Marketing efforts are usually front of mind when it comes to boosting bookings, but what’s behind a good marketing strategy? In more ways than one, your property management system (PMS) is at the heart of driving reservations — not just managing them. We’re not talking about simply slashing rates when occupancy is low; the key to unlocking both new and repeat business lies in the data contained in your PMS.
In addition to providing the numbers you need to evaluate business performance, your PMS can also tell you a lot about your guests, like how many times they’ve stayed, when they tend to visit, what services they enjoy (and spend their money on), and so forth. Analysing this data gives you deeper insight that empowers you to direct marketing efforts and service more effectively.
Who Are Your Guests and Why Do They Choose You?
The most important questions your data can help answer are:
>> Who are your guests?
>> Why do they choose your property? (What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?)
Yup, those are big questions, likely with complex answers. Your guests each have different preferences, needs and spending habits so there will be more than one answer for each of the above questions. Analysing your data, however, will help you discover your most profitable customer segments and selling propositions, allowing you to focus on those that offer the most return.
Your PMS can offer valuable insights like:
>> What type of travellers you attract more (business, leisure, groups…)
>> Who your most frequent guests are and when they visit
>> When they are booking and how far in advance
>> Where they are coming from (geographical regions, booking channels)
>> Typical length of stay
>> Most profitable amenities and services (and who is consuming them)
With this information, you can greatly improve your marketing strategies and guest service, and ultimately drive new and repeat business.
>> Targeted Marketing & Guest Communications
Identifying your most profitable customer segments and your property’s USP enables you to create highly targeted and effective marketing content, delivered through the right channels (social media, your website, paid advertising, etc.), at the right time, to improve conversion.
You can also trigger personalized guest communications to individual guests based on data contained in guest profiles. From pre-stay emails to post-stay surveys to reservation reminders, targeted guest communications increase guest engagement and inspire repeat business.
>> Value-Added Packages & Services
Knowing who your guests are and what they love about your property also helps you to design value-added packages and services especially tailored to customer segments. A spa package would probably prove successful among your business guests, for example. A romantic package offered to a repeat guest in time for their anniversary is a proactive way to inspire a sale.
>> Personalized Service
Based on data contained within guest profiles, the two points above — targeted guest communications and value-added packages and services — contribute to personalized service. But there’s even more you can do to make guests feel valued and keep them coming back. Guest profiles often contain notes on a guest’s preferences and special requests, as well as information like birthdays and anniversaries. These personal details allow you to really wow your guests with service that is intuitive to individual guests’ needs. Imagine your guest has a gluten allergy… and their appreciation at finding safe chocolates or fresh fruit cups in their room instead of the standard cookies. Such thoughtful service results in lasting guest loyalty.
>> Loyalty Programs
Analysing your guest data also allows you to implement loyalty programs that actually work to motivate repeat business by truly rewarding guests. Armed with the knowledge of who your repeat customers are, and the amenities and services they like, you can align perks more closely with your guests’ preferences, whether in the form of discounted or free nights, room upgrades, complimentary meals, gift certificates, or activities and event tickets.
>> Channel Integration
Not only does PMS integration with online distribution channels (the GDS, OTAs and channel managers) provide real-time room visibility across all channels for maximized bookings, but it also enables you to automatically collect data that shows where your bookings are coming from. Knowing what proportion of reservations are coming through your various booking channels helps to optimize your distribution strategy.
>> Direct Online Bookings
Your PMS can track how far customers are progressing through the online booking process; are the majority making it all the way through to the booking confirmation page? Keeping an eye on your online booking engine’s conversion rate can help you identify areas in need of improvement. It is enormously important to ensure that your online booking engine is as user-friendly as possible on all devices to avoid losing customers part-way through the booking process.
>> Revenue Management
Whether you have a brilliant revenue manager on staff or work with an automated revenue management system, the data in your PMS is fundamental to an effective revenue management strategy that protects rate integrity. Analyzing historical pricing and occupancy data contained in your PMS, along with external data from the market and competition, is key to making smart pricing decisions that maximize revenue.
So, you see — your data is powerful stuff. It allows you to evaluate business performance and identify areas of operation that need improvement, but the real magic happens when you use your data to understand who your guests are and what they want. Armed with this knowledge, you can make smarter marketing decisions and provide more personalized service, both of which lead to more bookings, loyal guests and increased revenue.