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Email Personalization Engages Travel And Restaurant Customers During COVID-19 Downturn

The combined Accommodation ($275 billion revenue annually) and Food Services ($899 billion) sector has been doubly-hit hard in the past few years by a combination of data-focused hacking attacks and COVID-19 business stoppages.

Email Personalization Engages Travel And Restaurant Customers During COVID-19 DownturnIn terms of data security, Accommodation and Food Services is seeing a shift in 2020 from an emphasis on traditional Point of Sale (PoS)-related attacks to a more even distribution of threats, most notably malware and hacking via stolen data or credentials. Personal internal data was compromised in a full 44 percent of these breaches while internal credentials were targeted in another 14 percent.

One of the cornerstones of a solid security program against these types of data threats is data hygiene. Transformania works alongside a comprehensive data protection policy to ensure that your CRM data is clean and secure while at the same time ensuring that your data is accessible in support of strategic business growth.

Data security is an important angle for what Transformania has to offer the Accommodation and Food Services sector. It is a sector in which email marketing is still a significant business cost and a robust data inventory is an invaluable tool for understanding and optimizing customer information across businesses in the hospitality, hotel, restaurant, catering, and lesure spaces.

Sadly, this sector has been hit excessively hard by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Some sobering numbers underscore the struggles within this sector:

  • The average daily rate (ADR) of hotels in the US was $92.15USD as of June 2020, a drop of over 31% compared to May’s ADR
  • The occupancy rate for June 2020 was 42.2 percent, a drop of over 42% from the previous month.

And given the ongoing pressures from COVID-19, the sector recovery is expected to be slow and difficult. And things are not looking up immediately, given that “summer is typically high season for hotels due to factors like good weather, longer days, and school holidays. Winter occupancy rates reflect the low season, typically year-on-year the occupancy begins to decrease around October and spike around June” (Statista). According to a recent McKinsey projection, the sector “recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until 2023—or later.”

What this means is quite clear: any marketing advantage in the coming months might prove to be a significant one, a game changer that allows innovative companies and brands to respond with agility to each new opportunity.

This is where Transformania can help, especially through its patent-pending DearMe feature, which allows you to:

  • Personalize “Subject” lines
  • Personalize content as a stand-alone email feature or in support of dynamic content
  • Create both formal and informal salutations
  • Add personalized prefixes and suffixes to names
  • Ensure accurate capitalization and letter case of multi-part first names
  • Capture crucial, identifying data from incoming email addresses. For example, ([email protected]) arrives and Transformania automatically suggests “Jody” as an identifiable option for a personalized salutation and content dynamic element.

And data has already shown us that such basic (and simple) personalization pays off. As Campaign Monitor recently reported, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and the more people open your email promotion the more people can respond to it.

Given that the Accommodation and Food Services sector is a global business, with clients located all over the world, the ability to segment your email list geographically is crucial. Rather than emailing bulk offers to all your clients, for instance, you can focus your content for clients in a particular postal code or time zone.

But what if your CRM data is incomplete or outdated? It’s great to have the power to segment by time zone, but what if only half of your clients have time zone data as part of their contact files?

Transformania’s Data Enrichment Features guarantees that your internal data is never missing such important information as time zone, congressional district, Zip+4 (the most accurate possible), or even “miles away from a specific address.” Our software will scour your internal data, identify these key deficiencies, and add it to each contact automatically.

Imagine you are offering a great one-night hotel deal in downtown Romance City. You can now send personalized email promotions to only those clients within driving distance of the hotel, encouraging them to take advantage for a weekend getaway (hotel plus dinner), a curated hotel-and-theater package, or any number of possible deals you can build in partnership with local businesses. Put simply, you can optimize every possible offer without ever cluttering the email inboxes of customers too far away from Romance City to find the deal relevant. And data tells us again and again that information that is not relevant is the reason that 43 percent of people unsubscribe from email lists.

The segmentation possibilities are almost endless when you trust your data to be clean, complete, and accurate. Make your emails super relevant with weather targeting. Allow your customers to self-segment. Personalize emails with dynamic content, so that Jane in San Francisco and James in New Jersey both see the deal on a Caribbean vacation package but get that information in very different emails: one personalized to reflect costs from the west coast, for instance, and the other tailored for east-coast residents.

And segmentation works. Flight Centre reported a 57% increase in click-through rate thanks to dynamic content management and segmentation.

Despite these proven gains, HospitalityUpgrade observes that many sector marketers still “shy away from personalization, assuming a complete re-organization of the brand’s database is required.” In reality, Transformania makes integrating “personalization strategies into any brand’s email marketing campaigns” easy. And the impact is impressive, driving “increased customer-satisfaction, interaction, awareness and overall brand loyalty.”

McKinsey projections for the sector are optimistic and realistic:

Travel will return. But the recovery will likely take longer than in other industries and will vary across segments. Business and leisure travel will return at different paces, as will domestic and international travel. What’s certain is that the next normal will be marked by structural shifts, especially around customer expectations for hygiene and flexibility.

What better way to “manage customer expectations, recognize that these [expectations] will continue to evolve, and prepare to act agilely to address health and safety concerns” than through strategically segmented, personalized emails? Emails that let customers know you are listening and that you care. Transformania can help you get that message out clearly and effectively as well as ensuring that clean, accessible data is a critical part of your new business reality.