Customer profiling: A must in the hotel industry

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The hotel industry is a competitive world in which one needs to differentiate them from the others. One way to do that is customer profiling. This concept gives hotels the opportunity to gain more insight into their guests and to be able to understand their behaviour, characteristics and interests better. It enables them to communicate more effectively. In these first 3 sentences, I have mentioned already two benefits of customer profiling, but there are much more! You can say that customer profiling is very crucial in this industry (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).

How does it work? To begin with, it is important to understand who your ideal customer is and what connects them with each other. Look at their demographics (age, gender, income etc.), psychographics (personality, preferences, etc.) and their behaviour. Then find out where they are located. Meaning try to find out what they search for and whether this is online and offline and through which channels. Followed by doing research on what there needs and wants are that drive the guests to book a room.
After finding out all this information about potential clients it is important to reach out to your current clients. Make use of interviews or questionnaires to find out how and why they chose you as the solution to their problem. When all this information is collected it is time to create client profiles or in other words personas. These personas describe your guests and show you what motivates them. This enables hotels to target better and not waste time (Dania Dunlap-Hurden, 2016).

Customer profiling has so many benefits for hotels. As mentioned before customer profiling gives you a better understanding of your guests. With all the information that has been gathered while creating a profile, you discover how, when, where and what to communicate to your guests. You get to understand exactly who they are. This leads to another benefit, which is a better response rate.

Furthermore, you can create better opportunities with the use of this information. As you know all the needs, wants and interests you can adjust your product and or service accordingly to meet them. Or even create something totally new. You can create a better experience and make them feel welcome and valued. Another benefit, also mentioned before, is that you can create a competitive advantage. If you know what makes them happy, satisfied and even loyal you can create long-term relationships and make them less vulnerable to the competition. Finally, customer profiling increases profit. It will cost a less time and money as you will not lose time and money on guests that are not even interested in your product and or service. You will have a higher return on your efforts (Susan Oakes, 2010) (Serendipity 2, 2010).

To finalize this blog, I will give a successful example of where focusing on the client has worked. Accorhotels has created a mobile app and platform, which can be used in 18 different languages. It is created to provide its guests with personalized services before, during and even after their stay. Through this app, the guests can see every detail of the hotel, book rooms, contact the hotel and it offers guides for travel ideas. The benefit of this app for Accor is that they can track their interests and interactions, both offline and online. Based on all the information they get from this, they are able to send out the perfect message and or offers at the right moment. It resulted in 47,000 daily reservations.

Bibliography
Dania Dunlap-Hurden. (April 19, 2016). Five simple steps to creating an ideal customer profile. Retrieved from:
http://blog.thewholebraingroup.com/steps-to-creating-an-ideal-customer-profile

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

Serendipity 2, (2010). What is customer profiling? Retrieved from:
http://serendipity2.com/articles/what-is-customer-profiling/

Susan Oakes, (2010). 5 benefits of building simple customer profiles. Retrieved from:
http://www.m4bmarketing.com/5-benefits-of-building-simple-customer-profiles/

Photo is retrieved from:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/148722882@N04/35433663193/in/photolist-92zxYv-XZjGwC-TrJHbq-SN4YiT-7HcgLD-4tneYS-7px9Cg-ckAP4w-VZ9Mzt-jaVGBw-94td1b-U2LngT-bFGYp6-iEsZsq-4LTfan-WWa8Xm-eN1uhq-qqguR6-mQse49-TrJJbb-79njSv-rtUJbn-RjbVHb-kjbUcF-9yeBgM


 

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A distribution strategy leads to succes in the hotel business

Due to all the technological changes going on in the world we have seen the hotel distribution landscape getting bigger than ever. There are so many different channels nowadays from which guests can book a room. The more you distribute as a hotel the more people you will reach and attract and the more the hotel will grow (Jennifer Mays, 2017). As every hotel is unique and has its own needs and wants the distribution strategies are also unique. Choosing the right combination of channels is a key to success!

The main goal for a hotel is a perfect sell, which means all the rooms are sold. To be able to achieve this is to find out which channels are most beneficial and powerful and thus generate the most revenue for your hotel. Before going into the process, it is important to know what kind of channels exist.

First of all, we have direct business, which can be divided into online reservations through the website, phone reservations and guests who simply walk into the hotel. As these reservations are directly made at the hotel there is no commission that needs to be paid. Therefore, one can say the more direct business the better. The only cost that a hotel has is the development of the website ( Joan Evelynn Lee, 2016).

