The importance of data for cross-selling in the hospitality industry

According to Peelen and Beltman (2013), cross-selling is the sales of a product or service to current customers who are already purchasing one or more products from a particular company. Different forms of cross-selling are identified, such as when customers buy one or more products during a contact, when customers buy a second or third product during a later contact, when customers buy another product within the same product range, or when customers expand the product they already bought by buying a product from another category. In the hospitality industry, cross-selling occurs when hotels sell their guests in-house services and products for example.

However, hotels are not very successful yet in cross-selling their guests services and products. According to research done by Travel Tripper, only 3% of the hotel guests book add-ons during their online booking process. On top of that, when customers are presented with too many options on products and services they can additionally book beside their hotel room, they might even abandon their entire booking (Lee, 2015). It seems that hotels still have a lot they can gain from cross-selling. So how can hotels successfully cross-sell their products and services to their customers?

The key to a successful cross-selling strategy for hotels is being there at the right place and at the right time for their guests. First, when looking at timing for cross-selling, customers are most receptive for cross-selling when they are in the phase of ‘pre-trip buzz’. When approaching customers during this phase, it is more likely that they purchase additional services or products from the hotel. Approaching customers can be done by sending them an email with offers (Lee, 2015).

However, the perfect timing will not immediately make cross-selling very successful for hotels. On top of that, it is vital for hotels that they appeal to their customers’ appeal to buy. This can only be done with offers that really speak to the customer; the offers need to compliment their original purchase and the offers need to fit the customer’s individual preferences. In order for hotels to be able to offer their customers personal offers, they need to know their customers. Hotels can only get to know their customers if they use data. Data will help hotels to get an insight into what their customers want (Subramanian, 2013).

So when hotels want to cross-sell products or services to their customers, it is crucial that their offers are well-timed and personalized. It is impossible for hotels to do this without analysing and using data.

 

Bibliography

Lee, J. (2015, August 10). Upselling & Cross-selling: The difference and why it matters. Retrieved October 02, 2016, from http://www.traveltripper.com/blog/upselling-and-cross-selling-the-difference-and-why-it-matters-for-hotels/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd edition).

Subramanian, R. (2013, March 8). Tips for Using Big Data to Optimize Upsell and Cross-Sell Strategies. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from http://www.mytotalretail.com/article/big-data-can-grow-your-retail-business-upsell-cross-sell-strategies/all/

How Marriott uses virtual reality to engage their customers in their online brand community

Virtual reality makes it possible for people to explore computer generated virtual environments and to also interact in those environments by only using a headset. The virtual reality technology artificially creates sensory experiences, which make it seem that as if that person is really present in that environment (Virtual Reality Society, 2016). Virtual reality technology’s popularity is expanding and its potential for marketing is also getting recognized increasingly. Since the travel industry is all about selling experiences, virtual reality can be particularly influential.

Even though it is very likely that virtual reality headsets will be as essential to people in the future as smartphones are now, businesses are still struggling on how to use virtual reality to their advantage in their marketing. When looking at how brands in the travel industry implement virtual reality in their marketing strategies, one hotel brand in particular stands out.

In collaboration with Samsung Gear VR, Marriott has launched several virtual reality initiatives. Their Teleporter program in 2014 was a pilot where they used virtual reality so that people could experience their hotels in Hawaii and London. After that, they launched the VR Postcards. VR Postcards followed travellers on trips to for example Chile, Rwanda, and China, and enables guests to experience those destinations for themselves through a headset. These virtual reality programs can be found on Marriott’s Travel Brilliantly website. This website is an online brand community and co-creation platform where Marriott’s guests can share their ideas that help Marriott to create new experiences (Marriott News Center, 2015).

As Peelen and Beltman (2013) argue, it is very important for brands to provide interesting and engaging content and media that people will connect with and engage in on the social web. Virtual brand communities are a very suitable platform for this; customers can co-construct their own experience, find information, actively debate ideas, provide solutions, and contribute their opinions on these communities (Martínez-López et al., 2016). This is exactly what Marriott does cleverly with their Travel Brilliantly brand community and their virtual reality programs. They make the ‘Marriott experience’ more individual and also easier accessible. Through virtual reality, people will get a better idea about what their holiday experience will be like. These people then share their own personal stories on the Travel Brilliantly platform.

Marriott’s Travel Brilliantly and virtual reality initiatives give Marriott’s customers the opportunity to experience a holiday through virtual reality and to create content with their own perspective to branding experiences. This integration of brand experience and marketing content on their online brand community can be an example for many businesses on how to use virtual reality in the future to engage their customers.

