Written by: Gala Kulakova
In the run to get direct bookings, the hotels have tried many different strategies: offering competitive prices or exclusive services. The most effective strategy, however, have proved to be offering value to each guest in particular. Loyalty programs that offer personalized services based on interests and preferences of each guests have become very effective in adding the value to a guest’s stay, and now the hotels look for non-intrusive ways to obtain client’s information to fuel their loyalty programs. One solution to this challenge is implementing Pre-Checkin software that will both help you obtain personal information of your guests and enhance their holiday experience from the first steps into the hotel.
Historically, hotels heavily relied on OTAs and tour operators to make the objective occupancy rate and to bring guests to the hotels. All was well, the hotels enjoyed their partnerships with travel agencies and tour operators, and guests were happy booking package tours. However, with time, trends changed, and travellers now more than ever look for making their own choices and booking all elements of their trips on their own. Travellers are not only ready, they are willing to book a hotel directly on the website, as long as the selling conditions are similar and the booking can be done is as easily as it is done with the OTAs.
For the hoteliers, direct bookings bring massive benefits. Among them, saving on commission, improving online marketing strategy, increasing profitability and having full control over communication with the customers. With such promises from direct bookings, it’s no wonder that now more and more hotels drive their marketing efforts towards the goal of increasing the number of direct bookings on the website of the hotel.
It is clear now, increase in the rate of direct bookings would be beneficial for your hotel. But how to achieve this goal?
In order to compete with the OTAs and tour operators, your hotel must have competitive advantage. There are two ways to gain it: by offering a more economic deal or by offering more value and increasing loyalty of your customers. While it may be hard for a hotel to compete with OTAs on price bases, offering personalized offer and establishing a trustful relationship with customers would be the best way to attract travellers.
The key to adding value to your offer is knowing your customer and offering them what they need. Appealing to them emotionally is essential, and you should build a genuine connection with your potential guests by transmitting your beliefs so that your customers can relate to it. When a customer notes that a hotel brand actually cares about their experience and tries to find the best solution to make this holiday experience unforgettable especially for him, it is easy to make the decision in favour of booking directly with the hotel.
A common way to add value and to personalize your communication with your customers is to implement a loyalty program. With a loyalty program in place, you will be able to adapt your messages to the needs of particular clients, understand their preferences and to fulfil their expectations.
It’s settled then, a hotel needs a loyalty program to offer valuable and personalized services to customers and to gain competitive advantage. In order to fuel your loyalty program, you would need to create your clients database with personal information about your clients. Hoteliers should create a client database with basic contact information and more elaborate personal information about the preferences and interests of your guests.
Acquiring this personal information would open you the possibility to tailor your messages to each potential or actual client and offer them content, products and services that would satisfy their needs in particular and will wow them by the degree of personalization and the lengths your hotel goes to provide the best holiday experience to your guests. You would be able to establish long lasting relationship with your customers that are based on trust, thus assuring repeated delighted customers that
Client database with contact information, preferences and interests of your guests sounds great, but how do you obtain your client’s information? The biggest challenge for hoteliers remains in obtaining personal information and creating client databases. When working in cooperation with OTAs and tour operators, hotels normally get the bare minimum of the information about the guests, which is not enough to conduct an efficient direct communication.
The solution to obtaining the information for creating your client database can be found in a simple Pre-Checkin software. Offering an option to do pre-checkin to your guests will not only help you collect all the guest information prior to their arrival, but also will help you start building loyalty even before the guest’s stay. You would enrich your guests’ experience from the first steps at the hotel, by helping them avoid unnecessary lines at the reception, as the pre-checkin would speed up front-desk processes.
“Pre-Checkin software allows your guests to go over all regular steps of the checkin process prior to their arrival, avoiding unnecessary lines at the reception and personalizing their stay”
Pre-Checkin software allows your guests to go over all regular steps of the checkin process prior to their arrival, by only using the phone or any other device. As the software is supported on multiple devices and is integrated with the hotel’s PMS, the information of the guest will go directly to your hotels system and the reception staff will only have to pre-configure the key and give it to the guests upon their arrival.
Offering this added value to your guest is a great opportunity to obtain their personal information (with their permission and consent). Make sure you show your guests that by sharing their interests and preferences they will enhance their stay by allowing to personalize their stay and to offer additional services of interest.
Once you have obtained your guest’s information and created your client database, you will face another challenge may hinder customer loyalty. Centralized data management is essential, as it allows all hotels of the chain have the access to the client information and thus makes it possible to provide a homogeneous experience. A Customer Relationship Management – CRM software will help you manage your client database.
Let’s dive into a scenario to understand how a centralized CRM software can help your hotel.
A client stayed at one of the hotels of your chain and had an amazing experience. Next year, he decides to stay at another hotel of the chain.
In the CRM software of your hotel, you have the information about the interests of this client, and maybe even about his allergies. So, upon his arrival to the new hotel, your staff will have full information and will be able to adjust this guest’s stay to suit his needs and preferences.
On the other hand, you have the option to use CRM to give updates to your guests that would be of interest to this particular client. For example, to the guest that have specific allergies, you can send a personalized email update about changes in the menu that he would appreciate.
Such tailor-made communication will show your clients that you truly care about them and will surely help you increase loyalty and build trust.
Besides increasing loyalty, there are more benefits of centralized client database management with CRM, such as a better operations management, revenue management, and benefits to distribution departments. The importance of CRM for hotel industry has been long proved, and now CRM is the fastest growing software market in the world (Superoffice, 2018).
The hoteliers now have the opportunity to make personalized offers to their clients and to increase the number of direct bookings. Travellers seek personal touch and they value honest human communication with a hotel. They are ready to step away from intermediaries and to create the holiday experience of their dreams together with the hotel.