REFRESH YOUR SALES STRATEGY WITH AUTOMATED PERSONALIZATION
Learning by example: Netflix
Everyone is familiar with the concept that labeling is one of the most important elements of successful marketing; that to convert an observer into a customer, the product or service must first catch their eye. But if that’s a given, why are so many hotels following the same tired marketing processes they’ve always used and expecting different results?
Hotels have a limited inventory which are often attached to set prices. So, a room with two beds and an ocean view may be listed as ‘Double Ocean Room’ in a property’s internal system. ‘Double Ocean Room’ is always available at the same weekday rate and the same weekend rate. It’s a time-honored (and incredibly logical!) way of organizing inventory. But it isn’t the most innovative or effective. Approaching inventory in this way can mean missed opportunities for hotels, especially when thinking about the classic conundrum of not having enough single rooms available during the week and not enough doubles during the weekend. For properties facing issues like this, experimenting with different labeling and capacity strategies can work wonders.
To reevaluate the approach, we can look at Netflix’s strategy. Granted, Netflix operates in a different industry than hospitality but its innovative and market-leading marketing approach has a lot to teach those wanting to improve their business or strategy. The constraint of limited inventory is one that also affects Netflix as a content platform, as they can only offer users a certain number of titles in their main search or category lists.
While it can’t tailor the content itself to individual users, Netflix can utilize the data it holds about the customer’s profile and preferences, as well as the title’s appearance and place in the market. Using this information, a personalized recommendation system is created with the primary intention of placing the ‘right titles in front of each of [their] members at the right time’.
What this means is that every user is given a different visual representation of a movie or series based on their personal viewing data. The intention here is both for users to feel special and catered to, while also maximizing the potential for a successful content match. Simply paying attention to the ways a product is labeled can potentially lead to a more successful product.
This is yet another way Netflix differs from traditional media offerings: we don’t have one product but over a 100 million different products with one for each of our members with personalized recommendations and personalized visuals.
Dynamic and personalized packaging can work for hoteliers too, and GauVendi knows this. Tailoring the presentation of a room or included service is a new frontier for hospitality. What better time than now to work in a smarter - and ultimately more successful - way?
Simply put, GauVendi doesn’t believe in standardization. So, the concept of a set price or even a set room should be a thing of the past. Consider your property and the rooms within it as a series of features. When broken down, these features can be targeted towards different buyers in alternate combinations. This departure from traditional targeting can be called ‘feature-based targeting’.
The features involved in a guest journey are much more than the nuts and bolts of a room. Instead, these features can encapsulate the entire experience, from planning to arrival to check-out. To more fully visualize what this feature-based approach could look like, let’s look at two guest examples.
Firstly, a young couple wanting to book a weekend away. This couple doesn’t have kids and therefore has more disposable income to spend. Rather than the standard room distinction of ‘junior suite’, this couple could instead be presented with a list of relevant features that appeal to them in particular. Highlighting the hot tub, sunset view and balcony along with accurate photographs is much more personalized and engaging than advertising that the room also has in-room cooking facilities or a desk.
Comparing this young couple to an older, retired couple can help us to understand the ways that a similar room can be packaged differently. Selling accessibility and convenience-based features could be a win for these guests. Matching them with features like a walk-in shower, along with a ground floor location that’s close to the lobby increases the chances of a potential booking.
In both examples, the hotel isn’t renovating rooms to suit individual guests and their potential needs. Instead, it’s utilizing the inventory that’s already there but packaging it appropriately. The old-school approach might be to offer both of these guest pairs the same room, to call it by the same name, and to ask the same price for it. But this might be less likely to result in a successful purchase. Instead, inventively and proactively engaging potential customers increases the likelihood that two rooms are perfectly matched to two individual couples.
Reap the rewards
When looking at the advantages of this personalized approach, one of the main aspects is higher potential revenue. But it isn’t the only advantage hotels can earn from rethinking their sales approach. Monetizing idle room assets has run-on benefits for staff and guests.
Building up a booking system that accurately matches guests to a personalized offer gives hotels the chance to bypass third party platforms, which can eat into profits. Reclaiming a property and its features like this can make a huge impact on smaller hotels, particularly as they’re the ones that know their property best. This means they’re best placed to honestly identify the features of each room.
Often staff know what their guests will ask before the question has begun, simply because they’re asked so often. Understanding the client base, and therefore being able to predict the requests or common reservations guests will have can help a property to program its booking platform. If out-of-town guests often book a late check-in on Friday for weekend stays, this can be built in as a ‘popular offer’, which presents an element of the guest journey as a customizable feature.
Of course, the other inherent aspect of this setup is that with guests being prompted to book complex reservations online directly, staff are able to free up their time. So, rather than spending time wading through tedious reservation processes, staff can engage more authentically and responsively to the guests in the hotel.
Naturally, this restructure of staff time can elevate the guest experience. When looking at a typical guest experience as a whole, starting off on the right foot with personalizing the stay often results in a more satisfied guest. When a guest has clear and accurate expectations of service and features before their stay, and those expectations are met, this can lead to improved guest reviews. It means the hotel and the guest are striving towards the same experience from the first minute.
When taking a step back from day-to-day processes and simply asking the question ‘does this work for us as well as it should?’, it’s clear that hotels can benefit from shaking up their traditional approach. Being able to see the potential benefits - both internally and externally - of personalizing the overall offering of a property, it’s clear that GauVendi’s feature-based approach is a confident step forward within the world of hospitality.
✓ Drive higher asset returns through monetization of unique and idle room features
✓Reduce operating costs through automating your reservation and room assignment processes
✓Ability to sell special requests like “connecting rooms, rooms next to each other”, fully automated without any manual work
✓Differentiate your marketing communication through unique call to actions and exclusive products
✓ Drive more direct and higher value bookings through new sales techniques powered by the first global feature-sales engine
✓ Improve your entire guest experience and guest ratings through novel behavior data points