1. The context
Whether you’re on a pristine beach, or on the side of the slopes, competing for guests to keep your hotel full is a constant challenge. With the hotel booking industry booming, updating your marketing process to keep up with alternatives is a no-brainer. Upgrading to today’s online marketing automation tools is a must, and in this case study we’ll show you how crucial it is – just like 24-hour room service ;).
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels when compared with others like social media, or giving away referral bonuses for hotel search sites like Kayak – often bringing an average of a 27% higher conversion rate.
After working with a less-and-less effective hosted, broadcast-based email software solution, most hotels quickly figure out that it’s time to research better email marketing and marketing automation services. Most will want a hosted solution that can be accessed by all of their team-members distributed, whether at corporate or on-site, wherever they may be. Chances are you’re looking for:
- Categorization by lists: Your hotel most likely has more than 125k contacts, so you’ll need multi-level list organization based on tags, segments, and other groups so you can carefully target specific contacts rather than blasting your whole list at once with every campaign.
- Multi-users accounts: Your team needs a tool that, no matter where employees are working, they can log in and work out of the same database. You’ll also want a hosted solution so that they could have more up-time and worry less about the expense of maintaining a hosted solution.
- Automation of email campaigns: You’ll want a solution that offers the best of marketing automation so that campaigns can be triggered and automatically sent in response to your contact’s behavior. You’ll also want to set up automated sequences of follow-up that would run on their own without any human intervention so that you and your team can save time while increasing revenue with effective email marketing.
While it’s not specific to email marketing, they were also looking for a solution that provided a CRM so they had an easy way to track their deals with room resellers like Booking.com.
Since you’ve got a lot of other high priority items, you’ll hire a technology consultant to find the best solution for you and the’ll most likely recommended ActiveCampaign because it met all your technical requirements, has all the features you need, and it is an actively developed platform that is constantly adding new features so you’ll be able to keep pace with the rapid changes in the email marketing, marketing automation, and automated sales CRM industries.
2. The campaign and ActiveCampaign features used
As you know, one of the downsides of a seasonal business such as beachside resorts is that most of your revenue will be generated during only certain months of the year (spring-summer), and other months have very little activity (autumn-winter). We’re sure you know this cycle really well after being in the resort business for years. We know that constantly brainstorming tactics you can use to keep bringing in visitors during the off-season is a challenge, so let’s go over some hypotheticals:
→ Triggering automatic campaigns during lower season times
This automation’s goal is to re-engage customers during the slow months such as January and March. This is prime time to offer a promotion to your contacts. Check it out below:
The automation has been created using two of main operators you will find in ActiveCampaign automation builder:
- a ‘current time’ stops the sequence from running until it is the appropriate month
- the ‘go to’ indicator tells the automation to jump to another point in the automation once it has reached a specific step
→ Using the current database of clients in a Hotel A to bring new customer to the Hotel B
All of your hotels locations have been collecting emails from anyone who booked a room online. When a guest books a room, or when they want to check the availibility of your rooms, you collect their data – this is very valuable, so don’t let it go to waste.
It would be wise (or effective) to continue email customers that have already booked a room… especially when you have other locations that you can offer them. You can create emails that dynamically display adverts for only those hotels customers have not yet booked. This is easy to configure using ‘tags’ and setting up emails with conditional content:
Ample data from previous stays can be used to create very targeted and personalized offers. For example, if you know that a customer booked a room for 2 adults + 2 children in the past, it makes sense to send him specific offers for families:
Very similar personalization can be done for a great variation of previous customers.
- Type of rooms (ie. normal room, suites, apartments, etc.)
- Booking dates (ie. preferences for weekdays, weekends, long holidays, national holidays, etc.)
- Length of the booking (ie. short vs long periods of stay)
- Amount spend on the first booking, not only on the room itself but also on extra activities such as guided tours, aquatic sports, etc.
An alternative email leveraging more targeted data could look like this:
Using a CRM to handle all the sales with rooms resellers
You most likely have a Room Manager who handles several new proposals every week from room reselling companies like Booking.com and Hotels.com. These portals book rooms in-bulk to get discounts and then offer them to their visitors at better prices than they could get by booking directly. As you can imagine, the availability of rooms is not always the same so this weekly process needs to be done manually. They need to discuss the proposals, terms, and percentages with any vendor, close deals, etc. It can be a comlicated and drawn out process with many people involved so a CRM solution is essential to keeping things organized and all information about a deal consolidated while being accessible to the whole team.
What are the advantages of a CRM solution versus using email as Millton Luxury has done in past? Basically, using a built-in CRM is better for an organization with a team because everyone can stay on the page. Also, it helps with automating follow-up, organizing promotional efforts, etc. So far, switching to a CRM has helped with:
1. Using automations to trigger next actions (such as pre-canned email messages)
- when, for instance, a proposal is moved into a different stage (for instance, from the ‘Interesting’ pipe of deals to the ‘Rejected’ pipe of deals) within the same pipeline. Check out this example of how we crated this structure:
2. Automate billing actions using 3rd party integrations like ZohoInvoice or Xero and link tracking. For instance, in every proposal your manager replies to they include a link for the reseller to accept their offer in just 1-click, and ActiveCampaign automates the creation of the Invoice through a 3rd party integration.
3. Integration via SMTP with their email clients to get everyone on the same page: This functionality is really helpful for sales teams because deals and proposals are often done by at least 2 people (one general manager, and the Managing Director of each one of the hotels), so having access to a same account and all the same information, helps them avoid wasting time in back-and-forth discussions like ‘did you reply back to the reseller?’, ‘did you…? Anyone in the sales process can know exactly where any deal stands by just looking into each deal and going over what has been discussed.
3. The outcome
Many teams team have seen real productivity benefits after switching to ActiveCampaign and automating their marketing and sales processes:
- Less human workforce is needed to run seasonal campaigns that require almost no new input or changes.
- Constant marketing campaigns to current and new customers entering the pipeline increase sales
- A distributed sales-team that stays in sync no matter their location