Digitize your guests!
If you want to offer your guests the best possible service, you need to know their personal needs. Good hotel management today is able to greet all guests by name on arrival and automatically take their individual wishes into account during the entire stay. How this can be achieved for an entire destination is the subject of this article.
A one-way communication of destinations is not effective
Sender-based communication is still common practice in destination marketing. However, this type of marketing is very one-sided and is not sufficient for a sustainable guest relationship – even if the target group is segmented.
Large platforms have long shown how to deal successfully with users and guests. It is not only about sending out marketing messages, but also about establishing communication and customer loyalty.
Airbnb (an online marketplace for booking and renting accommodation) has shown how to build an active community. Host and guests are in a constant and reciprocal exchange. Loyalty is an important component. It is rewarded with recognition, badges and discounts – on both sides.
Destinations do not have digital knowledge of their guests
In most destinations, on the other hand, little effort is made to gain digital knowledge of their guests or to establish a proper relationship. Fearing a bad rating or a negative comment, many destination websites do not offer registration. As a result, there is no opportunity to rate content. Guest data often only exists in newsletter, booking and catalogue ordering systems. However, this data is not suitable for any other purpose.
The General Data Protection Regulation is an additional challenge
With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), users regained self-determination over their data. Operators of websites and Internet giants such as Facebook are faced with the challenge of obtaining data about their users while at the same time complying with the law.
Destinations must not passively counter these developments. They must seize the opportunity to collect data and build a community NOW – despite seemingly insurmountable hurdles. A digital relationship with the guests or those who might become guests is indispensable. But how do you get users to share their data?
Exchange of added value for data
For most users, registration (and thus the disclosure of personal data) is a major hurdle. If the consideration “only” consists of information, this hurdle can often not be overcome. The keyword is “added value” – and there are various possibilities.
Financial advantages are always a convincing argument for guests. Booking portals and shops show: Guest cards, sweepstakes, vouchers for pro memberships of Outdooractive or discounts for local purchases – there are no limits to your imagination.
As soon as guests book something or even order a catalogue, this contact can be used to request permission to use the data for further services. The relationship can then be expanded step by step. The more data you collect, the more individual the offers become. For example, Information about the preferences of their guests can be obtained by having their travel plans saved on a notepad.
Trust in the data-collecting platform only arises if users retain control over their data at all times. It must be possible at all times to conveniently and transparently view and revoke all consent given for the use of data on the profile page. The deletion of the entire profile must also be offered in an uncomplicated manner.
The use of the data must offer valuable service to the guests
Users may not be bombarded with advertising mails. They must be addressed with relevant (personalized) content. This will also reduce the inhibition to grant permission to use data.
How nice it would be if we as guests could experience such a service:
The internet portals I look around on during the inspiration phase already know my preferences (e.g. mountain bike, good food, 4-star accommodation, white wine). They suggest destinations that fit my individual wishes.
I quickly decide where I want to spend my holiday and book a room there. Then I receive an e-mail with the booking confirmation from the accommodation company. A link takes me to the online check-in, which is already filled out with my data. A few more details, then I am checked in.
In the next step I see the completed registration form on the screen, which I only have to confirm. For the guest card I am asked for the names of my fellow travelers, which I can enter directly.
At the end I get the recommendation to download the destination app to take all relevant holiday information offline on my smartphone. In the app I can scan the QR code of the guest card, so all services of the guest card are activated automatically and immediately after my arrival in the destination.
Very detailed guest profiles are created voluntarily and for the benefit of the guests. These enable destinations to draw a digital image of guest activities in the region. As an international platform, Outdooractive offers this service nationwide and can therefore track guest data beyond the borders of a destination. This serves as a basis for future market research and intelligent forecasts.
Science Fiction? No. Technically speaking, all this already works in reality. However, unfortunately only the very fewest destinations benefit from these advantages.
10 To Dos for a successful transformation
- Leave your comfort zone – build digital leadership
- Merge the content within one database
- Digitize your part of the world
- Open up your content for it to be distributed
- Digitize your guests by encouraging them by incentives to share their data
- Manage data instead of advertising
- Measure experience and the customer journey
- Manage growth, define the DNA of the destination and attract the right customers
- Give the residents added value by making them ambassadors
- Improve the experience on site