In Newsletter #36: Embrace hotel's history of innovation | The guest experience is your best marketing | Using SMS to market to your guests before and during their stay.
Evolution and innovation is at the heart of this industry, and we loved the Condé Nast Traveler piece (below) that gives us a nice reminder of hotels’ rich history. Great read. And, since the article points to chain hotels using beta sites to figure out how they are going to compete with the sharing economy, I have to highlight one of our own hoteliers, Robert Holland, whose Bermondsey Hotel has recently embraced the Airbnb movement by offering the hotel's services, such as cleaning and key delivery, to local hosts that are renting out their apartments. It’s a really inventive way to embrace the new and augment the hotel offering. You can read more about it here.
We’re highlighting two great pieces below that continue this theme of innovation - as it relates to marketing. When it comes to your marketing today, your guests have the most important voice. If you think back to ten years ago, businesses sold to consumers and as such, marketing really controlled the message. But today, with the likes of Instagram and Facebook and especially TripAdvisor, your consumers are selling to other consumers. So, building a great experience is key to your success and SMS is one nice new tool to help. However, it’s also worth noting that sharing these experiences is just as important and I am constantly impressed by the work of Flip.to - whose technology turns your guests into your brand advocates by sharing their photos. Really brilliant.
Lastly, I have been invited to speak this Friday at 11.30am EST on guest engagement programs going into the '17 budget for what is the 69th live video show of “This Week in Hospitality Digital Marketing.” Please join thousands of your peers in what is sure to be a great laugh (and hopefully some insightful commentary).
See you Friday,
- Alex Shashou
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK'S NEWS...
Embrace the evolution of hotels over the last two centuries
Condé Nast Traveler | From Grand Hotel to Microhotel: How Your Stay Has Changed in 200 Years
Why it matters: Since the 1810s, when the first “Grand Hotel” opened in London (thanks to rise of train and ship transport), hospitality has seen a lot of exciting innovation. Close to our hearts is the boutique hotel movement that Condé Nast Traveler fairly attributes to Ian Schrager, with his 1984 opening of the Morgans Hotel in New York. This wave, stronger than ever, has caused many hotel chains to look within and create their own boutique offering. You only have to look as far as IHG’s acquisition of Kimpton to see the appeal of the boutique segment to the industry.
Now, as we find ourselves a hospitality epoc in many ways defined by the sharing economy, hotel chains are still under pressure to reinvent themselves and find their unique value proposition. This illuminating article ends by highlighting the recent “beta” efforts by hotel chains to test what guests might enjoy (and they have our praise here -- as a software company, we applaud their innovation). But perhaps this article could also have highlighted the nascent Lifestyle Hotel movement, which is also inspired by the sharing economy. Equinox Hotels, Two Roads and Freehand Hotels (by Sydell) are all delivering on lifestyle - the next evolution in the unique hotel experience. Travelers want an authentic experience that fits their travel persona, a tailor-made and niche journey that breaks away from the common mold. Just like the rise of niche brewers around the country, these hotel companies and many others are ones to look out for as the next category leaders.
The guest experience is your best marketing
4Hoteliers | The Customer Experience is Your Best Marketing
Wall Street Journal | For Hotels, Online Reviews Really Matter to the Bottom Line
Why it matters: “The customer experience is your best marketing,” says customer service guru Shep Hyken. His advice is resonant to any industry, but particularly compelling in the context of hospitality: online reviews - testaments of the guest experience - have documented sway in increasing demand for hotels and the prices hotels can command. This holds especially true for the luxury and independent segments of the market, which are the most sensitive to online ratings.
“Create an amazing service experience that gets customers to not only come back, but to also share that experience with their friends, colleagues and family members. ...It’s about engagement, interaction, and relationship building…,” Shep writes. Indeed, as hotels are challenged to differentiate themselves to prospective guests booking through the OTAs, it makes good sense for hotels to focus on the guest’s in-stay experience to help with differentiation in word of mouth marketing and on the review sites. We’ve written a lot about ways to improve your guests’ in-stay experience through service delivery. Here’s four ways luxury hotels can use technology to provide better customer service. And here’s how focusing on service explicitly can improve your online reviews.
Why won't you text me back?!
4Hoteliers | Beginners Guide to SMS Marketing [Infographic]
Why it matters: Messaging is exploding as an engagement channel at hotels, we wrote recently. There’s many reasons for this. Chief among them is that messaging is a particularly attractive means of communications for both hotel guests and staff. Guests - especially younger generations - are increasingly inclined to message with businesses, while hotels know messaging will yield immediate and almost guaranteed interaction -- text messages have a 98% open rate, and 90% of messages are read within 3 minutes. In this “Beginner’s Guide to SMS Marketing,” the author details ways for hotels to leverage the benefits of SMS messaging.
While most of the author’s advice applies to marketing in the traditional sense -- i.e. to prospective guests -- as Shep Hyken advises in the piece above, marketing isn’t just about enticing guests to your property. It’s also - and Shep would argue primarily - about your guest’s experience on property. At ALICE, we encourage you to think about ways you can provide messaging that will improve guest satisfaction. While not all guests will opt to text, providing guests the option to text gives more control to guests over their own experience, and is sure to delight those that do decide to engage with your hotel that way. It’s through this positive feedback loop that Shep and the Wall Street Journal article detail that messaging will prove a most effective form of marketing, when good reviews and increased bookings follow.
- Examine Technology's Impact on the Guest Experience Hotels Magazine
- "Let's Ignore Mobile - What's The Worst That Can Happen?" Hotel Speak
- Expedia vs Airbnb vs NYC EyeforTravel
- Today's Customers Demand Customer Service on Their Terms Forbes