 

Bibliography

EMarketer. (2015, December 31). Marriott’s Virtual Reality Transports Guests ‘Around the World’. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Marriotts-Virtual-Reality-Transports-Guests-Around-World/1013409

Marriott News Center. (2015, September 9). Marriott Hotels Introduces The First Ever In-Room Virtual Reality Travel Experience. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from http://news.marriott.com/2015/09/marriott-hotels-introduces-the-first-ever-in-room-virtual-reality-travel-experience/

Martínez-López, F. J., Anaya-Sánchez, R., Aguilar-Illescas, R., & Molinillo, S. (2016). Value Creation in Virtual Brand Communities. In Online Brand Communities (pp. 189-205). Springer International Publishing

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd edition).

Virtual Reality Society. (2016). What is Virtual Reality? Retrieved October 9, 2016, from http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/what-is-virtual-reality.html

 

Is Multi Channel Strategy beneficial for the hotel industry?

Yes Multi channel strategy is beneficial for the hotel industry. Channels over the years always had the power to transform markets and even economies. Especially with new and improved technology hotels can reach more people through new channels and new groups of people. Channels also provide consumers access to hotels and they can significantly affect the revenues and cost structure of an organisation. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

Even though we live in a time where technology is everything and new inventions are around the corner every week, not all the channels have to be online because of this. Experts confirmed once that tv and print advertising is not as useful to use for promotion. Hwever in 2012 experts proved that both traditional and new advertising methods are very popular among consumers. Marketing and advertising experts looked at what the most effective marketing strategy would be and which would provide the most value for a company, out of this research they concluded that Multi channelled strategy and build brand awareness would be the most beneficial to use for promotion and make a name of your company. (Freed, 2013)

According to a study Nothofer and Remy using both traditional and electronic channels is very popular among the hotel industry. Besides this they have their own websites and are using online tour operators and travel agencies. However there could be risks in using a Multi channel strategy. When the Multi channel system is poorly coordinated the use of it would not be beneficial for the company. Customers do not like to read different information through different channels. All channels should be linked to each other and provide the same information. Using marketing specialist who are specialised in multi channel strategy can cover this. (Nothofer & Remy, n.d.)

Multi channel stragey is also directly linked to customer experience. Customer experience is a very important aspect for a hotel because if a hotel improves their customer experience is the same as improving their revenue and profit potential. Resolving a complaint of a customer can prevent many extra costs. This is because the question is dealed with immediately, this way customers feel like they received good service. A good use of different channels can create the same foals. Consumers can ask their questions through a website. If the hotel is being smart with the multi channel strategy it has an application where it allows the contact centre to see which page the questions originates from. Through this they can get insight into the click stream of the web visitors and help them through the process. The customers will feel special and will believe that the organisation did everything they could to provide good service, however the hotel knows it is for both sides in the best interest. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

 

Bibliography 

Freed, B. &. (2013, March 7). HNN – Multichannel marketing strategies prove best. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/18425/Multichannel-marketing-strategies-prove-best
Nothofer, K., & Remy, D. (n.d.). THE ROLE OF MULTI-CHANNEL-MANAGEMENT IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY. Retrieved October 5, 2016, from http://www.shannoncollege.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/THRIC-Paper-Nothofer-N-Remy-D.-Les-Roches.pdf

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management. Pearson Education Limited.

Web care 2.0 for the hotel industry: engage in the online conversation.

The time that an organisation was the main influencer of a conversation and that conversations were mainly between organisation and consumer are over. Now-a-days consumers have easy access to sharing information creating conversations between customers as well. Therefor one of the basic aspects of a conversation has become more important for organisations namely; listening. Why listening is so important and different approaches can be found in the blog ‘Social listening is the first step of digital arena success for the hotel industy’ by Noortje Matos Fernandes.

Fortunately, technique is developing rapidly and several tools have been developed that make listening easier (think of Hootsuite). These tools tell you what is being said and where the conversation is taking place. Leaving more time open for organisations to engage in the conversation.

However, there are some attention point when it comes to engaging in the conversation.

  1. Be transparent: Indicate who you are (use real names, even the name of the web care agent), inform relevantly without pushing, provide clear information or feedback. It is an activity that influences the general reputation and trust, but can also be aimed at helping individual customers (often when they fail to get through by using more traditional channels) (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
  2. Be authentic and honest: Staying true to the brand values will create a consistency and contributes to the trustworthiness. Being honest is a part of this and also creates more transparency.
  3. React on time: Griffith wrote “A study by Lithium Technologies found that 53 per cent of people expect a brand to respond to tweets within an hour. Unfortunately, recent research by Brand Watch found that only 11.2 per cent of brands respond to questions within 60 minutes, so there is work to be done.”
  4. Contribute with factual information: By doing this you will stay out of the emotional discussions, but influence the opinion, the attitude and the nature of conversations in which people engage. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
  5. Adapt tone of voice: when appropriate use humour it shows a different side that only the business approach. However also know when to undertake serious action. Is a conversation going in an unpleased direction do not be afraid to take it private or withdraw instead of engaging in the negativity.

