Hotel Online  Special Report

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 E-Mail Marketing Campaigns ‘Clicking’
For Digital Alchemy Customer Hotels
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Hotels experiencing 34% to 55% open rate from e-mail blast campaign; 
Program proving that guests like to hear what is going on at properties
and actually book return trips and purchase branded
property items online! 
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Fort Worth, Texas— April 5, 2005 — If you think e-mail marketing is a risky, non-productive way to market to your guests, think again. Digital Alchemy, a customer-relationship management and electronic-marketing company, based here, has designed a E-Blast Manager e-mail campaign which is generating high "open" rates and "click-through" volumes for its customer hotels. The result is increased revenue from repeat bookings and on-line purchases, and growth in customer loyalty and property/brand awareness.

"Whether our customer hotels are trying to get people to return to their properties for a specific offer, or simply want to keep their customers informed on what is going on at their properties, the Digital Alchemy E-Blast Manager program is working – and in a BIG way," said Don Hay, Digital Alchemy CEO. "This is not just a feel-good marketing tool. It’s a measuring device that tracks if customers are still in tune with a property, and whether or not they care about the property’s ongoing marketing message. An e-mail campaign is only good if you can track and measure the results."

On average, 34 percent of all E-Blast Manager recipients over the past six months have opened the promotional e-mail blasts sent by Digital Alchemy’s customer hotels. Up to 24 percent of those clicked through to a specific amenity or property feature or to the hotel’s shopping page. This success rate is more than 5 times the 3 percent to 7 percent rate for similar campaigns reported by industry benchmarks.

"Most people would call a 34% success rate ‘unbelievable’ for an e-blast program," said Sherry May, Vice President of Sales for Digital Alchemy. "But it’s not unexpected due to the customer-relationship management process that begins the instant a booking is placed at the hotel. By the time a guest receives the E-Blast Manager, he or she has already received a full-color e-mail HTML reservation confirmation, pre-visit activity suggestions with property photos and hotel messages, and a thank-you note with a click-through on-line guest comment card. Therefore, a line of communication and relationship via email between the hotel and the guest already has been established, and the guest feels comfortable opening future messages – and actually looks forward to them."

Hay said that Digital Alchemy’s Data2Gold e-Relationship Manager product gathers and uses data from the hotel’s property-management system and other sources to create the database and execute the e-mail marketing programs.

Impressive results resound

The Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of several properties achieving great success through Digital Alchemy. The island resort encompasses 10 miles of wide, immaculate, ocean beach on which visiting guests can select from private oceanfront homes, handsomely appointed golf course villas or luxurious rooms or suites at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island. Kiawah Island Golf Resort is the only resort in the country that has three courses ranked on Golf Digest's list of "America's Top 75 Resort Courses," and Conde Nast Traveler recently listed the Resort among the top "50 Golf Resorts Worldwide."

Last month, Kiawah (www.kiawahresort.com) launched two E-Blast Manager e-mail programs. The first was sent on March 8 to more than 6,200 past guests. Of those, 1,639 recipients (26.42 percent) opened the e-mail. Then on March 16 the property distributed another E-Blast Manager to more than 1,200 past guests. More than 660 recipients (a stunning 55.07 percent) opened the e-mail. Of those, 160 recipients (24.13 percent) clicked through to The Sanctuary’s shopping page, featuring property logo apparel, gifts and pro-shop accessories.

"We partnered with Digital Alchemy because we wanted a way to market our resort’s amenities, particularly golf, to our guests before they arrived at the resort," said Jack Case, Sales and Marketing Project Manager for Kiawah Island Golf Resort and The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island. "Digital Alchemy had the system and all the components we were looking for, including an interface to our PMS which enables us to provide our guests with e-mail confirmations of their reservation, pre- and post-stay e-mailed letters, a follow-up thank you e-mail, and an e-comment card."

Case said Kiawah is currently using the Digital Alchemy E-Blast Manager program as a way to promote its seasonal golf packages and special events. Everyone at Kiawah, he said, is thrilled with the e-mail program’s success. 

"Digital Alchemy offers a number of great CRM tools and e-marketing programs that allow for a continuous communication stream with our customers, from reservations to beyond check-out," Case said. "The more you communicate with your customers, the better informed they will be about your offerings, and the more likely they will be to take advantage of them." 

One-Stop E-Shop

Deborah Evans, general manager for the Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah, concurred. She said Red Mountain has been working with Digital Alchemy for the past two years to manage the property’s e-marketing program. Red Mountain (www.redmountainspa.com) features a full-service salon, spa and resort, situated on 55 acres of Southwestern land. Magnificent views of mountains and national canyons can be seen from the property’s 109 guestrooms and 11 villa suites.

"There are a lot of companies out there offering e-marketing functionality and e-blast programs, but only Digital Alchemy has the CRM function that ties into our PMS," Evans said. "This is a big piece to a bigger puzzle that everyone else is missing. The Digital Alchemy E-Blast Manager program allows us to identify the buying patterns of our guests online. Through a series of query questions that we strategically placed on the reservation confirmation, the pre-visit promotion e-mail that is sent seven days prior to arrival, and the post-visit thank you e-mail, we are able to get info on all types of guest preference information. This way we can target our future customers with e-mail promotions that are driven by need and desire."

