During a Closure, Utilize Your Past Guest List In These 3 Channels
- Posted by Amanda Carey
- On April 16, 2020
A temporary closure is all the excuse you need to shift both your goals and paid media budgets to emphasize brand awareness. After all, reaching new potential guests will only help your hotel conquer its transition into recovery. But without these efforts, you don’t have to start from scratch to drive direct bookings post-COVID-19. Here at Screen Pilot, we recommend that you start by tapping into your most valuable source: your past guests.
Here are our top three channels for leveraging your past guest lists and our best tips to re-engage and potentially scoop up a few bookings from these V.I.Gs (very important guests).
Email is a top channel to both maintain engagement with your hotel and drive ROAS, thanks to typically low investment and often highly engaged audiences. People have either intentionally signed up to keep in touch or have previously stayed at your hotel, meaning those who engage with your emails are more loyal than users in other channels. Take advantage of this slower and lower competition marketing cycle to revamp your strategy and reconnect with subscribers.
Put together a quick survey to get to know your guests.
- When is their birthday? What are they interested in doing during their stay? What did they like or did not like during their past stay? Save this information to segment and create personalized emails later on.
- For example, after finding out their birth date, send a special birthday offer one month before their birthday. Or if they indicated they would have loved to visit the spa the last time they stayed, follow up later with a spa specific package and details.
Share information about the hotel so guests can get to know you more. Spotlight employees or highlight not commonly known amenities/services the hotel offers.
Share what is happening in the community so guests can join in and feel like they are there. This will help generate a little wanderlust while they are sheltering at home. Helpful information to share could include:
- Local travel ordinances
- Positive ways the community is staying connected.
- For example, UWHISHUNU Phillidelphia has a blog post highlighting virtual activities around the city. Content like this can easily be altered to be included in an email.
Don’t automatically reinvent the wheel. Repurpose old blog articles to share through email. Just make sure content is tailored to fit today’s current situation.
Following basic email etiquette still applies. Be sure each of your emails includes:
- Subject line – this is the first thing people read. Keep it short, simple, and clear.
- Content – it’s ok to just have one topic per email. If you would like to include multiple sections, just be mindful of competing messages or too much information that could be distracting and cause decision paralysis.
- Clear calls to action – not all CTA need to push an offer. Consider the sensitivity of time and the topic of the email. Even a simple “Learn More” that links to the website will help to build up your remarketing lists so you can then retarget them through display and social ads.
- Always include a way for people to unsubscribe at the bottom. Not only does this make the email compliant with spam laws but it lets people opt-out who have lost interest. Unsubscriptions are a natural part of keeping a healthy email subscriber list.
- Pro tip: people are more motivated by potential loss than by gaining something. Make the CTA first-person possessive to make them feel like it’s already theirs. For example, use the CTA “Start planning my trip” instead of “Start planning your trip.”
Past guest information such as email, phone number, and addresses can be imported into Facebook to create a custom audience.* Use this audience to either retarget past guests or build a lookalike audience. These lookalike audiences are filled with users whose profiles are most similar to your past guests, making them a great pool of prospective guests to engage in preparation for your re-opening.
Develop a social advertising strategy to:
Start a conversation with past guests.
- Ask them to share their favorite memory or an image from their stay. This is an opportunity to build up a library of UGC content and quotes that can be used for organic social posts later on.
- Reminisce of the good ole days will help your hotel stay top of mind and hopefully spur a stay once travel restrictions are lifted. After a period of uncertainty, people may want to return to something that they are familiar with.
Introduce your hotel to lookalike audiences.
- Chances are this audience has not heard of your hotel, so your messaging should reflect that. What makes you unique? What will you do to take care of their health and wellbeing during their stay?
- Consider layering additional targeting to hone in on your top markets. For example, add geographical targeting options to reach those who are in your drive market, or target users based on their parental status if you are a family-focused resort.
- Keep in mind, the more specific you are, the smaller the audience will be so your cost-per-click may increase. If your audience is too narrow, your ads may not appear.
*If you upload any customer information into Facebook or any 3rd-party platform, be mindful of GDPR compliance and if it is data that you own (rather than a purchased list). You can read more about Facebook’s GDPR guidelines here.
Similar to Facebook, Google’s Customer Match offers the ability to target based on the first name, last name, email address, country, zip, and mobile device ID to match to a Google account user. From there, you can create search, display, YouTube, and Gmail ads to retarget past guests with the messaging of your choice.
Ideas for Google ads:
Since Google offers a variety of ad placements, this is the perfect opportunity to build out different messaging that will guide people through the purchasing funnel. For example, YouTube is ideal for top-level brand awareness messaging to spark interest. If you do not have video assets, take advantage of In-video Overlay Ads that appear on top of the video.
Using the same copy, re-iterate your message with display ads, which appear on websites across Google’s Display Network. One very important part to include when setting up display ads is to apply negative keywords and placements so your ads do not appear on sites that have content matching or related to COVID-19 or health-related sites and articles.
Once people have clicked through the brand awareness ads to your website, retarget them with new messaging that motivates them to book. This can be an offer or mention any flexible cancelation policies that will add reassurance.
Now that you have a few ideas to get the wheels turning, check out our tips for developing recovery messaging.