Seven steps to improved hospitality marketing productivity and results

In a world of rising digital maturity, where the opportunity lies for hospitality businesses is to better engage and personalise communications that are relevant to customers’ needs and their behaviours.

The evolution of technology has given companies the ability to form one-to-one relationships with their customer base on a mass market level. 

Historically, companies have evolved from simply using campaign-based marketing, whether that’s to support new products or brands, or to drive sales in shoulder or low-demand periods.   

The world is shifting because we are in a time when we are bombarded with marketing from a plethora of digital sources, and so consumers are getting better at stripping out and disregarding unsolicited messaging and marketing to only focus on what interests them most. We fast-forward through ad breaks on television and delete emails without opening them if they look like broadcast messages that aren’t naturally appealing to us.  

This means that companies must adapt and become more relevant or else risk their marketing activity becoming unimpactful background noise and largely impotent.  

Increased success lies in using the rise in digital maturity to understand consumers better, to form more meaningful relationships and to engage them in a relevant way. It’s no longer the sole privilege of the larger businesses with sophisticated marketing departments, technology has evolved to allow smaller companies to apply the same capabilities economically.   

In its predictions for digital marketing feature earlier in the year, Forbes said, “AI and automation are already having a major impact on the world of digital marketing. They’re helping us save time and resources—through tools like chatbots and automated email campaigns. And they’re helping us enhance targeting and personalisation efforts—machine learning algorithms can analyze customer data to help us understand our audience’s interests, behaviors and preferences, and we can use that information to deliver more relevant and personalised experiences…  

We’ll probably also see more marketers focus on building first-party relationships with customers. This can be done through email marketing, social media or other channels that allow us to communicate directly with customers and collect data with their explicit consent. By building trust and providing value to customers, we can earn their loyalty and create a more personal and meaningful connection with them.” 

At the core, this is all about building a single view of customers.  

This single view of customers is what can be leveraged to power all forms of communication along the customer journey, whether it’s direct marketing, social media, website customer query management, responding to consumer actions such as bookings, checking in, completing a satisfaction form etc.   

The single source of customer data needs to both ingest the behaviour of customers and then to use that insight in order to be able to engage in a more relevant way with each consumer. After that, there are a series of steps and evolutions to grow over time. 

Critical success factors: 

  1. Implementing a customer data platform that draws information from core operating systems about customer brand engagements. Businesses must have a single source of customer information which needs to include not just the profile of who they are so that they can be reached. It must include their history of transactions and engagement with the company, how frequently and recently they have purchased, as well as their value, preferences, and sentiment. This needs to be collated in one single place to create a base from which all marketing activity is powered. Without this foundational critical success factor, it is not possible to achieve one-to-one marketing. 
  2. Analytics to be able to segment and deride insights about customers. This means identifying groups of customers with common needs and behaviours and the value associated in order to target and create relevant audiences to communicate with. 
  3. A capability to manage customer relationships – a CRM system. To enable leveraging the insights from the analytics which overlays the customer data platform and to translate that into action instruction, i.e., what communication needs to happen with this customer next, and when and where that needs to take place.  
  4. Marketing management automation. There are two components here, firstly being able to build out the core elements of the business or brand that are the priority messages for promotion; and secondly, automating the triggers and actions to engage and communicate with guests through either digital channels or frontline employee staff in real-time. This is critical when moving from campaign-based to one-to-one based marketing because whether dealing with hundreds or hundreds of thousands of customers, there are too many possible variables for humans to successfully manage. 
  5. Related to this is content management. Historically, this was the preserve of websites, but the content management system (CMS) now needs to encompass all digital content platforms and points of sale. Content management needs to be built independently of any brand touchpoint or marketing system because it is going to produce, process, localise and publish all the content that marketing needs to action. 
  6. Leveraging the information in the customer data platform to both acquire lookalikes and to retarget existing customers broadens the opportunity for engagement. Using the aforementioned analysis and segmentation of the data makes it possible to find similarities and boost marketing efficiency.
  7. Better shape demand to sell what the business wants to offer. Moving from a campaign-based marketing model where there is a simplistic understanding of the whole company to a one-to-one campaign-based approach requires bringing revenue management together with marketing management to shape the demands that the business wants to sell. Then, the more granular understanding of the business needs is overlayed with the consumers’ wants, needs and behaviours to better matchmake and target individual consumers at the right time, in the right way to buy the right things.  

Today, customer information is buried in many different point solutions and operational systems. The problem lies when there is no single view of that information. Without it, one-to-one marketing isn’t possible.   

If your business has few or even none of these capabilities in place and this seems like an overwhelmingly long laundry list of actions and investments, the good news is that it’s not an all or nothing process. Once the fundamental foundation of the customer data platform is in place then the journey can begin and it’s about prioritising and evolving, phasing and sequencing the other capabilities based on where your business is going to see the best returns and what foundational technology it has in place.  

 But starting the journey is imperative. This evolution is critical. If we were to compare to past events, then it’s on a par with the investments made in central reservation systems and revenue management in the 1990s, or in e-commerce in the 2000s, and in CRM and digital marketing in the 2010s. But these are all fragmented systems. In the next decade, hotel businesses should be focused on bringing these capabilities together around a single source of truth for customers, and evolving and maturing the critical success factors to see results. 

PACE Dimensions is expert in customer targeting and acquisition, customer relationship management, digital marketing management, omni channel/integrated marketing planning and management and the capabilities needed to implement them successfully. Find out more about how PACE Dimensions can help your business to excel at 

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