Over the past five months, Red Mountain has sent approximately 127,000 E-Blast Manager e-mails. Of those, more than 18,900 recipients (15 percent) have opened the email. More recently, the numbers have increased to about 22.63 percent. Like Kiawah, Digital Alchemy was selected by Red Mountain based on recommendations from peers and their solid, growing reputation in the hospitality industry.

"Digital Alchemy offers a one-stop-shopping solution for e-marketing that Red Mountain Spa—and the hospitality industry as a whole—really needs," Evans said. "Not only do they have the ability to initiate an e-blast direct from our PMS, but they manage the entire e-marketing program offsite as an ASP, from generating e-reports to tracking the effectiveness of our online marketing program to managing and collecting critical customer-specific information in regard to buying habits. As we see the shift moving from direct mail marketing to e-marketing, Digital Alchemy is the only way to go."

May said there are no rules . . . no tools . . . and no limits . . . to what Digital Alchemy can do with its online CRM functionality. Hotels and resorts can maximize the impact of their marketing effort through a number of programs specifically designed for the hospitality market.

"Digital Alchemy and its technology advances now make it possible to establish and maintain relationships with guests and increase guest loyalty," Hay said. "In order to take full advantage of these advances, it is necessary to give the guest a reason to provide their e-mail addresses and – more importantly – send a series of messages that establish a relationship with the guest. This relationship will cause them to want to read a hotel’s messages in the future. Digital Alchemy helps properties achieve these goals at a very low cost."

Shift toward e-marketing growing

Doug Leedke, General Manager for the Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Mich., said Treetops uses the Digital Alchemy e-marketing advances to its full capacity. Treetops Resort (www.treetops.com) is one of the Midwest’s premier four-season resorts, offering majestic views of one of northern Michigan’s most stunning landscapes. The property features 252 guestrooms, and two- and three-bedroom condominiums overlooking views of ski hills, golf courses, pristine woods and wetlands.

"We’ve made a significant shift in our marketing strategy at Treetops over the past two years," Leedke said. "We’ve switched from using traditional print media sources to digital media when promoting our property. Not only does this put a stronger emphasis on our property’s Web site, but it enables us to collect guest information and build a vital database of customer information that enables us to market to the 20 that gives us the 80."

Leedke said he is particularly impressed with the high click-through volume achieved via the Digital Alchemy E-Blast Manager. 

"As we keep our site current, the Digital Alchemy e-blast program continues to bring a new customer base to our site," Leedke said. "This enables new and existing customers to learn about our offerings and see what’s new and fresh at the property. Digital Alchemy keeps Treetops top-of-mind—and after all, that’s what any marketer is looking for."

Typically traditional media sources, such as direct mail or display advertising, require a long lead time to get a product or company in front of its intended audience, Leedke said, adding that "It’s almost inefficient." 

"Digital Alchemy, on the other hand, enables us to instantly drive short-term business—which is what we are looking for," he said. "We’ve had great success in tracking our e-marketing effort, understanding where pockets of new business lie, where we need help in improving our marketing message, and how to implement a new marketing strategy using the DA technology to our advantage.

"The bottom line is, Treetops is ahead of the marketing curve today because of the technology and programs that Digital Alchemy brings to the table," Leedke added. 

Through Digital Alchemy, the messages that hotels bring to their guests are done so in a cost effective manner that builds loyalty and that adds significantly to the top and bottom lines, Hay said. 

"It’s more effective to keep the guests you have than to try to find new ones," Hay said. "The net effect of our e-blasts and our entire e-marketing and CRM programs, is to position the message coming from a hotel in the guests’ mind as being relevant, interesting and worth reading. From these comments offered by our loyal customers, and from the reports showing the number of emails ‘opened’ and the click-through volumes that are growing exponentially at each property, we are certainly doing something right."

About Digital Alchemy

With extensive experience in - and exclusive focus on - the hospitality industry, Digital Alchemy’s team of experts understands the need of hotel management companies and independent hotels for powerful, cost-effective software solutions that improve customer relationships, boost occupancy and drive revenue. The company’s Data2Gold e-Relationship Manager, with five modules, provides an unmatched range of advanced email-based CRM capabilities that increase the effectiveness of hoteliers’ marketing programs. For more information, visit www.data2gold.com or email them at SalesTeam@Data2Gold.com.


 
Contact:

Barb Worcester
President/Principal
PRpro
Tel: (440) 930-5770
barbw@prproconsulting.com

Don Hay
CEO
Digital Alchemy
Tel: (817) 249-0757
dhay@Data2Gold.com

Also See: Digital Alchemy to Deliver One-to-One Database Marketing Tools to MICROS Hotel Front Office Users, Becomes Certified MICROS Fidelio Business Partner / June 2003
No. 1 Westin in North America Taps Email CRM Potential  to Create ‘Emotional Connection’ with Repeat Guests / June 2003


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