Then we continue with the OTA’s. They are very important for most hotels, especially nowadays when most bookings are done online. For consumers, it is an easy, quick and efficient way of booking a room. OTA’s can reach a wide range of customers in once. Furthermore, there is the Global Distribution System (GDS). This system provides an insight into pricing, inventory, availability, and reservation functionality (Juan Duran, 2015). Lastly, as seen in the picture above social media and metasearch also play a big role.

Where do you start then? You have to ask yourself three simple questions.
1. Which channels do my guests use and when?
2. Where do guests choose to book?
3. How much profit do you make from each of those? (Tim Peter, 2016)

A hotel needs to define which channels are going to be used. It is important to choose the channels that reach the biggest audience and therefore the ones most powerful, It can be a combination of both offline and online channels. After the channels are determined one needs to decide at which touch point they need to be used and in which stage of the customer journey. To make such a decision you need to have a more insight into the preferences and behaviours of the guest, This requires research. After the hotel has passed step one it needs to find out where the guests choose to book and where the most profit comes from.

As you were able to read there as so many different channels. The right combination will vary per hotel and will constantly be changing throughout the years. As you do not want to lose guests it is very important to keep on researching what channels are most powerful and what they generate and adjust your contribution strategy accordingly.

Bibliography
Jennifer Mays, (2017). Choosing the best distribution strategy: Should it be as unique as your hotel? Retrieved from:
http://www.sabrehospitality.com/resources/hotel-marketing-blogs/choosing-best-distribution-strategy-should-it-be-unique-your-hotel

Joan Evelyn Lee, (August 23, 2016). Achieving the ideal hotel distribution mix. Retrieved from:
http://www.traveltripper.com/blog/achieving-the-ideal-hotel-distribution-mix/

Juan Duran, (June 16, 2015). Website, GDS and OTA: the right mix in distribution channel investments. Retrieved from:
https://ehotelier.com/insights/2015/06/16/website-gds-and-ota-the-right-mix-in-distribution-channel-investments/

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

Tim Peter, (November 9, 2016). Focus on channels that drive strong business results. Retrieved from:
http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/83352/Focus-on-channels-that-drive-strong-business-results

The photo is retrieved from:
https://www.mycloudhospitality.com/blog/channel-manager-and-metasearch

 

 

 

A multichannel strategy is the key of success for every tour operator

With today’s technology, customers are able to ask for up-to-date information anytime, anyplace and anywhere from the tour operators (McKean, 2013). Since the customers are everywhere, this interaction can take place through a variety of direct and indirect communication channels and it is the job of today’s marketers to enable customers to take action in response using the channel of their choice (Dean, 2016). Simply put, multichannel marketing is all about choice (SAS, 2017).

The multichannel strategy is a marketing strategy on how to combine the different channels (Peelen & Beltman, 2013) and, very importantly, how to provide the same level of customer service on each channel (Kelly, 2015). In order to know which channels to be included in the strategy, Peelen and Beltman state three depending aspects; the costs, the accessibility of the organisation and the customer experience that is offered (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). The costs that come along with a certain channel mix are most of the time the primary reason to choose or not to choose for certain channels. Nowadays, more and more online channels are used, because they are more effective and have significant lower costs (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). Furthermore, improving the way customers experience their contact with the organisation is a crucial point. A good combination of channels will often achieve the goal to raise customer satisfaction and lowering the costs by offering experience-oriented service (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).

So, what is needed to create a good multichannel marketing strategy for tour operators? Start with creating and maintaining a single view of the customer (SAS, 2017). It is vital to understand how your customers behave across all channels, at each and every touch point with your company and keeping this view up to date. The next step is to create a multichannel marketing platform, which integrates your traditional and emerging channels (SAS, 2017). This will simplify the creation of cross-channel campaigns, which is a single campaign replicated across various channels and spreads the same message the organisation wants to deliver on all the channels. Finally, tour operators should create consistent customer experiences across all channels; it is your differentiator from the competition and it is all about the quality and consistency of it.

A company that implemented the multichannel strategy very well, is TUI. It is the world largest travel brand and provides all kinds of different holiday (packages) to their customers (TUI, 2017). They are present both online and offline and are a pro in combining these different channels. In 2013, their profits grow by 21% due to this multichannel strategy. They saw the swift from offline to online and invested in a mobile website; as their customers increasingly use their tablets and mobile phones to dream, plan , search and book with them (Rigby, 2013). Furthermore, they took digital into next-generation stores. They developed a holiday planner tool that allows the customers to take their ideas, which they created with the employee’s personal advice and service, home and book using whatever channel they choose (Rigby, 2013). They adapted to the customer preferences and deliver the same customer experience through the different channels.

