How can hotels compete with OTA’s to drive more direct bookings? How can hotels increase guest loyalty to increase repeat bookings? How can hotels increase the length of the average booking? These are all important questions that tend to dominate the discussions around increasing hotel revenues.
Bookings are obviously the most critical revenue stream for hotels. However, if history has taught us anything, it’s that placing too much focus on the primary revenue stream often leads people to overlook smaller -- but easily attainable -- secondary revenue streams. Hotels are no exception.
Some hospitality industry leaders have recognized this, leading to a growing discussion about the opportunities of in-destination marketing. Some (myself included) see in-destination marketing as low-hanging fruit; an attainable way to improve guest satisfaction and grow ancillary revenue streams.
We’ve seen many approaches to this, from Airbnb's introduction of their local experience marketplace, to various hotel brands designing curated tours and activities for guests, to the creation of unique in-house guest experiences like the W Hotel Pool App, which enables guests to share rooms for a more affordable, social, Air BnB-style hotel stay.
At this point, I think it’s self-evident that every hotelier needs to be looking for ways to increase ancillary in-destination revenue. As a marketer, this has lead me to ask: What’s the best tool most hoteliers can implement right now to market to their guests in-destination?
Through a series of discussions with Hoteliers, it became clear that push messaging is by far the best tool for in-destination marketing and this is why.
1. It blows away the competition
The main options hotels use for in-destination marketing include the following: custom hotel apps, SMS, email, in-room TV ads, in-house printed materials, and direct employee interactions.
Only one of the above options has the same advantages as push notifications: a custom hotel app. But, as we all know apps are too expensive for most companies to build and maintain, and convincing guests to download and use them is very difficult. Push messaging is a much more realistic tool for most hotels, which is why I consider it to be a superior tool for in-destination marketing.
With regard to the other options, I don’t think specific comparisons to push notifications are necessary. The rest of this article should make it clear why push messaging is far and away the most effective tool for reaching guests with timely, attractive, marketing messages relevant to their needs.
2. Instant delivery
The timing of message delivery is key to ensuring that guests will find it useful and appealing rather than intrusive and annoying. Pushing a happy hour notification to adult leisure guests at 4pm might be just the nudge a guest needs to get them out of their room for a drink by the pool, which turns into appetizers on the patio at sunset, which turns out to be the highlight of their day. Almost no other in-destination marketing channel enables you to reach your guests with a useful, highly-relevant message at the perfect time.
3. Rich media capability
Push messaging can deliver a simple text, photo, or video message, which enables you to choose the ideal medium for delivering your message, while most of the other in-destination marketing options are limited to only one or two types of media.
4. Individual customizability
In-destination push messaging can be linked at minimum to the guest’s reservation (but ideally to their loyalty account) enabling you to customize messages based on the available information, ensuring families, business travelers, and couples all receive messages customized to their tastes and needs. Over time, view and reactive rate data can be used to refine and improve messaging to guests with different profiles.
5. High relevancy
When properly implemented by making use of the features listed above, push messages can be crafted to be highly relevant to the guests receiving them. This means not only increased ancillary revenue through up sells like happy hour drinks by the pool or reminders of the the on-site children’s activity that provides parents with a cherished hour of rest, but also a genuine improvement to the quality of your guests’ experiences.
6. High View And Reactive Rates
The timeliness and relevancy of well-crafted push messaging translates to high view and reactive rates (reactive rates are similar to click-through-rates on websites). Accengage has found the that travel-related push messages to Android devices have an 18% reaction rate.
When you consider that there are generally 2-3 opportunities to send timely, relevant messages and upsells to guests each day, it’s easy to see how quickly those high rates of reaction to push messages can add up to increases in ancillary revenue.
Skift: Branded Experiences Are Everything For Today’s Hospitality Brands
Skift: Airbnb Will Start Selling Travel Experiences Later This Year
WHotels: Introducing WPool
Accengage: Push Notification Benchmark White Paper For Apps, Websites, And Facebook Messenger