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A rich customer database is key to helping hotel marketing strategies succeed, driving revenues and increasing guest loyalty

  

By Shallana Edwards

Email is not dead! Contrary to what's being written in the "Twittersphere," "blogosphere" and "whereversphere," email is here to stay.  

ZDirect, an Email Service Provider that is pioneering Hotel Marketing Automation for the hospitality industry, is working with hoteliers to implement four successful strategies that, when applied to their email marketing efforts, will generate significant revenues at their hotels:

1. Send Relevant and Personalized Emails

If you are sending bulk email broadcasts to your entire database, chances are you are probably wondering why opens, click-through rates and revenues are decreasing. Everybody is different, including the hundreds of thousands of emails you've collected over the years. Treat your customers to what they want - with personalized and relevant emails on topics that interest them. 

Survey your guests, collect data about each one and learn about their purchase behaviors and preferences so you can stop sending bulk emails and start sending relevant messages that generate higher revenues. 

Reward past guests and segment your database first by sending out an Exclusive Offer to book six months early before rates increase. To keep the integrity of the low rate, work with your Revenue Manager to ensure that rates will not go lower before they arrive. ZDirect has found this strategy to be a great way to shore up business early on the books, prevent the heavy use of revenue sharing deals sites and discounting on OTA's. 

Other examples of successful strategies implemented by ZDirect customers include:

Sending last minute offers to guests who live within 300 miles of your hotel. Don't send a bulk email. Target those guests who live within certain distance radius to increase open rates and conversions on the email.

Segment your list by travel preference or style, for example, family travelers, couples, golfers, and more. Send out emails to that specific segmentation during peak travel season to increase open rates and conversions. Summer, Spring Break and Winter Break are peak travel times for families so encourage them to book early. 

2. Increase Incremental Revenues by Upselling Your Rooms and Packages with Email

Are you upselling rooms and amenity packages such as massage services or dining credits in your emails? If no, why not? You promote this on your booking engine and your front desk agents are trained to upsell. Increase the likelihood of capturing upsell revenue by sending emails as well.

ZDirect advises that there are several ways you can do this:

Add an upgrade option or package add-on in your pre-arrival emails. This is a great reminder to guests who missed the upsell opportunity when they first booked. Plus, it is a subtle reminder strategy before they check-in and typically leads to higher conversions when they are asked again by a front desk agent. 

Need a boost in revenue? Have lots of inventory of one room type? Instead of sending another low discounted offer to generate new reservations, reach out to customers with a reservation and offer them an upgrade at a discounted rate. For example, upsell a king suite to guests already booked in a double bedded suite. Ask to upgrade to a room blocked near the pool or on the golf course. If you need a small revenue boost in a short amount of time and have limited inventory to sell, generate revenues with a one-off upgrade offer instead. 

Make sure, when you are emailing upgrade and package add-on options, that guests haven't already booked the upgrade or particular package add-on during the reservation process. The best way to do is to ensure your Email Service Provider (ESP) has a two-way interface with the property-management system. The integration allows the ESP to send dynamically generated offers, meaning the offer in the email will only display upgrades that are available to the guest based on the room that they booked and the availability of rooms to which they can upgrade. ZDirect currently offers a two-way interface with many PMS providers and has the ability to dynamically populate content offers. 

3.
Design Your Emails for the Three-Screen Approach

Everywhere you turn, people are either on their cell phones or on a tablet device. The desktop or laptop is no longer king. As hoteliers, we have to adapt to this brave new world and design emails that accommodate the three screens. 

There are several approaches to designing for three screens. Here are a few successful strategies that ZDirect has honed:

Marketing Emails - Create a simple marketing email template with little text, very little scrolling and a few links that drive directly to your website. The goal for your marketing email is for your consumers to book a reservation, so don't overload your marketing emails with heavy content and offers. That's what your website was designed to do. Create a simple, sleek designed email template that can be visually appealing and be viewed on one screen whether they are reading it on a desktop, tablet or on their phone.   

Responsive Design - If you have an email with a lot of content, for example pre stay emails or a newsletter, the Responsive Design approach is the best strategy to ensure all you content fits on a single screen.. ZDirect recently released their Automated Responsive Design Editor, making it easier for hoteliers to design for the 3 screens without complicated coding experience required! Consumers will appreciate reading loads of content in a readable size font on smaller screens that doesn't require pinching or zooming in. 

Monitor your website analytics or check with your ESP to view a Device Report to see if you are seeing improvements on your click-throughs and revenue after you've redesigned your emails for the three screens. 

4. Send an Email to Customers that Abandon the Booking Engine Cart 

Capture additional revenues by sending emails to consumers who abandon the booking engine. More and more hoteliers are turning to this solution to capture lost revenue. As long as a consumer enters the booking page and enters an email address in the designated field, a capture of that email is recorded. If the person leaves the page for whatever reason, the system can send a reminder email a few minutes or hours later with a message asking them to complete their reservation and provide a link to where they left off.  With an interface to the hotel's PMS, if the prospect abandons the booking engine and then ends up booking, an abandonment email would not be sent.

It's that easy! Ask how ZDirect has helped their clients capture lost revenue through their cart abandonment module.   

With interfaces to PMS/CRS, ZDirect's ZMail® streamlines and centralizes a hotel's electronic messaging initiative by capturing guest behavior, purchase history and preferences information. The patented Dynamic Content Engine creates individualized transactional emails; from confirmations to pre-stay promotions and post-stay thank you. Hotels can send surveys to prospects and customers, send triggered loyalty emails to their loyalty members and send targeted marketing messages based upon profile data.  For more information on how ZDirect can help grow your hotel's databases and subsequently increase revenues and improve the guest experience, visit www.ZDirect.com or call (888) 962-4548.

About Shallana Edwards

Shallana Edwards is Director of Marketing for Hallandale Beach, Fla.-based ZDirect, an Enterprise Email Service Provider (ESP) that has been pioneering Hotel Marketing Automation for the Hospitality Industry. The maintenance of a single guest profile is essential for an effective eCRM strategy. With the Dynamic Content Engine and PMS integration, ZDirect's ZMail® electronic communication platform automatically sends intelligent and personalized confirmations, pre-arrival emails and post-departure emails with guest satisfaction surveys via email, mobile communication, SMS, social networks and more. Learn about the real people behind every reservation. Let ZDirect help you convert your prospects to customers and your customers to loyal customers. Real People. Real Profiles. Real Results. 

Contact: Shallana Edwards

shallana@zdirect.com / (480) 347-9173

Contact: for media: Barb Worcester, PRpro

barbw@prproconsulting.com / (440) 930-5770

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