So, all in all a multichannel strategy is vital for the tour operators. Giving your customers the best experience possible, needs to happen through all types of different channels that the company uses. This will ensure that the customers stay loyal to your brand and start to spread the word.

Sources

Dean, N. (2016, March 1). Successful Multi-Channel Marketing In The Modern World. Retrieved from Trellis: https://trellis.co/blog/successful-multi-channel-marketing-in-the-modern-world/

Kelly, L. (2015, June). Managing your customer’s multi-channel service experience. Retrieved from ComputerWeekly.com: http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Managing-your-customers-multi-channel-service-experience

McKean, P. (2013, November 21). Multi-channel customer service in the travel sector: Are we nearly there yet? Retrieved from MyCustomer: https://www.mycustomer.com/community/blogs/pmckean/multi-channel-customer-service-in-the-travel-sector-are-we-nearly-there-yet

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

Rigby, C. (2013, December 1). TUI Travel delivers 21% profits growht as multichannel investment pays off. Retrieved from Internet Retailing: http://internetretailing.net/2013/12/tui-travel-delivers-21-profits-growth-as-multichannel-investment-pays-off/

SAS. (2017). Multichannel Marketing – What is it and why it matters. Retrieved from SAS: https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/marketing/multichannel-marketing.html

TUI. (2017). Homepage. Retrieved from TUI: http://www.tui.nl

 

Social media is a ‘’must’’ to communicate and to analyse behaviours of costumers in the tour operator industry.

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Social media is an important channel that can provide consumers with access to organisations and can significantly affect the revenues and cost structure of an organisation (Ed Peelen, 2013). Social media is all about connecting with people. Consumers and businesses use this to communicate and exchange information. Moreover, business can benefit from this by gaining customer insight, which is a very valuable asset when making decisions: What do customers desire? What are their ‘natural preferences’ or ‘instinctive behaviours’? What can be improved in the current system? (Ed Peelen, 2013)

Social media platforms Informs, advises, supports and builds relationship with existing costumers and potential costumer, which finally can result in selling by gaining mutual understanding. Social media platforms are places where interested people can meet and share comments, thoughts and opinions (Ed Peelen, 2013). For example, Facebook allows people to share their content, ideas, videos, status, mood or whatever they want to share with the click of a button (Facebook, n.d).

The advantage of social media is that marketers don’t have to push their messages owing to the fact that customers choose to allow this by following their social media pages (Timoteo, 2017). Consumers are able choose their social media platform and follow businesses of interest. Increasing numbers of followers results in a passionate social media community, which can approve the products and services of a business trough their network of reference but also by commenting on the social media page of their business of interest (Sadana, 2017). However, not everybody will be positive about the organisation’s performance, and new manners must be found to deal with this, because the experiences are being shown in an open setting (Ed Peelen, 2013). In order to get attention, content and is taking a central role: Businesses have to communicate with their costumers as well by providing them with interesting updates (Ed Peelen, 2013).

By closely monitoring activities of consumers on owned social media pages, businesses are able to analyse behaviours of costumers. Bot positive and negative feedback can be a motive for businesses to innovate their services to gain competitive advantage. Feedback shows a business how it could improve relationships, supports product launches, increases market share, revenues and profitability and changes brand attitudes (Ed Peelen, 2013).

A great example of a tour operator who uses social media to communicate with their costumers and see it as an opportunity to analyse consumer behaviour is ‘’TUI’’. TUI has a Facebook community of 3.5 million followers and daily posting information about its organisation, which are of interest to their followers. Followers on their Facebook page are liking, sharing and tagging their network references on various posts of TUI. This contributes to that messages of TUI is being easily spread to existing costumers and potential costumers, which results in relationship building by being on top-off-mind-awareness. TUI’s Facebook page, also allows costumers to chat directly with their employees for bottlenecks and feedback. This offers TUI the possibility to analyse the behaviour and various opinions of costumers to innovate their services or to create certain marketing strategies (Hulshof, 2013).

To conclude, social media is a crucial channel for tour operators to communicate with costumers and to analyse their behaviour. This contributes to relationship building with both existing costumers and potential costumers and also assists tour operators to innovate their products and services. This all will contribute to gaining competitive advantage in the tour operator industry.

 

Bibliography

Ed Peelen, R. B. (2013). Customer Relationship Management . Bournemouth: Pearson.

