How Hoteliers Can Foster Loyalty and Show Exclusive Rates That Even the OTAs Don’t Have

In today’s digital landscape, hoteliers struggle to attract the attention of shoppers, as well as maintain that engagement throughout the travel planning journey. With only 9% of U.S. travelers knowing what brand they want to book with prior to traveling (Think With Google), everyone is internet savvy and knows how to shop around for the best deals. Usually, a sticking point or motivator to book is to receive or redeem points, but this is troubling for the single-property boutiques that are not supported by a multi-million-dollar loyalty program like Marriott Rewards, or even upper-upscale/luxury single-properties who have enough funds to invest in their own CRM technology.

The single-property hoteliers with limited budgets need a solution that can help make their website visitors feel special and send one-to-one messaging similar to a loyalty program— without having to invest the thousands of dollars it takes to create one.

The answer? Hoteliers need to create a website functionality leveraging a “closed user group,” which allows them to capture emails and show exclusive rates that do not need to be shared with the OTAs. Showing website visitors exclusive rates they can’t find anywhere else encourages them to stop shopping around right then and there. In addition, following the email capture a hotel can build a list and send specific emails when there is a new offer or even a presale for a large campaign like Cyber Monday.

At HEBS Digital, we developed what we call our Instant Rewards Module.

How Does It Work?

In every OTA contract, it loosely states that the lowest publicly available rate must always be available to the OTA. However, what makes a rate private versus publicly available? When a user has to opt in to a page in order to gain access (aka a closed user group), it makes that rate no longer public, and therefore does not need to be shared with the OTAs.

Following the user entering their email, there is instant gratification by receiving immediate access to exclusive rates. This encourages the website visitor to stop shopping and book one of these available rates.

As an example, take a look at The Watergate Hotel’s Instant Rewards, which they call their “Inner Circle”:

What’s the Strategy? Segmented Email Lists + Exclusive Packages = Incremental Revenue

Showing rates lower than the OTAs is great, but there needs to be a strategy that brings awareness to the page, as well as the right packages in order to generate incremental revenue and bookings for the property.

Once the page is created and is easily accessible via the main navigation, a marketing strategy and evergreen campaign can be created to support the Instant Rewards feature.

Email Segmentation

Even though users receive a number of emails on a daily basis, sending emails with specific content that they want to read will increase overall email opens and bookings.

When setting up the Instant Rewards email capture, it is important to ensure that these emails are captured in a separate list. Through this list, hoteliers can begin to foster loyalty by sending emails whenever there is a new promotion, early access to major sales, and other exclusive news.

Creating Compelling Offers

When developing offers for Instant Rewards, it doesn’t mean that hoteliers need to reinvent the wheel. However, using data to determine what offers to push should be a starting point.

It could be as simple as taking the top three offers and tacking on 10% off. Alternatively, hoteliers could create two different offers based on the top packages—one catering to entry level room types, while the other caters to the higher tier.

Why is creating a great exclusive offer important? Because over 60% of U.S. travelers would consider an impulse trip based on a good hotel or flight deal (Think With Google). The offers found in Instant Rewards should be a balance of what consumers are looking for, as well as what will help support business needs.

Supporting Digital Marketing Initiatives

The success of a website and the unique functionalities it leverages depends on the mix of marketing initiatives and the strategy behind it. At the minimum, the following can be done to ensure the success of Instant Rewards:

  • Welcome Email Message: Use a welcome email and offer a $25 on-property credit for their next stay. Small perks like this can help push the consumer towards a direct booking.
  • Search Engine Marketing: For all branded campaigns, using site extensions to call out access to hidden/exclusive rates is one of the ways to drive clicks and bookings. If a user is already searching an exact property name, they are likely far enough in the booking process that they just need that one last push to book direct.
  • Google Display Network: To re-engage a user who previously visited the site, create banners highlighting Instant Rewards access. Take it a step further and create a retargeting pool specifically for those who visited the Instant Rewards pages but did not book. Retarget them and serve banners for the exclusive offers, giving them that much more of a reason to come back and book.

Here’s a case study:

To learn more about Instant Rewards, please contact HEBS Digital at success@hebsdigital.com.

Source: FS – All – Hotels – News
How Hoteliers Can Foster Loyalty and Show Exclusive Rates That Even the OTAs Don’t Have