It’s the first weekend after the latest easing of lockdown restrictions in the UK.
I find myself sitting with friends in a newly refurbished restaurant. It’s a buzz to be back socialising and enjoying all the delights the hospitality industry has to offer.
At least it was. Until things started going wrong.
First, the wrong drinks were served to us. Second, the right drinks were served but to a different table. Third, we were given the wrong food and finally, an hour after placing a very straightforward order, our food arrived.
I want to throw in a big caveat here before I continue. As hospitality reopens, there are, inevitably, going to be teething problems. Many businesses have been closed for the best part of a year, staff need time to get back up to speed and it can be a tricky task balancing the wants of customers with the regulations that are still in place.
As customers, diners, or guests, I believe we need to be patient and leave our sense of entitlement at the door. We’re all finding our feet again.
But it’s a two-way street and, for me, certain things - like good communication - are non-negotiable.
Our experience was tainted by poor communication, a basic lack of empathy and an all-round shoddy service. Of these three, if they’d got the communication right, the other two would naturally follow.
It’s why, as we enter what is set to be a bumper summer, communication needs to remain a top priority. Even if you’re fully booked for weeks solid, doubling down on communication - and taking the lessons the past 12 months and more have taught you - is one of the best things you can be doing.
Consumer confidence remains shaky. There’s still a great deal of uncertainty in the air and your customers will seek constant reassurance as society starts to unlock. As we all return to lives that more closely resemble our post-pandemic ones, you can give your customers the reassurance they crave with great communication; and your email marketing plays a vital role in this.
Here are three different types of email marketing campaigns you can use to build consumer confidence:
Before they visit
For hotels, accommodation providers, travel companies, and now restaurants too there are a number of pre-stay or before-visit emails you should be sending - and it’s here automated email campaigns are your best friend
To start with, make sure your guest receives a confirmation email with the details of their booking (whether that’s a stay or a table reservation), any relevant information they need to know and a thank you from you.
From here you can then begin to build the excitement and the anticipation of their visit with a series of emails which do everything from upselling your other services (think spa treatments or dinner for hotels) to simply providing them with information on everything they can see and do when they stay with you.
These types of emails are also the perfect opportunity for you to include any relevant information your customers might need in relation to how things might have changed because of COVID, for example, where they’re required to wear face masks, what happens if their booking gets cancelled and anything else that might put their minds at ease.
After they visit
The aftercare you give your customers is just as important as the attention you give them before they arrive. A simple ‘Thank you for your visit’ or ‘How did we do?’ email sent after their booking is a great way of keeping your guests engaged. It’s also the perfect opportunity to ask for feedback, ask them to leave a review or even offer them a discount on their next stay.
As I mentioned, the great thing about these emails is they can be automated and personalised so will require minimal input from you or your team - and when they harness the power of dynamic content they can really shine and create a brilliant experience for your guests both before they visit and once they’ve left.
Ongoing relationship building
If living through the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s been the importance of brands building relationships with their customers. As I’ve talked about previously, people remember the brands that were there for them when times were toughest. Don’t lose this mindset even though you might be fully booked for the summer months. Keep putting people first and use regular email campaigns to continue to delight your customers and to build their anticipation so they are eager to book with you as soon as they can.
If you’d like to find out more about how to take your email marketing to the next level, we’d love to talk to you.