Facebook. (n.d). Sharing on the Web. Opgeroepen op October 2, 2017, van Facebook: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/sharing/web/

Hulshof, A. (2013, February 20). TUI Nederland: van zenden naar interactief reismerk. Opgeroepen op October 7, 2017, van Marketingfacts: https://www.marketingfacts.nl/berichten/tui-nederland-van-zenden-naar-interactief-reismerk

Sadana, S. (2017, July 24). Louisem. Opgeroepen op October 6, 2017, van Why Social Media Marketing Is A Must For Business: https://louisem.com/205538/why-social-media-marketing

Timoteo, J. (2017, January 16). How to Build a Social Media Following in 2017. Opgeroepen op October 5, 2017, van Impact: https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/grow-social-media-following

 

 

 

To blog or not to blog? The advantages of using the social web to market Hostels.

The worldwide web of the past first started out as “read-only” medium however that is far from today’s worldwide web. In the 1990s the Internet was compared to phonebooks and was hardly productive to use as a commercial medium. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)  Over time technological improvements ended that era and increased bandwidth which made it possible to distribute more bits and bytes. It became less text-based and “read-only” to a more interactive medium. Now it is easier to up-and download films, sounds, animations, and etc. on the world wide web, thus making the web a virtual, interactive brochure for businesses like hostels. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

As technology and online media continues to develop it creates more and more possibilities to share content. This means that the internet entered yet another era that was dubbed “web 2.0”, where it became a platform that like-minded people can meet and share comments, thoughts and opinions. Millennials often use what is now  known as the internet “Big-Five”: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Hyves (The Netherlands). The Big-Five draw in millions of people to their websites on a daily basis. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

There are many different technology that hostels can use for social web marketing:

  • Social tagging
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Wikis
  • Communities

Each of these technologies have its advantages and disadvantages, however hostels would get the best use out of blogs.

According to Peelen (Customer Relationship Management, 2013), blogs are online diaries where people express experience and ideas or links to places they find interesting. They can make or break reputations. Getting in contact with popular online bloggers or “online celebrities” usually blog about their everyday life in an interesting way that attracts people to read. It can be compared to journalists giving a review in the newspaper and depending on the review it can either generate more consumers to the respected business or not. Bloggers are the modern day journalists without hinderance of any editorial limitations. When a blogger uploads their experiences businesses can gain an insight in to what customers really think of their services. (Jamieson, 2013) However hostels can use this as an advantage by getting in contact with known local bloggers and exchange their services for a positive review on their blogs. Unlike in the past with newspaper journalists hostels  have the opportunity to sway how they are being written about. (Jamieson, 2013)

To conclude the above mentioned, hostels could use bloggers to enchance the way they are perceived by their target audience. It is a way to get ahead of negative press at the cost of a free stay or another service that they may offer.

 

Work Cited

Jamieson, C. M. (2013). The role of blogging in the Social Media marketing Ecosystem. Opgehaald van Adaptive Business Services : http://adaptive-business.com/the-role-of-blogging-in-the-social-marketing-ecosystem/

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

 

 

 

 

Hotels can create more engaging experiences through mobile apps

smartphone-2493419_960_720According to Peelen & Beltman, the ultimate goal of mobile marketing is to integrate the hotel’s presence into the everyday lives of the customers. By entering their living space, hotels are able to identify the customer, their context and connect to other media around them to offer more engaging experiences. Hotels should embrace the marketing technique to create more engaging experiences for their customers focused on the experience phase in the customer journey. The mobile channel is ideal for customer engagement management implementation because of its capability to offer relevant and personalized services and the right moment in time. (Liu & R. Law, 2013)

Research done by Forrester (2016) identified a 450% increase in mobile bookings since 2009. Potential customer use mobile apps more and more often to book their holiday. This is a significant growth and hotel need to adapt to these trends in order to manage customer retention. Furthermore this research has shown an increase of 75% of travellers using a mobile device to shop and book activities during their holiday but most importantly, 60% of travellers will download a new app for their upcoming trip. This offers a major potential for hotel to create a mobile marketing tool that actually improves the customer experience.

Multiple hotels offer mobile applications that help customers to skip the check-in process by providing a mobile check-in service. However to really enrich the experience of the customer, hotels need to take an extra effort. Additionally, what is posted on mobile apps is usually the same information as is on the web sites. However, online customers and mobile customers do not share exactly the same characteristics. (Magrath & McCormick, 2013)

A well-known hotel chain that already implemented this theory and created a mobile application for travellers to use during their stay is W Hotels. The hotel managed to successfully integrate in the experience of their guests. It includes for example music playlists mixed by W Hotel’s resident DJ’s and it offers users to order anything they would like to a guest room, for themselves but also as a present for others. (Weissman, 2013) Furthermore it  has a feature that enables guests to share their experiences directly in and from the application.

