Guest Engagement, Retention, And Acquisition Strategy

Closing the Loop on the Travel Journey - Action Plan to Achieve a 360-Degree Past and Future Guest Engagement, Retention, and Acquisition Strategy - By Max Starkov and Margaret Mastrogiacomo

HeBS digital

Today’s hotel planning and booking customer journey is becoming increasingly complex in this multi-device, multi-channel and multi-touch point digital landscape. In fact, according to Google, the average consumer engages in 38,983 digital micro-moments in just under two months. That’s over 38,000 digital moments in a 60-day booking window. As consumers are living their lives digitally connected throughout these digital micro-moments, when they embark on the travel planning journey, which on average, includes 19 different touchpoints before making a booking (Google research), each one of these touchpoints presents an opportunity for a hotel to build a brand connection, influence intent, and be there for every step of the journey. 

In light of this complex digital landscape, hotel marketers should engage online travel consumers throughout their complex “digital journey”, and can no longer afford to have a fragmented customer engagement and acquisition approach.

What exactly today’s typical fragmented approach look like?

One glaring example of this highly fragmented approach is keeping past guest engagement efforts (CRM) in a silo from new customer acquisition and marketing efforts. How could that be? Less than a third of hotel guests on any given night are repeat guests, while two-thirds are first-time guests. This means the reality that General Managers and DOSMs face every day is having to secure about 70% of occupancy on any given night with brand new guests that they know very little about while trying to ensure they have a pleasant and meaningful stay. Furthermore, once the property has acquired this new guest, when the guest walks out the door, there is no guarantee they will ever stay again resulting in a vicious cycle that affects the bottom line. 

Here are some stark examples of today’s fragmented approach:

  • Hotel Website: The property knows “intimately” their guests: their home address, credit card number, what they ate or how many drinks they had last night, and more. Yet, when these same guests visit the hotel website, they are treated as complete strangers.
  • Data Islands: Your property customer data lives in multiple “data islands” that do not talk to each other: PMS, CRM, CRS, Social Media, Web Analytics, Marketing Data, BI, etc. In other words, your past guest data (CRM Data) is not being utilized to engage and retain past guests, as well as target new guests and sharpen the focus and reach of your digital marketing campaigns, in order to acquire new guests that are similar to your past “best guests.”
  • RFM: Practically non-existent capabilities to identify the property’s “best guests” (High RFM Value) and engage them throughout their hotel planning and booking journey, and throughout the customer lifetime, as well as use this knowledge to acquire new “best guests”.
  • Technology & Digital Marketing Silos: The hotel uses a myriad of vendors that do not “talk to each other”, and in many cases do not even know each other: one for CRM, one for the property website, a third for SEO, a fourth for SEM, a fifth for online media, another one for social media marketing, etc. Managing digital marketing campaigns without taking into consideration who your past guests are, who are your “best” guests (Ex. highest RFM Value),  their preferences, stay and booking behavior and failing to capitalize on these insights to fuel digital marketing campaigns to reach the right guest.
  • CRM Data not “talking” to Intent Data: Knowledge from past “best” guests is not being used to identify “Marketing Personas” and target look-alike audiences thus significantly expanding the marketing reach to acquire new guests that are similar to your “best” past guests and are “in market” i.e. planning to travel to the property’s destination. 

These are just a few examples of how digital and data silos are “revenue blockers” fragmenting the direct online channel in hospitality today. It is no longer just about having a design firm build the hotel website, having another agency launch marketing initiatives, and another manage the CRM efforts. By tying everything together with a 360-degree approach, engaging, retaining, and acquiring guests throughout the customer journey is not only more efficient and more effective at driving direct bookings, but it is incomparable in growing the bond with your customers and their lifetime value. 

What is the solution?

Embrace a fully-integrated 360-degree approach that “closes the loop” on the customer travel planning journey with a seamless ecosystem that capitalizes on knowledge from past guests to acquire new guests through Smart Personalization on the hotel website, Smart Data Marketing and lookalike audiences targeting, and engaging the traveler at every touchpoint of the travel journey with personalized, meaningful messaging.

How do we do it?

To better illustrate how a fully-integrated approach works, we will review Hotel360 Technologies’

360-Degree Guest Engagement and Acquisition Technology and Marketing Platform. The SmartCMS website technology platform AND the Guest Data Management Platform (DMP) serve as the “nucleus” or the “command center” that power the hotel past/future guest engagement, retention and acquisition efforts:

  • The Smart CRM Suite (a comprehensive hotel CRM suite)
  • The Guest Acquisition Marketing Suite (a powerful guest acquisition marketing platform)

This architecture seamlessly integrates owned guest data from the Guest DMP into the property’s CRM initiatives, website content and personalization strategy, Smart Data Marketing, new guest acquisition marketing, multichannel campaigns, and full-stack digital consulting and marketing solutions to “close the loop” in a hotel’s past and future guest acquisition strategy.