Once these attention point are clear we can look at where you can use social media for your hotel in a very practical approach.

Development phase: During the development phase social media can be used for co-creation. How co-creation works look at this blog: ‘Co-creating in the hotel industry, the principles and a real-life case on how to approach it.’ You can use social media in the process by opening a discussion forum on social media or even more simple by creating a voting system with the ‘like’ button on Facebook.

Orientation and selection phase in the buying process: During this phase it is extremely important that you are at the top of the mind of customers. For example, when your hotel is located in London you want someone to directly think about booking a room with you when needing a room in London. Social media can help you with this. An example is described in the blog of Shira Lazar called ‘Hotels that rock at social media’. Here she explains that when she couldn’t find a reasonably-priced hotel the messaged an hotel that she was already following on Twitter. The right respond let her to booking a room. (Lazar, 2011)

The after sale phase: Customers can also help each other after the transaction of a product or service has been completed. They can share experiences and guide other customers to the best supplier, but they can also provide each other with help and support in the resolution of questions and trouble-shooting (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). For the hotel industry the sharing of the experiences and guiding each other is mainly be done by writing reviews. These reviews can mostly be found on review and booking sites. It is important that these reviews are not forgotten in the conversation as they can directly lead to positive or negative positioning of your organisation.

However again, social listening should always be the first step in engaging in the social arena. Without knowing what is going on it will be impossible to engage in a conversation. To be more successful in engaging in the conversation do not forgot the attention points, these count for every phase.

Sources:

Griffith, G. (2015, September 8). Making social media a friend – not enemy. Retrieved from Raconteur: http://raconteur.net/business/making-social-media-a-friend-not-enemy

Lazar, S. (2011, February). Hotels That Rock At Social Media. Retrieved from Entrepeneur: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220645

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

How to get to know your hotel guest?

Having knowledge about you guests has many benefits. One of them is that knowing your guest’s preferences helps you to improve your service: E.g. having the favourite drink or pillow type ready for your guest upon arrival. Another benefit is that it helps the marketing department with creating suited offers and promotions. Peelen and Beltman (2013) state that to develop intensive relationships with customers, companies will not only have to form an image of the customer as a buyer, but also as a user and a person or an organisation in their own context. So the question is which data do you need to get to know your guest?

First you start with the identification of the guest. Here you collect the most basic data such as the name, address, city, telephone number and e-mail address. When you have this data you will be able to start segmentation. Segmentation helps you categorise guests in sub-groups and can for example be done on the base of age, origin or sex. “Sub-groups are crucial in order to be able to provide them with a differentiated offering.” (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).

After the identification and segmentation, it is also important to determine in an early stage what the guests’ communication channel preferences are. Knowing what their opinion on different channels is and when they are active on which channel helps you to reach the guest more easily and decreases the chance that your messages are seen as disruptive.

The above mentioned information will help you to create a first insight on who your guest is and how to reach them but it is also important to know what their connection is with your company. First you can look at the transaction history and customer value. Information such as: which services are previously used? How much have they spend in the past? How recently do they purchase? Etc.. help you to gain a deeper understanding of your guest. According to Peelen and Beltman (2013) “direct marketing practice has taught us that historical buying behaviour is one of the best predictors of future purchase behaviour.”

Communication history is important to be able to conduct an on-going dialogue in which repetition can be avoided. A communication summary can offer points of reference in determining the method which might be used to achieve increased depth in the conversation so that more personal data can be exchanged (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). Also, the communication history should make it possible to see the complaint history. Analysing what complaints there have been in the past, how the company dealt with them and how the customer responded helps you to prevent making mistakes again and in case a mistake is made again you will know how to react.

Furthermore having an insight on events in a guests life will give you the opportunity to make offers to the guest at exactly the right time. E.g. when you know a guest’s wedding date you can make an offer on the bridal suite for their wedding night, or you can make an offer the years after to celebrate their anniversary. Gathering data on events is difficult but some of this type of data can be procured from third-party organisations.

Last but certainly not least important in getting to know your customer is knowing how satisfied they are. Satisfaction can be measured overall but it is also very useful to know how satisfied they are with certain elements of your service. This knowledge will help you to improve the service according to the guests wishes.

Collecting all this information will help you to get to know the buyer, the user and the person within your hotel guest and enables you to improve your service and helps your marketing. Which will eventually lead to happier guests that are more likely to return or to spread positive word of mouth advertisement about your hotel.

Sources:

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

Frustrations of personal selling and the connection with engagement arenas

Personal selling is a promotional method in which a supplier or an organisation uses skills and techniques to build a personal relationship with the consumers during the sales process.  The main types of sales processes are; transaction (customer buys exactly what he wants), consultative (customer seeks for available alternatives) and strategic (customer is interested in the product as well as skills of supplier) sales processes. On the other hand, engagement arenas are platforms where the company establishes relationship with the customer. However the mind boggling question is; how is personal selling combined with the modern digitized engagement arenas in the hotel industry?

