Traditionally, hotel websites have served the same content to all site visitors regardless of their preferences, demographics, and even geographic location.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Max Starkov, CEO at HeBS Digital, a marketing consultancy.
Every website visitor is served the exact same textual and visual content as well as promotional content in the form of special offers, packages, opening slides, marketing messages, promo tiles, and more.
Some bigger hotel brand websites provide language, content and pricing personalization based on the user’s affiliation with a loyalty program or IP address to better differentiate their offering in certain markets (e.g. domestic vs. foreign; US versus UK, etc).
Static website content – one size fits all?
Hoteliers need to customize the content on their websites to fit the interests and preferences of different demographic and geographic audiences
The more relevant (read custom, dynamic) content you deliver to your website visitor, the higher the level of engagement, conversions and revenues. Hotels have the "home field" advantage: they know who is coming to their hotel website, and they should be personalizing the content according to this data.
Here’s an example of how a full-service resort in Florida should be dynamically personalizing content, based on the type of website visitor:
- Family travel planner: visual and textual content should be all about family fun; promotional content should focus on family packages, specials and family-friendly accommodations and activities.
- Corporate meeting/retreat planner: content on the site should “scream” meeting-friendly resort with customized imagery depicting corporate retreats, conference facilities and team-building events. Textual content should describe the resort as the ideal meeting destination, emphasizing meeting facilities and amenities. Promotional content should focus on complete meeting packages, hot dates, and other corporate group promotions.
Same website, completely different, personalized experience.
Multiple ecommerce research companies have found that the more relevant a website’s content is to the user, the more it resonates with user preferences and purchasing behavior, translating into higher conversions on the website.
Companies that are personalizing content, promotions and user experiences on their websites are reporting uplifts in E-commerce sales as high as 40%!
Dynamic content personalization to the rescue
Dynamic Content Personalization involves the development of a website content personalization strategy that entails delivering unique and relevant textual, visual and promotional content to site visitors based on their:
- geo location
- website pathing behavior
- past booking history
- guest preferences
- reward program affiliation or affiliation to a particular customer segment
These segments could cover transient corporate travel, leisure travel, family travel planner, corporate meeting planner, SMERF group planner, wedding planner, social event planner, etc.
This strategy takes on various tactics, starting with serving the most relevant content to website visitors based on their geo-location, affiliation to affinity groups and customer segments, and loyalty program members.
How dynamic content personalization can help hoteliers shift share from the OTAs
OTAs have been bragging about their Big Data - gigantic amounts of data about their website users and user browsing and purchasing behavior.
At the same time the OTAs have relatively "small data" about hotel guest on-property behavior, such as stay preferences, dining and activity purchasing habits while on property.
This is a huge advantage hoteliers have yet to effectively exploit. Dynamic content personalization is definitely one of the smart tools hoteliers must employ to shift market share away from the OTAs.
When shopping around for a new website redesign, a dynamic content personalization-enabled CMS (Content Management System) that enables the property to offer personalized user experiences on the hotel website must be a top priority.
This strategy of delivering content that is unique and relevant to site visitors is not only pioneering but will give the hotel a competitive edge in this very competitive marketplace.
Smart personalization engine
There is a way to do this, using technology which has been designed with full content personalization capabilities.
A smart personalization engine provides hoteliers with an innovative and extremely powerful tool that enables them to target property website visitors with personalized textual, visual and promotional content, boost conversions and maximize website revenue.
A property website to might be able to target:
1. Visitors from specific feeder markets (geo-targeting):
- Domestic: In-state, neighboring states, main feeder market states, metropolitan areas and cities
- Foreign feeder markets: Countries or metropolitan areas and cities
2. Return site visitors vs. first-time visitors
3. Customer segment affiliations:
- Business vs. leisure travelers
- Corporate group planners
- Social event planners
- SMERF group planners
4. Loyalty Program members vs. non-members (convert non-member to members)
- Loyalty members as a whole or different membership levels (Platinum, Gold, Silver, etc)
5. Browser-specific personalization
6. Search query specific personalization
7. Referrer-specific personalization
8. Past booker personalization:
- Second time bookers
- People who booked more than 3 months ago
- Offering suite promotion to past suite bookers
9. Demographics based on Facebook’s OpenGraph integration on the hotel website
Here is how it might work:
In part two of this article we will look at some of the use cases for implementing a smart personalization engine!
NB: 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.
NB2: Hotel marketing icons image via Shutterstock.