Keep it Simpler

A simple way to organize guest data for sending promotions

"I would like to send marketing promotions to previous guests. I need a simple list of customers based on criteria such as interests, travel itinerary, and period of stay."

What is the simplest way for us to achieve this goal?

This is the solution we designed for 1Day, I hope to hear if you agree with this approach, and if you feel there is something missing.

It includes three components:

1 - Need a friction-less way to create contacts

Before we can send promotions, we need to have lists of people whom we will send those promotions to. They are called contacts.

A contact in 1Day is anyone who the hotel wants to keep track of. They are normally guests, but could be anybody such as travel agents, referral partners, etc.

Shouldn't all guests be considered as contacts right away? Not necessarily because of the various ways guests enter the reservation system. And many online travel agencies (OTAs) will mask contact information from the hotel. More on that later.

Normally, managing contacts falls into the realm of customer relationship management systems (CRMs). However, if all you want is the goal above, deploying a full-blown CRM might be too much effort for what it's worth.

More importantly, having to apply the usual CRM approach would require additional steps into the booking process that could dis-incentivise staff from using the system altogether. We need an approach that blends seamlessly into the booking process.

For 1Day, this means staying out of the way of the main reservation flow, and only coming up when users actively need to create contacts. So users can choose to create a contact when and if they feel it is necessary, not as a required part of making a booking.

1Day makes it very easy to create contacts by clicking on Link to Contact in the booking details card.

There are also ways to automatically create contacts from bookings. And this varies based on where the booking came from.

If the booking is a direct booking, the system can optionally create a matching contact automatically. However, if the booking came from OTAs, the system will check for an existing contact and attempt to link the booking, it will not create a new contact automatically.

This is the calculation we made because there is no consistent way to identify a unique guest across the various OTAs. We use the email address as the primary identifier for contacts, and OTAs usually do not consistently send the full email address of guests to the hotel. In most cases, OTAs would mask the email address, i.e. "xxx@_______.com".

If we automatically create contacts from bookings coming from OTAs, we would end-up with a lot of duplicate contacts that would need to be cleaned-up afterwards. A chore that nobody wants, and a chore that is common in many full-blown CRMs deployments.

So, to achieve friction-less creation of contacts, we need to have a quick and easy way to add contacts (2-3 clicks at most), and avoid tedious data cleanup tasks for staff. This is achieved by handling direct bookings and bookings from OTAs differently.

2 - Need a quick way to add tags

Once we have contacts in the system, we think the most flexible way to organize them is thru tags.

This allows each hotel to create a categorization system that is unique to each property. The tags can be assigned a color for easy reference, and can be entered into a contact within 1-2 clicks.

Some uses of tags are:

  • Guest meal preferences. Examples are Vegan, Keto, Decaf
  • Type of itinerary. Examples are Business-travel, Tourist, Wedding
  • Guest durations. Examples are Frequent-guest, Long-stay, Short-stay
  • Group size. Examples are Group-travel, Solo-travel
  • Guest issues or feedback. Examples are 5stars, Issue

These tags, combined with common data points such as date of arrival and duration, would provide the hotel with a simple but flexible system to organize contacts for later retrieval.

For more advanced needs, it is also possible to add custom fields for each contact. Custom fields provide more structure to the types of information that we track. However, the simplest solution to the main goal above can be achieved without creating custom fields.

3 - Need a quick way to filter contacts

After the easy creation of contacts, and the flexible categorization of those contacts via tags, we can now output lists based on various filters.

Some examples could show:

  • List of contacts who's birth month is _______ who you might like to greet.
  • List of contacts with 5Star ratings who you might like to invite for a referral program.
  • List of contacts on business-travel for the months of ________ who might be interested for special deals.
  • List of contacts who are frequent-stay and are interested with culinary who might like an event coming up.
  • List of contacts who are interested with adventure experiences who might like a tour package.
  • List of contacts who had a wedding related trip for the months of _______ who might like to relive the moments.
  • List of contacts who have had an issue and you'd like to follow-up with.

There are countless combinations we can try. And as with the other sections, the system should produce the data quickly within 2-3 clicks.

These lists will be uploaded to a marketing tool such as Mailchimp or Sendinblue. These tools then take care of the actual sending of promotions, which they are very good at.

We plan to build integrations with these tools for even faster uploads in the future.

An interesting side-effect to this is, the more you do it, the more you'll get to know your guests after their stay. These outreach programs are a good way to keep conversing with guests, and they might also help us discover more ways to keep them coming back.

In Summary

We can achieve a simple way to organize guests for sending promotions by the following:

First, have an easy way to create contacts that wouldn't require tedious data clean-up afterwards. This would encourage users to actually do it. Second, provide a flexible way to categorize contacts via tags. Again, it must be very easy to do, or users won't do it. Third, provide a quick way to filter the contacts based on those tags, and to experiment with those tags.

Please let us know if you agree with this approach and if you have any ideas on how to do it differently?

November 7, 2020
Posted by 
Ian
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Copyright 2020
1Day Group Ltd.
Auckland, New Zealand
Keep it Simpler.