Capturing pre-stay marketing opportunities

Reach out to guests with offers as soon as they make a reservation

I’ve stayed at several hotels and resorts that did an excellent job of communicating with me before I even checked in. These properties went far beyond the standard email that confirms a reservation, provides basic property details and suggests an upgraded room. Instead, the hotels used this pre-trip period to introduce me to on-site services and amenities and to provide useful information on local attractions. I realized that these were sales messages but still appreciated the content – I felt more prepared for my visit and more connected to the hotel’s brand. 

How Palace Resorts utilizes email and social media

The Cozumel Palace resort in Cozumel, Mexico was one property that did an excellent job communicating in advance. I received an email a month before my trip describing the on-site spa services, which persuaded me to make an appointment. If I had waited until I arrived, I would have been too late to get a convenient appointment time and may have skipped the spa altogether. The email ensured the resort didn’t miss out on that extra revenue from me.

In fact, Palace Resorts, a brand with eight oceanfront properties located throughout Mexico and the Caribbean, keeps in contact with guests at several touch points prior to arrival. The process begins with a confirmation email, but doesn’t stop there. On the company’s website, a “LiveChat” tool allows guests to make inquiries in real time and receive an immediate response. Social media, particularly Facebook, is heavily utilized by the brand, both as a proactive method to share news and information, and as a reactive forum. There, guests can make special in-room requests, pose questions about on-property amenities and seek support with booking tours and activities. The company’s social media staff responds quickly and refers guests to specific staff as necessary. 

Palace Resorts is also responding to a growing number of inquiries through the Q&A section on each property’s TripAdvisor page. Questions posed on the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun, for example, include inquiries about specific room amenities, menu options, local transportation, and booking on-site activities and services.

“We’ve received pre-arrival feedback from guests that their booking decisions were influenced by our engagement on these channels,” said Michelle Catin, social media manager for Palace Resorts. “Through social media, our team directs guests to our tours department, so our guests can pre-book tours, romantic dinners and spa services prior to arrival. This is a win-win strategy, as it saves guests time while they are on property, and alleviates wait times at our Palace Vacation Planners desk.”

Ashford Castle’s approach: offer personalized services

Email is a well-utilized method of communication for Ashford Castle in Mayo, Ireland. This medium allows the property to share a greater volume of information, as well as links to online resources and attached documents. Upon booking, future guests receive a welcome message from general manager Niall Rochford that includes: a link to a map and directions to the property; the email and phone number to make special requests; links to its Facebook and Twitter pages; and a link to its newsletter subscription registration form.

The welcome email includes an attached preference form that the guest is asked to return prior to their arrival. Guests are given options for several complimentary services, such as choice of foam or feather pillow, and the opportunity to make reservations for tea and dinner on-site. They are also introduced to a range of additional fee-based services, such as: airport transportation via private car; in-room delivery of flowers, fruit, champagne, or a special occasion cake; appointments for spa treatments; and reservations for on-property activities such as falconry, archery, and clay pigeon shooting. Finally, an email address is provided for Catherine Kenny, the property’s guest services manager – an actual person, and not a nameless, faceless office.

These two companies prove the efficacy of reaching out to guests during the pre-stay window between booking and check-in. Both have created an opportunity to not only initiate a longer relationship with their customer, but also to capture sales of on-site services during the trip planning phase.

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Traci Suppa

Traci Suppa

Travel Blogger

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Last Updated: January 27, 2015