SMS Marketing for Hotels – Upsells and Cross-Sells
With the summer peak season fast approaching, now is the perfect time for hotels to keep in touch with their guests and take advantage of upselling and cross-selling techniques to increase revenues. In this article, we look at how to use SMS marketing to make the most of the opportunities in both.
Because of the very nature of the business, It is perhaps easier for a hotel to get a mobile number for a customer than other businesses such as retailers. But before you even consider sending that first SMS marketing message to a customer, there is one thing that you need to be absolutely sure of – that you have the customer’s permission for their number to be used for such communications. Acquiring a mobile number is one thing, but using it for the purposes of marketing is quite another. As long as you have covered this and follow the various guidelines for SMS marketing, you are good to go.
The first step for any hotel, then, is to find a way to encourage customers to give up the most closely guarded piece of personal data – the mobile number. One way to do this is to invite customers to become part of an exclusive club. This has proven to be highly effective even with customers who have yet to commit to a booking.
Going up in the world – the art of the upsell
A great way for hotels to use SMS marketing to improve profits is upsells. One example is to offer confirmed guests upgraded rooms at ‘discount’ prices – delivering on the promise you’ve already made of VIP offers. For example, a customer who has booked a standard double room might be offered an upgrade to a suite for a relatively small additional fee. If the guest is made to feel that this is a very personal offer reserved exclusively for them, then the odds are that they will accept in the majority of cases.
Not only do you increase revenue with additional sales value, you also have a customer who will feel that you have exceeded their expectations by providing them with an even better experience.
An example message might read:
“Dear Mr Jones, as a member of our VIP club we would like you to offer you this exclusive opportunity to upgrade to a suite for just £85 extra per night. Enjoy a luxury stay at a fraction of the usual price. To book now, call your personal manager David on 01902 123 123. Full T&C’s at yourhotel.com. Text STOP to 87007 to stop receiving these messages.”
So what are the key ingredients of a great message? Note the following:
- The customer is named to give an immediate personal touch
- The text reminds the customer of their ‘VIP’ status
- The customer is reminded that this is an exclusive offer just for them
- The offer entices them to enjoy luxury in exchange for a small additional payment
- The guest has a named, personal manager to make them feel even more exclusive
- Legal requirements are satisfied – opt-out, T&C’s
Despite the relatively small word count, an awful lot has been conveyed in this simple, straightforward and effective message which takes advantage of the inherent human satisfaction of ‘going up in the world’.
When it comes to upsells, timing is of the essence. They are usually first offered at the time of booking via the online platform which the guest has chosen to use. A strategy used by many hotels is to offer customers who have resisted the online upsell a chance to upgrade on arrival. However, whilst some guests will welcome the chance to upgrade, others may be more intent on getting into their room and freshening up after a long journey.
By sending an SMS a day or two before the guest travels, hotels can take advantage of another opportunity to upsell the booking at a time when the guest is much less likely to be stressed or tired. By choosing the right time of day to send the message – think lunchtime for example – you can increase the chances of getting the right response. Note that at the heart of upselling is a single key message – value.
All the small things… the art of cross-selling
Hotels do not necessarily have to offer ‘big’ incentives such as room upgrades in order to increase revenue. Offering selected extras for a small fee can also generate significant added value in the form of cross sells.
This might range from discounted gym or swimming pool passes to restaurant or bar offers such as a two-for-one on certain items. With careful design and limitations – for example, midweek only – such offers can benefit the hotel in more ways than one. Not only will guests feel that they’ve got a great deal, revenue for the relevant facility can also be increased as the majority of customers will inevitably spend in addition to the offer. An example might be a two-for-one dining promotion that excludes alcohol.
Let’s imagine that you have a hotel with full restaurant dining. A guest has booked a room for two with breakfast only from Tuesday to Thursday. You send the following message:
“Dear Mrs Johnson, would you like to avoid the crowds and dine in peace? Enjoy a range of meals from the exciting and varied evening menu in our elegant, 4-star rated restaurant for just £15/night. Visit yourhotel.com for galleries, sample menus and T&C’s. Text DINE to 87007 to book your restaurant pass now. Text STOP to 87007 to stop receiving these messages”
As well as embracing the same principles as that in the previous section, the message encourages the guest to go online in order to get a taste of the restaurant atmosphere and menu. The campaign cleverly takes advantage of the restaurant’s quiet times to offer guests an opportunity to eat in peaceful elegance.
For cross-sells, it is worth taking notice of research by Travel Tripper that indicates offering ancillary products and services during the booking process can actually be detrimental to the sale – even causing some customers to abandon their booking. Whilst companies such as airlines can capitalise on the exclusivity they have on certain routes, hotels generally have plenty of competitors ready and waiting for those who change their mind. The research also found that the success rate for cross sells at the time of booking was as little as 3%.
Far better is to offer additional extras during the pre-trip ‘buzz’ stage when the stay is imminent. A well structured and well-timed SMS message at this time is likely to incentivise the guest and appeal to their impulses.
Knowledge is power – and profit
Whether taking advantage of opportunities for upsells or cross sells, the real key lies in knowing just who your guests are and what their preferences are likely to be. If you have a honeymoon couple, then design the offers around them and their specific needs – privacy, romance and luxury for example.
A business person who is travelling at the height of the tourist season may need practical, professional solutions such as extra workspace and increased internet speeds, as well as a chance to unwind after the working day.
Taking the time to find out the nature and preferences of your guests can furnish you with all the information you need to get real value out of personalised SMS marketing campaigns.
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