Hotel Online  Special Report

How Can You Get Your Customers to Behave?
September 26, 2005 - I was asked the other day, “How do we know that our mailer made the customer decide to buy?” It could have been an ad in the newspaper. Perhaps that guest was planning to come back anyway. Let me share with you some of the best ways to measure the results of your marketing efforts, and why all of these are good and important.

One of the many challenges we face as marketers is influencing our past guests’ behavior. The prevailing wisdom holds that direct marketing results can only be measured in dollars. The bottom line is indisputably important! 

Since dollars come from guests behaving the way we encourage them to behave, why not look at measurement in terms of successfully influencing behavior?

You can measure it. Now what does it mean?

There are literally hundreds of things to measure: our ability to influence a past guest or meeting planner to purchase again, purchase more, refer friends, and spend more when they get to the resort. It’s not easy to measure these results. And there is always a contrary point of view to tell you why your measurements are inaccurate.

For every method of behavior influence, there are dozens of ways to measure our success or failure. It can be argued that every method is flawed in some way. That’s why I’ve found the best way to measure the results is a strategic combination of methods.

Exclusive Toll-Free Number

Assigning an exclusive toll-free number to a marketing effort is an excellent way to track responses. Here’s why: In the travel industry, inventory is limited. That means that a mailing might generate more potential sales than could be accommodated. You might have created the most successful mailing ever, one that made the phones ring non-stop, but if you’re not tracking the incoming phone calls, you’re missing an important piece of data. 

By tracking incoming calls from a unique toll-free number, you can measure and compare call activity vs. actual bookings. It can help you analyze and fine tune your marketing efforts. If you receive 30 calls and book 15 of them, all the steps of the process are working smoothly. However, if you receive 100 calls and book only 1 of them, your marketing may be doing a fantastic job, but there may be another process causing a snag. Only measuring bookings (dollars) would not have caught that.

A note of caution about toll-free number tracking. You probably have a variety of avenues into your reservations department that include phone numbers listed on your Web site, those available to travel agents, and other phone numbers. To make sure that you’re not under-representing the results of your communications, use a scientific method to determine your margin of error. Assume that the number of calls to your toll-free number was in proportion to other contact points. Add that into your results.  

Source Code Tracking

Source Code Tracking, used correctly, can yield a wealth of information about why your past guest is calling again. It can tell you which distribution channel a booking comes from and who makes the call. And it’s one of the cheapest and easiest measurement tools to implement.

Property data management system vendors have gone to great lengths to give you a variety of fields to track source of business. But this capability is only as effective as your staff’s ability to ask the right questions during the course of a phone call and a caller’s ability to recall the real reason he wants to stay with you. Confusing the issue more, your reservationists are trained to upsell. That means the caller might not buy the specific rate you advertised and so will be lost in the rate code jungle.

You could simply ask the age-old question: “How did you hear about us?” But a past guest will never reply, “I was influenced to purchase by a recent radio ad.” Plus, affluent travelers are savvy shoppers. If they get a great offer in the mail they may hold back, waiting to play it as a hole card in negotiating the best deal.

By asking for source code information up front, you can determine what triggered the call, regardless of which package your guest chooses. 

Source code tracking works well in many situations. However, as a marketer, I’m always a little uneasy making investment decisions on data collected manually, which is why it’s a good idea to use source code tracking in combination with other methods. 

The Marketing Database

A good marketing database will help you track all of the ways you are communicating with your past guests. You can see at a glance how many impressions were made on a person. But most importantly, we can determine if that person has behaved the way you hoped he would. Best of all, you’ll know how much money it cost to make him behave that way. Armed with that knowledge you can try to influence him again, but spend a little less in the process.

As you can see, each of these methods is individually insufficient. But together they paint a more complete picture of what’s really going on.

But then...

Maybe they were going to come back anyway. Perhaps. But when you’re only as good as your last P&L, you’re not going to sit around hoping for them to come back. Are you?

About David Metze:

A former travel industry, marketing executive, David has spent the last 17 years in management and marketing luxury hotels and resorts in a diverse range of markets and segments. David is now the President of Incite Response, a direct marketing agency specializing in highly personalized marketing communications. David can be reached at

About Incite Response:

Incite Response is the hospitality industry’s direct marketing department, supplying turn key direct mail and e-mail services for a wide range of hotel companies that include, Marcus Hotels, Pelican Bay at Our Lucaya, Preferred Hotels, and Sonesta Hotels among many others. 

With a sharp focus on developing and managing extremely targeted direct marketing programs, Incite Response is able to achieve higher than average returns on our client’s marketing dollars. Call us today to find out how we can generate the revenues you need to stay on top. 


David Metze

Also See: The New Print Technology that Will Change Your Direct Mail / September 2005
Creating a Marketing Success Story / August 2005
Incite Response Partners With CallMe Corp. To Give Hospitality Clients New Sales Tools / May 2003
Incite Response Introduces PressStart, First 100% Customized Online Direct Mail System / November 2003
Incite Response Introduces 'My Boomerang' Personalized Web Page Service for Hospitality Marketing / Dec 2002

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