Infographic - 360-Degree Guest Engagement and Acquisition Technology and Marketing Platform

Smart CRM Suite to Engage Past Guests:

The Smart CRM Suite’s primary objective is to provide a comprehensive guest engagement and retention solution, as well as create a comprehensive guest database with knowledge about the property’s past guests, their preferences, booking and stay behavior, RFM/lifetime value, brand loyalty, and more. This guest data can be utilized not only to better retain past guests and identify who are the best guests, but to acquire completely new guests that mirror your “best guest.”

Where is all of this guest data stored?

The Smart CRM Suite achieves its objective through the Guest Data Management Platform.

Guest Data Management Platform (DMP):

A cloud-based Guest Data Management Platform (DMP) that serves as the “smart” data layer incorporating past guest data extracted from the PMS, CRS and other guest data sources, and continuously updating, cleansing and enriching customer profiles to serve as the main “guest knowledge depository” for ongoing guest engagement and retention, as well as new guest acquisition efforts.

The Smart CRM Suite includes:

  • Guest Communications Manager: This functionality allows the property to manage all of the automated transactional emails and engage customers with personalized guest communications, such as pre-stay, in-stay, and post-stay emails, cancellation emails, guest surveys, and more. 
  • Guest Marketing Manager: This ongoing guest engagement and marketing platform features a guest marketing dashboard for campaign management and marketing automation that allows the property to initiate or schedule targeted and highly personalized email marketing campaigns and “drip” campaigns to smart customer lists with unlimited targeting options.
  • Loyalty/Guest Recognition Manager: This guest recognition and reward platform allows the mid-size and smaller hotel chain, luxury or boutique hotel brand or independent hotel and resort to recognize and reward repeat  guests through either a comprehensive Reward/Loyalty Program (points or perks) or through a Guest Recognition & Appreciation Program (based on number of roomnights). 

Smart Guest Acquisition Suite to Acquire New Guests:

The Smart Acquisition Suite’s main objective is to acquire new guests by capitalizing on the knowledge of past guests i.e. CRM Data. This powerful technology and marketing suite integrates the smartCMS® website technology platform and Guest DMP to fuel the Smart Personalization Engine, Smart Data Marketing, and full-stack digital consulting and marketing solutions all in one seamless ecosystem to “close the loop” in a hotel’s past and future guest engagement, retention and acquisition. 

The Smart Acquisition Suite Includes:

  • Smart Personalization Engine: Fully integrated with the Guest DMP, the Smart Personalization Engine is one of the 30+ modules of HEBS Digital’s award-winning smartCMS website technology platform, which allows hotel websites to deliver dynamically personalized content and promotions on the hotel website based on users’ past booking history, guest preferences, loyalty program affiliation, demographics, geo location, website behavior, or market segment affiliation.
  • Smart Data Marketing: Smart Data Marketing takes full advantage of “owned data” (past guest data, demographics, website data, etc.) and then layers on real-time travel planning insights and intent data points to target in-market potential guests during the travel planning process to your property’s destination. Smart Data Marketing also utilizes programmatic advertising and dynamic rate marketing (DRM).
  • Acquisition Marketing: Acquisition Marketing utilizes knowledge from past guests to target and acquire new guests through direct response and evergreen digital marketing initiatives such as SEM, SEO, GDN, online media, programmatic display, and dynamic rate marketing. Acquisition Marketing also includes seasonal and targeted multichannel campaigns with one cohesive message across channels to answer occupancy needs, target current and new segments, capitalize on events and holidays, and more. 

To learn more about Hotel360 Technologies’ 360-Degree Guest Engagement and Acquisition Technology and Marketing Platform and how the Smart CRM Suite and Smart Guest Acquisition Suite can take your digital strategy to the next level by closing the loop on customer travel planning journey, download our whitepaper at 

About HEBS Digital

Through its Smart Guest Acquisition Suite, including the smartCMS®, Smart Personalization Engine, Smart Data Marketing, and full-stack digital consulting and marketing solutions, HEBS Digital helps hoteliers drastically boost direct bookings, lower distribution costs, and increase lifetime value of guests. Founded in 2001, the firm is headquartered in New York City and has global offices in Las Vegas, London, Europe, Singapore and Auckland. A diverse client portfolio of top-tier luxury and boutique hotel chains, independent hotels, resorts and casinos, franchised properties and hotel management companies, convention centers, spas, restaurants, DMO and tourist offices across the globe are all benefiting from HEBS Digital’s direct online channel strategy and digital marketing expertise. 

Part of Hotel360 Technologies, HEBS Digital and Serenata, the most comprehensive hotel CRM platform today, are launching the hospitality industry’s first Fully-Integrated 360-Degree Guest Engagement & Acquisition Platform. 

HEBS Digital’s technology, website design and digital marketing services have won more than 400 prestigious industry awards, including World Travel Awards, HSMAI Adrian Awards, Stevie Awards (American Business Awards), Travel Weekly’s Magellan Awards, and more. 

The HEBS Digital team is comprised of thought leaders, a diverse team of experts comprised of over 33 nationalities speaking over 22 languages. Contact HEBS Digital’s consultants at 1 (800) 649-5076 (North America), +44 (0) 7730 779 213 (London), +64 (0) 9 889 8489 (Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific), +65 9005 1589 (Asia), or

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