For many hotels, the guest experience starts from the moment the customer walks into the hotel. However, for those who truly want to help the guest to create an unforgettable stay, the guest experience definitely starts way before. Indeed, all guests should be valued from the moment they book a room, be that a direct booking or through OTA.
Pre-arrival emails are an extremely powerful tool that, if used in a smart way, can sensitively raise up guest satisfaction and build a relationship with the customer, while increasing hotel guest spending before the guest even sets foot in the hotel.
The stage between booking and arrival is one of the best times to reach out to guests, catching their attention when they are excited about their trip and therefore especially receptive to opportunities for enhancing it.
How can we fully take advantage of this opportunity and what can we offer our soon-to-be guests?
Up-selling: room upgrades at an advantageous rate is the ideal win-win situation, since it easily boosts incremental revenue, while building up a great guest experience. You can also decide to add incentives – such as “book your room upgrade prior to arrival and get €50 credit to spa treatments” – promoting at the same time other facilities of your hotel and stimulating cross-selling.
Cross-selling: offer spa services, in-room extras and transportation, as well as tickets for events. In case of special occasions – be that private as the celebration of a birthday or an anniversary, or holidays like Christmas, San Valentine or New Year’s Eve – you can also offer tailor-made packages to make the difference and customize their stay.
Online concierge: inform guests about local events and attractions. Adapt the content in order to only suggest what is relevant to the guest, on the basis on the reservation profile – families would likely appreciate knowing about kids-friendly attractions, while business travelers would no doubt like to know that you have a meeting room available in your hotel. A strong call to action is very effective, especially if you facilitate the link directing the guest straight to the page of interest or to the concierge contact, in case you have one.
Tips for effective pre-arrival emails:
- Keep it simple: use a clear layout, shorten the text – around 150 words – and make the actual booking of the services as easy as possible;
- Customize: personalize the email inserting guest reservation details such as guest name, stay dates, room type and so on; if possible sign off as an actual person;
- Automate: it allows to save time and ensures that no guest is missed;
- Optimize for different devices: be sure the email can be easily read on desktop as well as on mobile and tablet;
- Send at the right time: every target has their own booking habits but in general 3 days in advance is the best time; try to target your emails in the morning – this can be tricky if you have guests coming from different timezones;
- Record: keep track of questions or requests – upgrades, interests, services – which might be useful to enhance the customer experience during the next stay.
- Monitor: use these 3 main metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your emails
- Open ratio – How many of the guests actually open your email (it should be at least 60%)
- SPAM – How many emails are marked as spam (a guest flagging your email as spam increases the chance your emails will be classified as spam for other users as well)
- Action ratio – How many guests take action (30% can be considered a good ratio)
In few words, creating an effective pre-stay email which is actually useful for the customer and helps to increase revenue is not a simple task. However if you manage to create a winning format the results can be excellent.