The changing behaviour of travellers and other customers and their mobility is increasing more and more. Hotels need to generate continuous interaction to build long-term relationships with its customers. (Lu, 2015) When customers use a hotel’s mobile application during their stay, the number of interactions grows and this will help to build emotional connections. According to Horwell (2015) it is important to offer relevant information and offers based on time and location. Technology made it possible for a marketer to exactly know where the customer is at any time of the day. This provides the hotel with the opportunity to give their guests useful information about the weather, nearby attractions or restaurants, information that enriches the customer experience.

References

Liu, Y., & R. Law. (2013). The adoption of smartphone applications by airlines. Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism.

Lu, X. (2015). Evaluating E-Relationship Marketing Features on Hotel Mobile Apps. University of Nevada, Las Vegas: UNLV.

Magrath, V., & McCormick, H. (2013). Branding design elements of mobile fashion retail apps. . Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 98-114.

Weissman, S. (2013, July 2). 5 Hotel Brands With Useful Mobile Apps. Retrieved from Digiday: https://digiday.com/marketing/5-hotel-brands-with-useful-mobile-apps/

 

 

Marketing tool opportunities for TO’s within the digital arena

The world is changing all around us and we are bound to notice. From disappearing landscapes to the rapid influx of new technology, everything matters in this digital age of our globalised world. Information about the digital marketing tools from only a few years old is severely outdated due to the rapid developments that are being made. Tour operators should have become aware that addressing only one of the three arenas (physical, digital and social) will not be enough anymore and that it should all be well integrated. Their marketing needs to be coherent and companies should quickly adjust to trends, especially in the digital arena that is.

The major effects of our ‘revolutionary’ marketing trends in the tourism industry have already been predicted for a while, yet implementation has been fairly low. According to Peelen and Beltman in 2013, the customer experience could still be enhanced by combining the physical and virtual arena. This is exactly what the most influential marketing tool of nowadays; virtual reality, sounds like. Experiencing a destination from the comfort of your own couch is no longer impossible and this flexibility has created a wide spectrum of possibilities for marketers.

augmented-reality-1853592_1920Source: Pixabay

It is known that certain companies have already implemented virtual reality, forexample in their physical stores or by promoting themselves online via 360 degrees’ videos. However, to gain such material, large investments are needed since the equipment is not something that is being mass produced yet and therefore does not come cheap. However, this is not the only complication with generating marketing content via virtual reality. Original or creative input, together with an experienced VR team are needed to realize truly interesting content according to (Jelsma, 2017). He also claims that there is no virtual reality application available that generates enough return on investment yet. Therefore, most smaller tour operators will be anticipating further developments a bit longer.

However, there are enough alternatives within the virtual reality that can be used by the smaller companies. Creating VR content is expensive, yet there is not always the need to create new content. Van den Berg (2017) uses the content google puts out as an example; High quality 360 degrees’ photo and videos, which can be viewed for free by everyone around the world. Integrating this content with your website is easy to do and free when done correctly. Whether the customer looks at a 360 degrees’ photo of a volcano that your company has made or was already online is not too important for the customer experience in this case.

Another example is the app Timelooper, which enables tourists to see certain locations throughout history. Currently, the app only includes London, New York, Washington DC, Budapest, Berlin and Izmir, but more locations are being realized rapidly. This app brings storytelling to a whole new level and it could have a huge effect on the way tours will be executed. TO’s can use all this content to market the possibilities tourists have at their destinations. Even interaction within the story lines will soon be possible, so soon enough you might be able to see how many people visited Donald Trumps’ inauguration day through his perspective. (Field, 2017)

In conclusion, many new marketing tools arise over time for Tour operators, yet the direction has been made clear. Virtual reality increases sales and brings exciting new possibilities along. Even the total customer engagement model could be implemented when employees engage with the customer within a virtual reality platform, to maximize the customer engagement and increase the overall CRM.

 

Bibliography

Field, A. (2017, 28 March). From tour operators to app developers, people are applying virtual reality technology to tourism. Received on 2017, from newsroom cisco: https://newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?articleId=1832637

Jelsma, J. (2017, 06 20). vr in tourism from a business point of view. Received on 2017, from virtual reality in tourism: http://www.virtual-reality-in-tourism.com/vr-in-tourism-from-a-business-point-of-view/

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