It is getting harder for hotels to get direct bookings.
Guests come to hotels by booking via OTA, tour operators, and by booking their accommodation on various other websites and apps, where the hotels themselves have to pay the fee.
When a guest for the first time comes to the hotel which he/she found on Booking.com, that’s a great chance and a big advantage for the hotel – the chance to provide the guest with the best possible service and leave the best possible impression on the guest so that he/she comes back again to that same hotel.
However, we don’t want for the guest to come back to the hotel by making a reservation on Booking, but to contact the hotel directly, and to make the reservation on which the hotel does not have to pay the fee.
If you want the guest to return to your hotel, it is necessary to provide them with the extraordinary service, to please them or go beyond their expectations. However, if you want them to return by using direct booking, you need to get their e-mails!
The process of obtaining the emails and creating and maintaining your email list is the initial phase of the high-quality e-mail marketing, which, as the form of internet marketing, still has the most plausible results.
E-mail marketing can even become your main weapon for greater sales. Before that, however, it is essential to collect e-mails from your guests.
You will not use these e-mails only for sending the selling messages to your ex-guests, but also for sending them some interesting information about the destinations, notifications, special discounts which you offer, and maybe greetings for birthdays and New Year. Of course, don’t do this all the time, as you can bother people and hey will eventually mark these messages as ‘spam’ so each following message will go into the spam folder of their e-mail box, or to put it more clearly – they will not see the messages.
E-mails of your ex-guests present your best relation to them, and all of them (provided that you offered them great service) are your future potential guests, and also the ambassadors who will recommend you to their family and friends.
Here is one example…
John has come to your hotel with his family for the first time and he made reservations on Booking.com, while you had to pay the fee for that. John left the hotel satisfied, and the next year, led by a force of habit, he made the reservations for the room in your hotel on Booking.com, again. He even recommended your hotel to his friend, and told him, ‘You can find the hotel on Booking.com.’
It is pretty good that John returns to the hotel, and he even became the ambassador of the hotel, but it isn’t good that the hotel still pays the fee for his each stay.
So, when John returns for his next stay in the hotel, get his e-mail. John again leaves satisfied, and the next year, one month before he makes his reservation, he will get an e-mail from you, in which is a link to the direct reservation on your website, and the discount of 5% (which is still better than the fee of 12% or more which you should pay to Booking.com). John gets the lower price, you have the lower cost per reservation.
It’s a great plan, isn’t it? But the question is…
How to get e-mails of your guests?
If you are not asking for something, you probably won’t get it!
First of all, you have to strategically think of everything and set the process and procedures of collecting the e-mails in the hotel. If you can’t do this alone, hire someone who will help you to set the system.
There are a few ways to get the e-mails of your guests, and here are just some examples:
- Ask them politely to give you an e-mail upon their departure from the hotel;
- Ask them to fill in the short questionnaire about their impressions regarding the stay in the hotel. The questionnaire should consist of few blanks, preferably just two: 1) e-mail and 2) impression about the stay;
- Ask them politely for their e-mail so as to send them the above mentioned questionnaire;
- Provide them with free Wi-Fi, and they will get the password on their e-mail if they fill it in.
The most important thing is for you to be transparent when asking the guests for the e-mail. Clearly say why do you need their e-mails, what you will send them and how often.
As time goes by, you will get better at obtaining the e-mails you need. Receptionists have to be additionally trained for this, and should not feel uncomfortable when they ask guests for e-mails.
Except for the process of collecting of the potential guests’ e-mails, it is important to collect as many e-mails as possible of the ones who has not become your guests yet, but showed the interest in your hotel (visited the website, liked the Facebook page, followed you on Instagram and so on), but I will write about that in some of the following posts.