Gather Intelligence, Double Occupancy Levels

August 12, 2010

‘Intelligence Gathering’ may give off a military vibe and give you visions of men in black, skulking in the shadows but it is an activity that every hotelier should undertake. No, I am not telling you that you should dress in black, skulk around your competitor’s hotels in order to figure out their secrets to lure in guests. The intelligence gathering I am suggesting is internal and the targets are your own ‘guests’.

Every guest that is staying and will stay at your hotel property is a valuable fount of information that can help you refine your marketing strategies and tailor your marketing campaigns to yield better results. Knowing how a guest located your hotel, where he is from, why he selected your hotel over your competitors etc. will help you understand guests, behavioral patterns, motivations and trends. You can use the data collected to target and convert guests with greater accuracy.

For example, if you know that majority of guests from Russia choose your hotel because your hotel is located close to the beach, you can capitalize on this knowledge by highlighting your proximity to beaches in your marketing campaigns for Russia. Similarly, if majority of guests from India said that they selected your hotel because it is centrally located and close to tourist attractions, you can develop your marketing campaign around these two points. In short, you can use the information collected to increase your hotel’s conversion rate and occupancy levels.   

Knowing that you need to gather intelligence is not enough, you also need to know how to gather. In real life unlike a ‘Men in Black’ or ‘James Bond’ movie, you can’t go up to a guest, grab him by his shirt and demand answers. Nor do you have the time to sit down with each guest individually and engage him in a lengthy conversation to understand how he arrived and/or selected your hotel (neither does the guest). The most effective and convenient way to gather intelligence in the hospitality industry is with the aid of a feedback form. It can help you gain insights into guests' motivations and reservation patterns without disrupting his trip.

Developing a feedback form is an intricate process. You need to first figure out what are the answers you seeks before developing the questions. Here are some answers that a good feedback form should reveal:

  • Why the guest did selected your hotel over competitors? You can use this information to customize future marketing campaigns to gain maximum outputs.
  • Where is the guest from i.e. country or state? This information will help you classify guests based on origin.
  • How did the guest make his reservations – travel agent, hotel website, 3rd party website etc.? By compiling this information, you can learn which medium is the most effective and you can adjust the budget for your marketing campaigns accordingly.

A good feedback form is short, simple and uses a multiple-choice format. Do not develop a 5 page long feedback form and expect a guest to fill it, he won’t. By keeping majority of the questions multiple choice, you ensure that it is fast to fill and does not annoy the guest. Use a combination of multiple choice and straight questions to ensure that your form is concise without being too generic.

For example
How did you book accommodation at our hotel?
Travel Agent Travel Website Hotel Website Telephonic
Please list the name of the travel agent or travel website. _____________________________________

Keep in mind that a poorly designed feedback form will extract skewed responses from customers.

You can also use your feedback form to ask guests for suggestions how to improve your hotel. You can prevent future loss of business by learning about problems faced by guests and rectifying them as soon as possible. You can use this information to address guest-related grievances more competently and resolve queries and complaints more quickly.

To summarize, by gathering intelligence, you gain critical inputs and answers that you can use to develop more effective and accurate marketing campaigns. Thus, increasing occupancy levels at your hotel.

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