From time to time, we publish content on leading websites in the industry, to share our knowledge with as many people as possible. This article originally appeared on tnooz.
Hoteliers spend years marketing their properties online, always on the lookout for new guests. An oft neglected place to look is with your old guests. Communicating with past guests is one of the best ways to gain future business. Not only do you know that they like to travel, but they have stayed at your property before. A poll by cheapflights.com showed that 85% of surveyed travelers will vacation to the same place more than once. What does 85% of your property’s past guests look like to you?
Reaching out to past guests is a little like dating. The first conversation is usually the hardest. Here are 5 ideas you can use to “break the ice” with your past guests, and warm them up to repeat future business.
Your guests get dozens, even hundreds, of emails every day. While email is still a great marketing resource, your outreach might get better noticed if you do something unexpected. Send them a package.
You already have all the information you need. You likely captured their mailing address when they booked a room. Send them a “thank you” card for staying at your property. Send them a small gift that they will see every day to remind them of your property. It could be a magnetic refrigerator calendar with your property’s logo and contact info on it. Or, it could be a nice key chain. The thought will be appreciated, and when it comes time to vacation again, they will remember you.
Email is still an excellent way to reach guests. There are an estimated 4.5 billion email accounts in the world. Your average guest checks his or her email 15 times a day. While it is hard to get your voice heard on such a crowded platform, email is just too lucrative to ignore.
You likely already have a list of your guests’ email addresses. If you haven’t started an email newsletter for your property yet, there is no time like the present. Getting started with email is surprising affordable. I shared some tips in my article, Tools for Cheap Email Marketing.
Whether you use email or snail mail, remind them about your property when it’s vacation time. Your guests likely go on vacation around the same time every year. So, send them an email or a card about a month before their next trip. Offer them a discount, free meals, free tours, or some other perk.
It’s rare for travelers to catch-all the sights when they visit a new place. You’re in the perfect place to give your guests new ideas. With your travel reminder, include a booklet or blog post of ‘things you might have missed”. It can include some lesser-known travel spots, restaurants, or events close to your property. Give them a reason to come back (to see things they missed last time), and then give them an incentive (a discount).
Big chain hotels have used loyalty programs for years, with great success. Try one of your own. Give your “club members” or “card holders” discounts to local tour guides, restaurants, and venues. Present them thoughtful gift bags when they arrive. Give them complimentary upgrades, or meals. Find ways to give your loyalty program value, to encourage those 85% of repeat visitors to stay with you again.
Gaining real guests to follow you on social media is tricky. Finding something interesting to say a couple of times a week is more tricky. But if you play it right, social media is a powerful way to forge real relationships with your guests, which will lead to more repeat visits.
Share beautiful photos of views from your property. Share stories of your ongoing remodel, or the new hot tub you’re getting installed. Share info about upcoming local events like concerts and comedy tours. Respond to guest comments to humanize yourself, and show that you’re interested in them.
Keep working to get new guests. Connect to a channel manager to list your rooms on new marketplaces, and keep working for more direct bookings. But don’t forget about your former guests Instead, mold them into a steady source of repeat business.