient tool. This can be particularly described due to the fact that data are retrieved through online platforms sources which have been increasing related to globalisation. By having a closer look at hotel company’s competitive environment, this blog briefly explains customer profiling and its benefits within the competitive environment of the hotel industry.

Nowadays, there are a few ways to promote a hotel company. Everyone knows that first of all a company needs to create a marketing strategy in order to have a successful business. Before a company decides how to market, the most important step is to get to know potential customers. According to Peelen & Beltman (2013), companies use customer profiling as a marketing tool in order to understand their customers and make better business decisions. With the aid of this business strategy companies can identify customers profiles and further group similar profiles for example into demographic or geographic distinctions (Thebalance.com, 2017).

According to Tourism eSchool (2017), the whole process of profiling your customer starts with the company’s understanding who their customers actually are: Do we currently attract the people we want? What does a desirable customer look like? Especially for innovative hotels such as W or citizenM those information sources are essential in order to be updated in the competitive environment. 

Once a hotel company has completed customer profiling they will have a clear picture of the type of customers staying or visiting the hotel. By creating a marketing strategy with these desirable customers in mind it will help the business to cooperate successfully and without any time or resource waste. With the aid of a better and constant marketing communication the hotel company is able to better reach new customers and remain a successful business.

 

Sources: 

The balance (2017). Consumer Profile: Defining the Ideal Customer. Retrieved at September 30,2017 from: https://www.thebalance.com/consumer-profile-defining-the-ideal-customer-2296932/

Tourism eSchool (2017). Ideal Customer Profiling: The Process of Identifying your Most Profitable Prospects. Retrieved at September 30, 2017 from: https://tourismeschool.com/ideal-customer-profile-persona/

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

 

 

 

Cookies, their small database of you, on your computer

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We could say that all company are collecting data. Data is one of the essentials for companies. If a company knows its customers’ wants and needs, they can respond to that in terms of marketing purposes which could lead to more profit. The most known data is names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses, but there is much more than that. Communication channel preferences, transaction and communication history, and satisfaction of customers are all examples of relevant information about customers which are of importance to the companies. A valuable tool for companies is cookies(Big Commerce, n.d.).

A lot of people accept the cookies without even knowing what they are. When entering a website in the Netherlands, it must ask you to accept its cookies. Cookies are small text files stored in the web user’s browsing history, placed by the websites of companies. They are created to hold specific data of a website and its customers. Cookies enable a web server to customize the website automatically to customers’ preferences and search history(Big Commerce, n.d.).

Cookies are an easy way for a website to carry information about the user’s previous sessions on that website. The cookies are most of the time stored under a certain user name of the user. This user name will link all of the information to the user such as; a password, preferred page lay-out and other preferences. A new user may see the regular landing page and a returning user could see a completely different pages which is based on the cookies of the user. This is part of the customer experience. Without cookies, webpages would be less useful and not interactive. Cookies make it possible to remember its users. A lot of Dutch commercial websites explain why they use cookies(What are cookies, n.d.).

Since the companies are collecting a lot of data, it’s becoming important to formulate a vision on the topic of data. According to Peelen & Beltman (2013) ‘Consumers, the competition, legislation and the value of data as a resource can be taken into consideration. A vision like this could be translated into a marketing concept which leads to the formulation of “permission marketing”.  In this way, the user is asked for permission to focus on commercial messages so that a company can customise their offers to the user.’ An example of a company that explains why they use cookies in the hotel industry is the Van Der Valk hotel chain.

The Van Der Valk hotel chain explains why they use certain types of cookies. One of their cookies are used to show the user advertisements on other websites. The usage of these ‘Commercial cookies’ is called retargeting. It is based on the destinations and properties that the user has been searching for on the website of Van Der Valk. There are many hotels and accommodation suppliers that use the cookies to customize the advertisements online. It is an effective way of marketing which is enabled by the cookies(Van Der Valk Hotel Eindhoven, n.d.).

Sources:

Big Commerce. (n.d.). What is a cookie and why is it important? Retrieved October 2, 2017, from Big Commerce: https://www.bigcommerce.com/ecommerce-answers/what-cookie-and-why-it-important/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education.

Van Der Valk Hotel Eindhoven. (2017). Cookies. Retrieved October 2, 2017, from Hotel Eindhoven: https://www.hoteleindhoven.nl/en/cookies

What are cookies. (n.d.). Computer Cookies Explained. Retrieved October 2, 2017, from What are Cookies?: http://www.whatarecookies.com

 

 

Knowledge Is Power – Knowing Your Customer Is Money !

The importance of connecting customer Data

The widely accepted saying by Francis Bacon “knowledge is power” (1597) can also be translated to the hotel industry. Knowledge of your customers will ensure your ability to satisfy your guests’ needs and wishes even beyond their expectations which eventually translates into Money! To gain customer knowledge one has to gather data.

Thanks to the development in technology, customer data can now cost-efficient and easily be collected through numerous channels, particularly online. Commonly, customers will provide their data through their mobile devices (BBVA, 2015). While data is the fundament of all customer knowledge its sheer collection is not going to bring you any success; it needs to be stored and used in the right way. To make data usable, the quality of the data  has to be ensured and it must be organised in such a way that during each customer contact the respective person has all (for him/her) relevant data available (Peelen & Beltman , 2013). Hence Customer data integration should be aimed for.

Data can be accumulated and organised in one central database (including all available data from all different channels) and then be divided into sub databases to match the needs of different departments within the hotel. While your receptionists will want a selected set of customer information that helps indentifying the guest and see his/her familiarity with the hotel’s facilities; the marketing department, on the other hand, will need a 360 degree view of the client including more detailed information about transaction and interaction data to develop successful marketing plans.

Moreover, all systems have to be interconnected to avoid incorrect information. This means that similar information has to labelled equally throughout all databases to ensure easy synchronisation (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). As a result the receptionist’s correction of the family-name from Johnson to Jonson will immediately be available for the other departments and errors that could upset customers reduced. This will not be possible if the family name is referred to as last name or surname in other databases.

Particularly within a hotel it is inevitable to have a well working system to integrate customer data. As mentioned in the blog “The successful creation of a  close relationship with customers in the hotel business” a strong relationship between a business and customers is facilitates by recognizing the customer themselves and additional preferences. For instance, the system could inform the housekeeping staff that the guest that is about to arrive for the room prefers the windows to be opened as he had mentioned during his last visit. Additionally the information maybe shared with through the system with the receptionist who can during the check-in process already mention this adaptation to his needs to delight the arriving customer.

Overall, connecting your customers’ data will ensure you can exceed the needs and wishes of your customers without them repeating them to you. The collected data through the various channels provide insights in the wishes of your guests and can provide hints on how communication with the customer is handled best. The key to your success is to use the data to generate knowledge that will give you the power to outperform your competitors through bonding your guests as they feel not only welcomed, but also recognized and understood.

Sources: 

Bacon, F. (1597). As cited in Knowledge is power quotation by Monticello  (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017 from  https://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/knowledge-power-quotation

BBVA. (2015). The impact of web analytics on tourism: Big Data in the hotel industry. Retrieved September 28, 2017 from https://www.bbva.com/en/impact-web-analytics-tourism-big-data-hotel-industry/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Boston : Pearson, 2013.