The travel and hospitality sectors experienced major disruptions following COVID-19. Now, after a two-year slump, the industry is finally starting to pick up steam. In the coming years, hotels, airlines, restaurants, tour operators, casinos, and other organizations have many opportunities to transform customer experiences and drive greater revenues via email marketing. And for this, a platform like Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) is worth its weight in gold.
In the coming sections, we will unveil three powerful ways hospitality and travel companies can leverage SFMC to capture customer data, create customer journeys, offer personalized experiences, and ultimately, inspire more bookings and get more revenues.
Tip #1: Create AUTOMATED EMAIL JOURNEYS to Stand Out in Customers’ Inboxes
Knowledge workers spend on average 3.1 hours per day – that’s 15.5 hours per week and a staggering 20 weeks in a year – checking emails. The average worker also sends and receives 124 emails every day. Simply put, email remains a popular communication medium. If your leisure or travel brand can deliver the right email to the right person at just the right time, you can grab their attention, which can translate into more inquiries, more reservations, and even more referrals.
This message combines an upfront discount and a sense of urgency to encourage the recipient to complete their booking.
However, creating amazing, stand-out email messages starts with creating customer journeys. Every person is unique because they come from a different background, have different purchase histories, and expect different things from you. That’s why you need to build personalized customer journeys to understand them and provide them with timely information that’s relevant to them.
SFMC’s powerful Journey Builder tool can help you create customer journey maps across different stages of the customer lifecycle. With Journey Builder, you will understand your customers better so you can engage with them across the entire journey with relevant, personalized email messages. You can create multiple email journeys in Journey Builder and even automate them to reduce the need for manual work and ensure that users get the right information based on some action that they took. Automation boosts customer satisfaction and creates upsell/cross-sell opportunities. Win-win!
Make sure to build all these journeys in SFMC Journey Builder for your travel or hospitality business:
Make a great first impression and start building a strong relationship with a warm welcome email.
Booking confirmation journey
Keep customers updated about their bookings with content that’s useful and personalized rather than generic.
Engage with travelers early to get them excited about their trip and keep building trust.
Abandoned cart journey
Create abandoned cart journeys to engage with hesitant customers and encourage them to complete their payment.
Feedback and referral journeys
Creating feedback and referral journeys is a great way to show your guests that you value them and their opinions and recommendations. Use this information to improve their experiences in the future and also to improve your offerings for new guests.
Tip #2: Perform LEAD SCORING with SFMC Process Builder and Marketing Cloud Connect
A lead that’s interested in the services of your car rental company or travel agency may not always convert into a paying customer. However, by scoring each lead, you can increase your conversion rates. Simply put, more leads can become more customers with lead scoring.
Lead scoring is the process of scoring each captured lead by assigning a numerical value to them when they take some action in the sales funnel. When a lead crosses a certain number of points, you can mark them a “hot” prospect, i.e., a prospect that’s most likely to convert. Such a data-driven method will help inform your email marketing strategy so you can reach out to them with messaging that resonates with them.
Suppose a prospect browses your hotel’s website but doesn’t complete a booking, you assign them 5 points. If they fill out a form on your website, you give them another 5 points, and if they call your contact center to inquire about booking a room at your hotel in Cancun, you add another 10 points. Then, if they add the room to their cart – but you find that they have not yet paid for it and the reservation date is just 2 days away – you add 20 points to their total.
By now, the lead has scored 40 points and is now considered a hot prospect since they have crossed your threshold of 30 points. At this stage, you can email them with a personalized message encouraging them to complete their booking and make their payment.
One way to implement custom lead scoring in SFMC is via Journey Builder. When a subscriber opens one of your emails, you can initiate a journey in Journey Builder. Then use “Your Journey” to set a custom field to store a lead’s score.
If you redirect traffic from emails to customized landing pages with forms, you can test your call to action (CTA) text to optimize conversions. Plus, whenever a subscriber submits the form, a journey will be triggered and the subscriber’s profile and lead score will get updated.
Another lead scoring method is with SFMC Process Builder and Email Studio. First, create three fields on your lead and contact object called Email Opened, Email Clicked, and Score. In Process Builder, set up the criteria and immediate actions for each field. Next, create data extensions in Email Studio, and queries to find the leads that have opened and clicked on your emails. Also, schedule your queries and automate them in Automation Studio. Create a journey that’s triggered by this automation and finally, activate and test your setup.
Tip #3: Leverage 360-DEGREE CUSTOMER VIEWS to Offer Personalized Engagement and Unique Experiences
Today’s travel and hospitality customers are not satisfied with generic products and services. They don’t appreciate generic, spray-and-pray-type emails that are not specifically directed at them or at their unique needs and pain points. If anything, your customers demand personalized interactions, easy experiences, and tailored offers every time they interact with your brand.
This AirBnB email is perfectly designed for someone thinking of traveling to Lisbon but is still unsure.
With email marketing and SFMC, you can meet all these demands and deliver transformative experiences tailored to each individual traveler. These experiences will garner their loyalty and keep them coming back to your hotel, airline, or airport car rental agency. But to deliver these experiences, you need to understand customers better. Here’s where you need data – and SFMC.
SFMC gives you a 360-degree view of every customer. Tap into this goldmine of actionable information to know them and create personalized and relevant email campaigns that appeal to their hearts and minds, and encourage them to click on that “Book Now” button.
Here’s what you can do with SFMC’s 360-degree customer views and first-party data:
- Know who they are, where they come from, and where they want to go
- Understand what they are looking for from their next travel, hospitality, or leisure experience
- Help them plan their next trip based on their profile and journey that you built in SFMC
- Build and send relevant emails with tailored content, in-trip personalized offers, and special discounts
- Send re-engagement emails to encourage customers to complete a new booking
- Stay engaged with existing customers with relevant offers to increase their lifetime value
SFMC also includes numerous artificial intelligence capabilities powered by its Einstein AI engine to help you:
- Create compelling email subject lines that encourage more opens
- Generate tailored content based on insights about customer behaviors and histories
- Send relevant email messages to match a customer’s needs at every stage of their brand journey
- Optimize CTAs and send times to maximize the probability of email opens, click-throughs, and conversions.
- Understand subscriber behaviors to improve future campaigns and encourage more cross-sells and up-sells
With 360-degree customer views and Einstein, you can better understand buyer preferences, interests, behavioral intents, and travel expectations. This information will help you improve audience segmentation and create accurate customer personas to foster cohesive and personalized customer journeys. Then you can provide just-in-time, hyper-personalized experiences that will pull more travelers to your brand.
After more than two years in a slump, the travel, hospitality, and leisure sector is finally picking up some steam. Salesforce Marketing Cloud is the perfect partner for firms in this sector looking to tap into the increasingly positive sentiment around travel. This comprehensive, multi-functional platform provides a host of capabilities to introduce more people to the magic of travel and get the cash registers ringing for your business.
If you need detailed guidance about using SFMC to your advantage for your hospitality or travel company, we can help.