Every year I pore over thousands upon thousands of resort emails.
Partly to look for the best of the best, but partly because that’s a step in the process of pulling together aggregated, industry-wide stats for some of the stuff Ryan Solutions publishes.
But over and over again I find myself nerdily swooning over one campaign type that capitalizes on one of the coolest aspects of hospitality.
Window Lift Tickets v Online Booked Lodging
This lesson may be best illustrated by comparing a lift ticket purchased at the window at 9:30am to a hotel room booked online a month before their arrival.
Now think about these two transactions in terms of three simple factors: time, complexity, and data.
On the one hand, the ticket comes with very little data. The product is also fairly complex. A new skier to your mountain could be choosing between 100+ runs to craft their experience.
The transaction also happens – and this is the important part – just minutes before consumption or ownership begins. I’ll talk more about why that’s important in a second.
On the other hand, the lodging reservation comes with a lot of data including personally identifiable information that ties that guest to their other transactions. The product is even more complex than skiing alone as we tie in nightlife and room types and activities.
But his transaction also happens – again, this is the important part – 30 days before consumption begins.
That window between purchasing something and consumption is rare. When I buy a doughnut, I’ll typically start consuming it within minutes of my purchase. Similarly for a long list of other common purchases where within seconds of paying for an item, I take ownership and possession of that item.
And this is where it gets interesting, because once I start consuming that product, the chance to prepare me for that moment has passed.
Was there a helpful tip or trick that would help me get the most out what I just paid for? A story that would have increased the meaning of that purchase? Something I should have done long before I arrived? Unless that brand was able to communicate such messages before I pulled out my credit card, it’s too late.
This is where skiing has a huge leg up on other industries because, especially with the movement toward advanced purchase of lift tickets, we have a complex product (prone to imperfect consumption) and a window of time to prepare each and every guest to have the best experience possible.
And that’s why my favorite email campaign is, perhaps, the pre-arrival.
Just like it sounds, it’s sent any number of days before a guests arrival at the resort and contains things like:
And because there’s behavioral data tied to that guest, you can send informations that’s highly relevant.
Indeed, when I looked at the correlation between guests that got one of these emails and those that didn’t, there was a noticeable difference. Yes, an automated email led to an increase in satisfaction.
Not Just Lodging
What’s awesome is the resorts that are doing this with much more than just lodging.
When you have a complex product and a window to address the nuances of that complexity, you have the makings of a powerful, simple marketing campaign.
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