News | Distribution | OnlineHow hotels can hit the next wave of personalized and dynamic contentThis article was originally published onBy Viewpoints | October 17, 2014 With one-to-one hotel marketing and pricing no longer just a concept, how can the industry implement it?Since there are so many options and opportunities to target website users based on geo-targeting, customer segment affiliation, language preference, user behavior, or loyalty program affiliation, hoteliers are justifiably confused as to how and where to start with content personalization.NB: This is a viewpoint by Max Starkov, CEO at HeBS Digital, a marketing consultancy.We have developed a robust action plan that has been proven to maximize revenues and boost conversions on the property website.Action Step 1: Business analysis and CMS technology upgradeThe first step for any hotelier is to “dissect” its customer base and come up with a business analysis as to which website visitors a) would benefit most from personalized, relevant content delivery and b) are most likely to book an offer personalized to their preferences or situation.This may include identifying the most important domestic and foreign feeder markets; customer segment affiliations (leisure and business travelers), etc.Action Step 2: Go after the low hanging fruitTargeting the property’s key feeder markets is of utmost importance to any hotel marketer. Travelers residing in different feeder markets exhibit different travel planning and purchasing behavior.For example, at a Florida resort, the summer months are dominated by drive-in guests from in-state or neighboring states as well as foreign vacationers.Winter months are dominated by fly-in guests from the Northeast, Latin America and Canada. Dynamic content personalization based on geo-targeting is the logical first step for this resort, and will benefit the property in the form of higher conversions and incremental revenues.What type of personalized content works best?Over the years, we have found that personalized visual and promotional content works best for geo-targeting.Examples include: Custom-designed opening promo slide in the website’s main image window served to a specific user group based on their location/IP address. Example: opening slide promoting a ‘Florida State Resident Special’ to users who reside in Florida.Customized marketing message in the main image windowCustomized Featured Special promo tiles on the Home PageContent creation could be a very involved and expensive process: From new photography and designing a new page layout (Ex. corporate vs. leisure travel Home page design), to copywriting and landing page creation, etc. Therefore we suggest “keeping it simple” in the initial phase and launching the geo-targeting campaign with personalized opening promo slides, marketing messages and promo tiles.Whom to target?Domestic feeder markets: In-state residents: Offer them a “State Resident” special. For example, for many years Florida hotels have been offering a “Florida Resident Special,” typically 10% below BAR.Main drive-in out-of-state feeder markets: Offer an “Out-of-State Courtesy Special,” with free parking or fuel credit if they stay more than a single night.Main fly-in feeder markets: Offer free breakfast, advance purchase rates, third night at 50% off, weekend extensions at a reduced rate, etc. Example of Dynamic Content Personalization campaign for a New York City-based hotel, targeting visitors from Los Angeles:Foreign feeder markets: Offer special long-stay promotions: “Stay 5 nights, Get the 6th night free,” suite packages or upgrades to suites, etc.Serve foreign language content (if available on the website) based on the default language preference in the user’s browser.Action Step 3: Expand the target audiences and personalization techniquesOnce geo-targeting is in place, expand the dynamic content personalization to new audiences while utilizing more elaborate content personalization techniques and approaches, such as: customized design versions of the property Home page; personalized content pages; specialized landing or promotional pages; foreign language versions or summaries of the website, etc.Here are just a few examples of personalization techniques targeting various important audiences...Reward program membersIf you have a loyalty program in place, start targeting loyalty program members with member-only: Customized design theme of the Home PageOpening slides and visualsCustomized content and landing pagesPromotions, packages and special offersUpgrade offers (i.e. suite upgrade)Dining, spa, golf, etc. promotions What about users who are not members of the loyalty program? Target them with “Become a Loyalty Member” textual, visual and promotional content, featuring the benefits of the property’s loyalty program.Consider offering a sign-up bonus in the form of a 10% discount off their first booking.Utilizing the powerful tool of content personalization, perhaps now is the time for a property without a loyalty program in place to create a simple “Guest Appreciation Program” offering rewards to repeat customers.Examples: Free Wi-Fi or breakfast with your second stay; free suite upgrade with 5 roomnights or a free night with 10 roomnights.Return visitors vs. New visitors to the hotel websiteServing personalized content to return visitors vs. new visitors to the hotel website is a logical expansion of the property’s dynamic content personalization strategy.For example, for a multi-property luxury hotel client, we tag every visitor to their brand website to determine first-time visitors, return visitors, last-time visit sessions, visit duration, and on-site pathing behavior. This allows us to target new and return visitors to the website with personalized textual, visual and promotional content.Return Visitors:We mark any return visitor as "Returning Visitor" and serve up: Personalized opening slide in the main image window with "Welcome Back" messaging when they come back to the website.Special promotion for return visitors (if such promotion available).Personalized visuals on the site aimed to broaden the knowledge about the property’s services and amenities. We update tagging information if the user: visits a specific property page, to know which property the user last visited. This gives us the ability to display more personalized “Welcome Back” messages, directly related to a property. We can also pre-select this hotel in the booking widget the next time they visit the website. When the user initiates a booking and clicks on the “Check Availability” button, we also store: Selected property, check-in and check-out dates, promo code/special offers code selected, etc. This allows us to dynamically adjust the reservation widget with this information when the user comes back to the website, as well as serve relevant promotions applicable for the selected dates. New Visitors: Serve a personalized opening promo slide on the website with customized marketing messages.