First of all, frustrations will arise if a sales agent who excels in transactional sales is put in charge of the consultative sales process and vice versa (Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013). The good thing is that now a days a lot of industries are aware of the sales processes and therefore makes good use of it.

For instance when you take a look at the fast food industries such as McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Star bucks Etc., they sell something more than food. They sell satisfaction, an added value which the customer seeks during the sales process. A typical example is by Coca-Cola who showed personal selling through their wide varieties of Coca-Cola brands (Sprite, Schweppes, Fanta, Coke etc.). They gained mass consumption through both online and offline advertisements, by combining personal selling and online digitization as a good engagement technique to increase sales. They created an online website called buy.shareacoke.com where potential visitors can buy their customized coco-cola brands and have it delivered to their homes, weddings, birthdays or any events. This is indeed a unique way of selling and we can relate it to both transactional sales and strategic sales process. They also have a login menu which means they are also engaged with the customer and the customer can return to do more orders via the website in future.

Furthermore, nowadays a lot of industries are also creating similar websites where you can customize your own food, drinks, clothes, gadgets etc. however, it is very rare that many hotel industries do this. What most hotel industries do is that, they create a hotel app where visitors can order for food or drinks to be served to their room. This shows an example of engagement techniques used in the hotel industries.  These days the internet of things (IoT) has affected the consumer journey to the point that before the end of 2024, the customer’s journey from home to the hotel will be digitized (Skyscanner, 2016).

Therefore it is necessary that hotels can combine an online engagement arena with the personal selling so that they will not only be moving ahead with the future trends but also get rid of the unpleasant frustrations during the sales process.

 

References:

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Education Limited

Skyscanner (2016) .The future of Travel 2024. Retrieved on 28th September, 2016 from http://www.skyscanner2024.com/part1.php

The Coca-Cola Company (2016). Share a coke: Customize your 8oz glass coke bottles. Retrieved on 11th October, 2016 from https://buy.shareacoke.com/

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The benefits of mobile marketing (mobile apps)in the digital arena of the hotel industry.

What is mobile marketing?
According to Marketing Land “Mobile Marketing involves reaching customers and prospects when they’re using the internet away from the traditional home/office desktop environment”. Because of the increased usage of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, mobile marketing is becoming increasingly important for the online business (land, 2015).According to Peelen & Beltman ” The ultimate promise of mobile marketing is to integrate some form of the organization’s presence into the everyday lives of its customer “.

Currently, everyone has a smartphone which they are using for multiple purposes such as stay engaging on social media, writing reviews, searching for information, booking an holiday and making reservations. For the hotel industry this is the opportunity to use mobile marketing in order to generate more customers. They have the opportunity to engage with their customer through mobile marketing which can create a noble experience for the customer (Anastasios A. Economides, 2009).

There are various hotels, who are using this mobile marketing approach. Often, the big chain hotels are using this mobile approach(mobile app) to engage with their customers. For smaller companies it is often not affordable to develop an app because it requires a huge amount of investment.

One successful example is the hotel app of Hilton called “Hilton Honor”. Hilton is a well known hotel chain around the world and is perceived as a very luxurious accommodation. Hilton has created an app, where customers can check in 1 day before their check- in date, customers will receive a notification if the room is ready, customer can order dinner through the app, the departure date can be easily changed and there are much more options. After they created this app, they were be able to reduce some of their fixed costs and were able to engage with their customer through to entire process (Expert, 2014).

The negative aspect of the mobile app is that some companies are not interacting with the customer after the stay. Often, hotels only interacting
with customers before and during the stay. Hilton came up with the brillant idea to interact with the clients after the stay. They have introduced
that the customer can earn points,if they stayed in one of the Hilton chain hotels. Customer can get discount in return of their points (Expert, 2014).

To conclude, mobile apps are very beneficial within the hotel industry. Firstly, it is a huge investment. However, the huge investment can result in decrease of fixed costs. Secondly, companies can interact with the customers before, during and after the stay and create a good experience for the customers through this online approach.

Bibliography

Anastasios A. Economides, A. G. (2009). Students’ thoughts about the importance and costs of their mobile devices’ features and services. Telematics and Informatics, 57- 84.

Expert, T. L. (2014, November 21). Retrieved October 11, 2016, from Hilton’s loyalty program (HHonors) explained: https://theluxurytravelexpert.com/2014/11/21/hilton-hhonors/

land, M. (2015, Janurary 2014). Retrieved October 11, 2016, from Mobile Marketing : http://marketingland.com/library/mobille/marketing