A study from Cornell University School showed that encouraging a consumer to savour an upcoming experience can heighten the enjoyment of the actual experience.
Creating this impact from anticipation or post interaction is fundamental to customer loyalty and the profitability that comes from this. To achieve this you need to plan the whole marketing journey for your recipients, focussing as much on the long term impact as the short term next action.
Whether it’s a mix of engaging content in your newsletter, a set of automated sends (e.g. welcome series), or a B2B journey pre and post webinar, what all these have in common is putting the customer experience at the heart of your planning, whilst nurturing current and future customers.
A handy example for creating this full journey for the recipient is looking at the hotel, travel and tourism industry. (However there are lessons for all sectors here!) So let’s take a look at 3 steps to maximise future revenue even when you’re currently at capacity...
- Consider the WHOLE customer journey and experience
- Always on automated sends - high impact; low marketing team resource
- Soft-sell content calendars - inspire, entertain, engage and stay front of mind
1. The full customer journey
Only communicating with guests when ‘in house’ is not enough. Guest loyalty and revenue spend is enhanced by the customer experience. This journey can be positively influenced with pre and post stay automated emails as well as ongoing nurture sends.
Your marketing strategy should embrace the idea that the true customer experience starts the moment they start to receive communications from you or book a room, tour, or other activity, and not from when they arrive at the destination.
Well executed communication with guests before, during, and after they arrive can greatly improve the quality of their experience, ultimately evolving them into returning customers and evangelists of your business.
2. Content ideas for automated sends:
Purpose: build anticipation, inform with useful details, upsell other activities
· Recommend additional hotel services. Propose dining reservations, spa treatments and room upgrades (with a discount)
· Offer travel and excursion tips showing off your insider knowledge and how you can help make these even more special by taking care of everything
· Include useful information: booking details, booked services, concierge contact, weather forecast, local bus timetable, etc
· Remind the recipient that booking direct offers the best rates
Purpose: Greet the customer, inform them of any need-to-know details
· A welcome to your hotel message that sets the tone for the stay and provides key information such as; management contact info, services and amenities, and any ‘need-to-know’ announcements
· Promote dining or events to keep your guests in the hotel to maximise spend
Purpose: Thank your guest, signpost benefits of booking direct, round off the journey
· Thank your guests for staying. Show them you appreciate their custom and value the fact that they chose you. Don’t underestimate the fact that with so much choice booking with you is not a given
· Invite them to return and remind them of the benefits of booking direct
· Ask for feedback on their stay. If the feedback is positive ask if you can share. Enabling a ‘private’ forum from a survey you are in control of allows any negative feedback to be provided and addressed rather than a more public posting on a 3rd party review site.
· Invite them back with a discount or offer. Maximizing the revenue from repeat guests offsets the cost of the offer. There will be a tipping point where after a number of stays the guest remains loyal and spends more (your true VIP’s).
3. The art of soft-sell
Just because your hotel, cruise, venue, is fully booked, doesn’t mean you should stop sending emails. Soft-sell nurturing emails will keep people engaged with your brand.
Email marketing is your opportunity to maintain your relationship with your prospects and customers. Don’t be that brand that only communicates when you want something: ‘book now!’
Longer term this approach of only sending a campaign when you need something of the customer can damage your brand perception. As the study from Binet and Field below clearly shows, brand building provides more sales growth in the long term. Done well, direct marketing (especially email) enables loyalty building in a truly customer centric approach.
So how do you create a content calendar when booking and revenue are not the primary objective? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Inform and entertain your subscribers. These sends are all about engaging with your readers and proving value beyond the stay experience itself. Why? To maintain your business as the first choice for any future stays or recommendations to friends and family.
· Expert tips e.g. Concierge / Head Chef or Gardener / Tour guide
o pack like a pro
o make the perfect picnic
o cultivate your roses / create the perfect herb patch
· Short travel itineraries to inspire the planning phase
· Inspiring stories from local businesses – get this product online
· Stories and guides from event planners
· Design trends from your wedding specialist or hotel design team
News and features
More specific about the hotel, but editorial rather than promotional
· Refurbishments and new looks
· Theme days and historical / film tie ups
· History and did you know – past guests, past events or moments in history
· Attractions and historical places in the area
· Photography – a celebration of landscape and still life
· Case-study – a day in the life of a zoo-keeper / gardener / massage therapist
· Blog promotions – repurpose your content – promote your most popular posts
Non stay events
Simple ways to enjoy what you have to offer without having to stay
· Walking guides
· Day events: yoga, afternoon tea, dog training, candle making
· Key dates in the diary (easter egg hunt, outdoor cinema, tea party, car rally etc)
· Sunset watching / star gazing
Even in times of high occupancy – silence is not the solution. Maintaining audience engagement is key to nurturing the relationship between you and your past and future guests.
If you’re adding value to a person’s inbox, whether through a delicious recipe, top travel tips, or a super handy pre-stay email with everything they need to know, the long term benefits are huge.
Ensuring that the customer’s journey is anchored throughout by your emails - welcoming them, informing them, sign-posting them to valuable content etc. will deliver a fantastic brand experience and create long term profitable loyalty.
If you’d like to find out more about email strategy for long term gain, contact us.