“Bribe” new visitors to the website with a specialized 10% off promotion, since acquiring new visitors is more difficult and expensive than retaining existing visitors.Business vs. Leisure travelersAnother targeting opportunity is serving differentiated content to business vs. leisure travelers. This type of content personalization on the website helps address a gap in the business traveler’s needs and position the property as more business traveler-friendly in the eyes of your corporate guests. At the same time, this approach allows you to present your property as a leisure travel-friendly hotel in front of your weekend, family and senior travel audiences.In the case of a primarily leisure hotel trying to expand its corporate clientele, here are just a few examples of user-specific content that can be served dynamically on the site: Different, more business-like look and feel or color schema of the Home Page or the whole website.Different photo rotation on the Home Page e.g. photos with corporate travel theme vs. leisure travel theme (remaining visitors on the site will see the regular photos).Promotional opening slide with a concrete promotion targeting business travelers (e.g. Free Wi-Fi; Free Parking; Extend your stay over the weekend at 50% off, etc.).Opening paragraph on the home page customized for business travelers.Business travel special offers in the Featured Special promo tiles on the website.Reservation Widget: dates defaulted to a typical business travel booking window and day of arrival.Booking engine results (after dates selected) featuring business class accommodations such as executive rooms and suites as well as any business travel specials and promotions.Reservation abandonment and recovery programs featuring business traveler-related messaging and promotions. Naturally, reverse content personalization will apply to targeting leisure travelers, weekenders, family travelers and seniors for any business hotel aiming to increase its share of the leisure market.Real-time one-to-one marketing and pricing is the next logical stepInterfacing the website CMS’s Personalization Engine (such as HeBS Digital’s Smart Personalization Engine) with the property eCRM platform, PMS or RMS (Revenue Management System) opens up huge opportunities for next-gen personalized pricing and one-to-one-marketing. The property could then personalize content for:Past Bookers vs. Lookers: Based on the booking history of the website user, the property can serve customized promotions and pricing to each of the two categories. For example, the property may want to “bribe” a ‘Looker’ with a first-time booking discount or offer an upgrade to a ‘Past Booker.’ Room Bookers vs. Suite Bookers: No property would like to see their precious suite guests “downsize” to mere room accommodations. Based on the booking history, the property can now offer suite promotions to ‘Suite Bookers,’ and offer ‘Room Bookers’ promotions for room accommodations as well as promotions for suite upgrades. One-to-One Pricing Based on Real-Time Occupancy Needs:Interfacing the CMS’s Personalization Engine with the property’s RMS (Revenue Management System) allows real-time targeting and one-to-one pricing based on real-time occupancy needs. In this scenario, the sky is the limit for true dynamic pricing opportunities and upsells. For example: A user is searching for dates for which the property needs major help, and the website serves a steep discount visible only to this particular user.A user is searching to stay during compressed dates, and the property pushes a suite rate or a suite upgrade to alleviate the constricted supply.Business travelers and flexible leisure travelers are offered suite upgrades and weekend extensions as well as alternative dates.ConclusionsThis article is not describing futuristic dynamic content personalization opportunities. This technology exists and is already generating serious revenues for a number of our hospitality customers, including regional hotel chains, luxury independent hotels, family resorts, casinos, and more.Choose your next website design and development vendor wisely. Ask tough questions about their CMS technology, and make sure they equip the new property website with a Content Management System with personalization engine capabilities. Avoid vendors offering off-the-shelf and open source CMS technology, since these generic solutions are simply not capable of offering dynamic content personalization and one-to-one marketing.Dynamic Content Personalization allows hoteliers to leverage their “big data” about past guests’ on-property behavior, stay preferences, dining and activity purchasing habits while on property.This is one of the smart tools hoteliers must employ to better engage customers, gain advantage over the competition, and shift market share away from the OTAs.NB: Read part one of this analysis - Understanding real-time one-to-one hotel marketing and pricingNB2: This is a viewpoint by Max Starkov, CEO at HeBS Digital, a marketing consultancy in New York City. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative. Max blogs and tweets regularly about hotel digital marketing. NB3: Hotel pool legs image via Shutterstock.