Nowadays, most lodging operators send confirmation emails to customers upon booking. Many properties also capitalize on their customers’ growing anticipation of their stay by sending pre-arrival emails… But how about after the guest checks out? As a lodging operator, are you sending post-stay emails to your guests?
Many of our WebRezPro customers have found that sending post-stay emails generates engagement with previous guests, whether it’s a quick reply directly to the hotel, a review, or a new Facebook fan.
Post-stay emails are an effective tool for keeping your hotel top of your guest’s mind; properties that aren’t sending post-stay emails are missing out on a great opportunity for turning customers into repeat guests and brand ambassadors.
It’s not hard to do, especially with a property management system that offers automated guest email functionality. Here are our tips for a successful post-stay email campaign.
Get Their Email Address!
You’re thinking, thank you, Captain Obvious, aren’t you? But this is just a wee reminder that if for some reason you didn’t get the guest’s email address at the time of booking — perhaps they booked through an OTA — don’t hesitate to politely ask them for it upon check-out. Telling them you would like to email them a coupon code for a discount on their next stay, or for a friend, is an offer most guests can’t refuse.
The Thank-You / Feedback-Request Email
Send a timely thank-you email to your guest, ideally within three days of the guest’s departure, saying that you enjoyed having them stay and that you hope they had a great time. Inject some personality into the message so that it doesn’t sound canned.
In the same email, mention that you would love to hear their feedback on their stay experience and invite them to write an online review. Make it easy and quick for them to do so by including a direct link to your TripAdvisor review page, for example.
In case a guest did not have a good experience, ask them to contact you directly with any negative feedback so that you can attend to it immediately, and provide a specific (eg. email@example.com) rather than generic (eg. firstname.lastname@example.org) email address, if possible.
Some properties use an automated post-stay survey tool like that from Revinate, which makes collecting feedback a breeze. Revinate offers some great tips on writing post-stay surveys.
You can also encourage guests to share their photos on social media, and let them know your social media handles or any hashtags for tagging. Or simply invite them to follow you on social media for opportunities to access special offers.
If you have a loyalty program, invite customers to join by including a link to your loyalty program information page.
Maintaining the Relationship
A successful post-stay email campaign doesn’t end after the thank-you / feedback-request email. As time goes on, targeted post-stay marketing emails are key to reminding your guests of the great experience they had at your property. However, there are some very important tips to consider if you don’t want your customers to hit “unsubscribe.”
Offer real value. Keep customers engaged by offering something of value, be it a discount for a future stay, informing them of current or upcoming promotions or events that may be of interest, sharing a recipe from your restaurant, or reminding them of their experience with a webcam shot of the fresh powder on the slopes outside your door.
Target your offers. Targeting the right offers to the right customers is key to offering real value. The information that you collect about a guest in order to personalize their experience — from the moment they make a booking and throughout their stay — should also be used to target your email campaigns. Even simple segmentation, like targeting corporate offers to business travellers, romantic packages to couples, and kids’ activities to families, results in more effective campaigns. A property management system like WebRezPro also offers the ability to set up customized email templates tied to certain rates and room types.
The data in your property management system is the foundation of personalized service and targeted communications, and can be integrated with your CRM or email marketing system to automate highly targeted email campaigns.
Time it right. There are no set rules when it comes to timing future post-stay emails; it may take some time to figure out what works best for your property. While you don’t want to annoy customers (and lose subscribers) by emailing too often, you don’t want them to forget about you either.
As a start, one or two months after check-out, you could send guests a discount code for a future stay. You could even promote different seasonal experiences by highlighting your location’s best winter attributes and packages to guests who stayed in summer, and vice versa.
Six months post-stay, you might want to check in with them again, to make sure your property remains top of mind as they plan future getaways. Remind them of their previous stay (and offer value) with a cocktail recipe from your bar, or a photo of a stunning sunset from your ocean-view pool deck. Offer that discount code again or let them know of any relevant special deals. Tell them you’d love to see them again.
A few weeks before the guest’s booking anniversary, trigger another email reminding them of their last stay and inviting them back with a special discount or free upgrade.
Personalize. As mentioned above (and mentioned here again because it’s very important), inject your brand’s personality into your emails. If you want to engage your customers, make the message personal and friendly; canned or generic emails are a big turn off.
Address the guest by name, rather than “Dear Guest.” This process can be automated through your property management system by using template keywords. Sign off from an actual staff member.
Optimize for mobile. With more than half of all emails opened on mobile devices, it’s now more important than ever before to make sure all of your email communications are mobile friendly. Constant Contact offers some good tips for creating mobile-friendly emails, like keeping it simple, using easy-to-read text, and limiting images. If you use an email marketing service like Guestfolio or Constant Contact, you’re in great hands.
Social media buttons. Social media buttons that link directly to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages make it easy for your customers to connect with and follow your property on social channels. They should be included in every email template.
“Unsubscribe” option. Always include an “unsubscribe” link in all emails. This is required by spam law.
Automate. It’s just not possible for busy hoteliers to take the time to personally write to each and every guest. That’s why property management systems like WebRezPro offer customizable email templates and automated delivery. While standard template wording is included, we recommend you take the time to word your own emails to reflect the personality of your brand, as mentioned above.
Property management systems can also be integrated with CRM and email marketing programs that take your email campaigns to the next level through automation of email list management, targeting based on guest data, and scheduling, as well as professionally designed and fully customizable templates, and results tracking.
To sum it all up, post-stay emails are a powerful customer retention tool — as long as they are relevant to the customer. To be relevant, they should be targeted to your guest and offer something of value. Remind your guests why they love your property and they’ll come back for more.