There’s no doubt about it: getting your guest’s email addresses is important. They make up an essential element of your guest files, enabling you to contact them after departure to suggest they return again soon – and, even better, not via a third-party travel agency. It’s no wonder OTAs are so reluctant to give them up.
But what if we told you that each step of the guest’s journey actually poses a great opportunity to ask for these all-important email addresses – crucially without appearing too persistent? The one thing to remember is to always justify your request.
Here are our top five pieces of advice on the matter:
1. Prior to arrival
During the booking process, certain OTAs do give you alias email addresses for your guests – which are only temporary, of course, lasting an average of four months. However, this does present a window of opportunity: we suggest you use this address to contact guests before the stay, to ask for their real email addresses. This said, the matter of doing so can be a bit delicate with regard to distributors, and strange for the guests.
Our system solves this issue: LoungeUp Emailing offers a means by which emails are automatically sent to guests prior to their stay, urging them to prepare their arrival at your establishment. This is through a questionnaire asking for their preferences, offering Check-in, etc. This method is very effective, succeeding in getting hold of one in two email addresses of guests coming from OTAs! But yes, it does mean sending an email to “firstname.lastname@example.org” just to get hold of a further email address… Ah, technology!
2 - On arrival
Your next golden opportunity, of course, is check-in, as part of your check-in form. This is an ideal moment to ask guests for their contact details, though of course they are not obligatory. Since guests know the form is an administrative requirement, your requests don’t come across as at all unreasonable, and so, more often than not, attention is paid. A nice way to go about this is to simply ask for a business card, kindly also saving the guest time. The only drawback to bear in mind here is that you might get a few professional addresses, rather than personal (meaning they are shorter-lasting, on average).
3. During the stay: through your wi-fi
Let’s face it – when arriving at the hotel, the first thing on today’s travellers’ minds is accessing the Internet. So that they can check their emails and catch up on what they’ve missed on Instagram, they come to you and ask for the Wi-Fi access. This is your opportunity. So that it can’t just be accessed by the public, your network has to be controlled. Good Wi-Fi providers should be able to make it obligatory for users to provide an email address, and ensure that these are transferred to you in simple file format. Ideally, their system should also be able to verify that the email addresses are functioning and valid. This method is great. Travellers are used to this procedure when accessing all their precious messages and emails, and don’t think twice about filling out the required fields. Asking for their email address at this stage is, then, a no-brainer – and very effective.
4. During the stay: through an e-concierge mobile app
Asking for email addresses is a lot easier on a screen than in person. Posing another opportunity, then, is your hospitality mobile app solution. A tool such as LoungeUp can be configured to demand an email address for access to the application or when guests reserve one of your hotel services, such as booking a taxi or a restaurant.
A good mobile app provides numerous opportunities, in fact – promotional offers can be made that require an identification, for instance, or access to entertainment features such as the digital kiosk can be set to require an identifiant to download a title. Guests tend to love this modules such as this, and so this method has proved to be effective.
As with before, a good provider of this mobile concierge service should make sure you receive all the information collected on their system, and should also be able to verify that email addresses given are real. Another plus: the email addresses transfer directly to your files, without need for any manual intervention.
5. Upon departure
And finally, your last shining opportunity to get these precious email addresses…departure time. The possible justifications here are numerous: details can be taken in case of anything having been left behind, or you can offer guests their bill as a PDF via email, something many actually are grateful to opt for – you just need to make sure your PMS allows it. You can of course also offer further promotions at this stage in exchange for an email address – a discount on a next stay, or even one to pass along to a friend.
It’s important, though, when guests do provide you with their email addresses, to make sure not to abuse them; for instance, we think a good number of emails wold be around four in a year.
And there you have it – not always easy, but certainly doable. The process doesn’t happen by itself, and certainly requires involvement of staff and technological tools. However, we can assure you, the effort is worth it – a direct relationship post-stay with your guests increases levels of direct reservation no end. Your staff are of course at the heart of this – so we suggest planning your strategy, and arranging perhaps a few brainstorming sessions. We also recommend that you go and read Thomas Yung’s more extensive thoughts on the topic (apologies, the article is in French…but Google Translate is great!). His advice is not to be ignored…one thing that is for certain is just how invaluable these email addresses are once you have them.
So, now that you do, what comes next? For what exactly to do with your email addresses – and also how to follow data protection regulations! – look out for the next posts.
Our clients: through our many discussions with independent hoteliers and the marketing departments of hotel chains
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