Defining a hotel’s digital marketing strategy
Travel industry is booming with growth and in India the demand for hotels is growing at 12% annually. The growth rate is similar across APAC and a big portion of the growth can be attributed to easily available information related to places to visit, stay and travel options. A majority of the hotel guests now come from digital channels. Customer’s expectations on the digital channels are rising and putting pressure on the hotel brands to respond quickly.
As they say, with great traffic comes greater customer service, it is important for hotel’s marketing teams to take care of customer experience on the digital channels. In a recent survey on the travel and hospitality industry, 90% users check the hotel’s website for information on the property and booking. Interestingly, 92% of the hoteliers feel that their guests expect their stay to be personalized around a set of choices they make prior to their arrival.
Delivering a great customer experience starts from understanding the uniqueness inherent to every business’s goals and KPIs.
For a hotel’s business, in order to judge the customer experience, the KPIs that needs to be tracked are –
1. Occupancy Rate (OR) – Percentage of booked inventory to the total inventory of rooms
2. Length of Stay (LOS) – Average amount of time a guest stays. Some brands call this metric as URN (Used room nights)
3. Repeat Bookings (RBs) – Total number of bookings done by guests who have stayed more than once
Translating this onto digital, additional KPIs needs to be tracked in order to completely understand the quality of customer experience on the digital channels.
4. Look to Book Ratio (LTB) – The number of times a hotel property was viewed vs the number of times it was booked
5. Number of Cross Sells – Number of times an ancillary product or service was sold along with the hotel booking
6. Bounce Rates and Time spent
Now once the KPIs are fixed, it becomes easier to understand what constitutes a good customer experience that will make the guests come back again to the digital channel or not. The marketing team can now focus on creating digital strategies around influencing user journeys and building customer persona. Being digital, a big part of any strategy is technology, be it the front ending content management systems for hotel websites and Apps or the backend booking engines. Choosing the right set of technology for your need is critical and can literally be the difference in making or breaking a great customer experience.
After meeting the table stakes of delivering a customer experience is the part where a hotel’s need to differentiate itself from the rest comes in. Personalizing the experience for hotel guests on digital is a key theme that results in delighting the visitors. Innovations specific to digital channels are the ones that clearly demarcate the leaders from the rest of the group. A lot of great hotel brands in the world are doing a lot of interesting digital innovations that help them stand out of the pack.
My favorite digital innovation in this space is the introduction of keyless by global chain Starwood Hotels and Resorts for their SPG members. Any SPG member can use Starwood’s mobile app to check in, choose their room and even unlock the door. I think it’s pretty cool!!!
Best of the best global hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood to Indian giants like TAJ and ITC hotels today are implementing successful strategies to win on digital by generating great customer experience. At Adobe, we help our customers navigate successfully in the digital age by supplying future ready technology platforms to deliver on innovative digital strategies. Reach out to me if you wish to explore digital strategy possibilities for your brand.