Question for Our Hotel Marketing Expert Panel

What has been your biggest learning in guest communication over the past 12 months?

Industry Expert Panel

Our Industry Expert Panel exists out of professionals within the hospitality & travel Industry. They have comprehensive and detailed knowledge, experience in practice or management and are forward-thinking. They are answering questions about the state of the industry. They share their insights on topics like revenue management, marketing, operations, technology and discuss the latest trends.

Colleen Buckley
Colleen BuckleyHospitality Marketing Executive

“1. Know and understand the current climate on all fronts. Do not be tone-deaf about what is happening in the world. Embrace, acknowledge, and lead with understanding and compassion as it works with your brand.

2. Engagement and Consistency. Respond to every comment, email, tweet and message promptly, which will build trust with your community.

3. Know your audience. Know what your guest is looking for or interested in and give it to them. Ask them! See what posts or emails are getting the highest likes, share, opens, etc. and learn from those.”

Reshan Jayamanne
Reshan JayamanneDigital Marketing & Sales Strategist, Bnb Optimized

“It’s important to practice “frequent lightweight touches”. You’ll probably notice that 90% of digital marketing efforts (adverts, emails, etc.) scream for attention, encouraging customers to reach for their credit card. However, how often have you ever seen an advert or piece of content that’s designed to prioritise your best interest and does NOT ask for the sale? Hardly ever?

I can already sense some of you saying “why would you want to do that?” – but here’s why:
Communication, especially at the moment, is vital. We’ve all become experts in recognising when someone is selling to us and when someone is genuinely looking out for our best interest.

Adopting frequent, lightweight touches means that you communicate with your new and existing audiences in a way that makes them feel taken care of. This is what true hospitality is all about.

One method could be to create a high-value content offer that helps your potential guests make an informed decision about staying with you when they decide to travel again. Begin by including content to pique their curiosity beyond simply making a reservation; perhaps a guide of things to do in the local area. Once they’ve expressed interest by downloading or engaging with the content, send them another helpful piece of content. Only when they’ve expressed interest once again by engaging with this new piece of content, then (and only then) should you send them an irresistible offer to book at your location so they can experience those unique local attractions.”

Nicolas Lajambe
Nicolas LajambeHead of Ecommerce, Freehand Hotels & Generator Hostels

“One major learning has been that we need to be flexible and empathetic to guests affected by the pandemic. Our communication with our guests has had to evolve throughout this crisis. In the beginning, between Spring and Summer 2020, guests primarily wanted to know about the safety measures we were taking in all of our properties. It was on the top of the list and the most important.

Then as restrictions and local rules changed, depending on the location of the hotel, our communication had to be adapted accordingly for each of our channels. We had to make sure to communicate any openings or closures at our hotels and restaurants, not only on our websites but also on all the relevant web directories, i.e., such as Google My Business, Tripadvisor, Yelp etc. Additionally, our social media accounts and travel agency listings needed to reflect the same messages and be maintained accordingly.”

Teri Friesen
Teri FriesenDirector Brand Management, Accor for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts

“It was emerging before, but it’s now an inescapable fact that customers will no longer engage with brands that don’t bring meaning to their life in some way. Also, they will be more rigorous in their decision-making about every journey; when to travel, how to travel, where to stay, but most of all *why* travel?

As we continue our inspirational content strategy, we scrutinise everything to ensure the message is completely authentic to the brand and that it adds value to our guests and our online community. We want them to choose us because they trust that everything we do will be full of care from us so that it is carefree for them.”

Jolien Alferink
Jolien AlferinkHotel Marketing Consultant, Orange Hotel Marketing

“The key to keeping, building and regaining trust with your stakeholders, employees, and customers is to be transparent and keep all communication channels open. Our top 3 tips:

1. Inform your guests about how you’re handling the situation and provide reassurance that you’ll keep them safe. Be very clear about which services and facilities are available to avoid having disappointed guests. Guests will want to find the relevant information on your website, so make sure the information is readily available without them having to contact your hotel. A great example is the Pulitzer Amsterdam who created a dedicated COVID-19 page containing all the most pertinent information, including FAQs.

2. When a guest is still in doubt and needs to speak to a member of the hotel team, be empathic and show consideration. Ensure the team is answering in the same considerate way, bearing in mind the customer’s health, financial situation, or moral perspective.

3. Be honest, relevant and ensure updates are communicated straight away to ensure transparency and trust. Fully flexible booking conditions will also help reassure potential customers.”

Amy Draheim
Amy DraheimOwner, ABD Creative

“I’ve learned to pull back the curtain more often. Our email campaigns that earned the most engagement over the last 12 months were stripped-down letters from our GMs talking through the changes at each hotel. We’re also seeing people ready and willing to travel, so painting a clear picture of what guests can expect is key.

Sure, we’re all tired of hearing about COVID, so limit it to the “need to know”, and make sure your guests are aware of the ways they can enjoy your property and destination while still feeling “safe”.”

Kaylie Holley
Kaylie HolleyFounder, Up Travel Marketing

“Speed and consistency are key when communicating with guests. Reply to every request, question, comment and review promptly. I’ve learned that outsourcing this task is a valuable investment. Taking advantage of the technology available to effectively communicate with your guest is well worth it.”

Moriya Rockman
Moriya RockmanChief of Marketing, Smiling House Luxury Global

“People are looking for much more than just a booking process. They need help with their travel plans, especially during these times where rules and regulations change frequently. They want to have a clear idea about the possibility of a refund in case travel bans are imposed or they are unable to travel. Primarily, guests want real, personal human contact, rather than just an easy instant booking process.

Our company has always worked on a request-to-book basis, as well as offering human concierge support and trip-planning advice, paying attention to the needs of guests and suggesting solutions accordingly.”