Since its initial release in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s timeless book, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. The book has become something of a bible for individuals looking to excel in their personal and professional lives, built around the sentiment that dealing with people is no easy task to master. Often, it’s the biggest problem we face. Throughout its chapters, Carnegie outlines six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.
In a 2011 New York Times article, author Brett Cole highlighted the interpersonal complexities ushered in by the digital age and how Carnegie’s advice may prove even more meaningful in our current era. “Messaging speed is instantaneous. Communication media have multiplied. Networks have expanded beyond borders, industries, and ideologies,” Cole writes. “Yet rather than making the principles in this book obsolete, these major changes have made Carnegie’s principles more relevant than ever. They represent the foundation of every sound strategy, whether you are marketing a brand, apologizing to your spouse, or pitching to investors. And if you don’t begin with the right foundation, it is easy to send the wrong message, to offend, or to fall embarrassingly short of your objective.”
This observation rings especially true when we look to the world of hospitality, an industry in which brands live or die according to the ever-shifting preferences of travelers. In life, we know that how you say something can often bear more weight than what you say, and similarly, how hotels communicate and tailor their offering to guests can often move the needle more than the specifics of their offering. And as with any sales-driven relationship, hotels will unlock more direct bookings when they identify better strategies for communicating with and connecting with their guests. So, how can hotels win guests and influence booking behavior?
I’m so glad you asked.
FYI: Caring is a Hot Commodity
In his book, Carnegie shares an important takeaway: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” It’s hard to deny the truth of this sentiment when we consider the evolution of advertising. Where billboards and in-your-face advertisements used to reign supreme, we now see brands across industries exercising a more insight-driven approach to marketing. Rather than casting the widest net possible in an attempt to capture more attention (even if it’s fleeting and ultimately disinterested), today’s most effective marketing schemes whittle down audiences to share targeted, personalized messaging.
More importantly, brands are expected to demonstrate care for their customers. Much like Carnegie said, businesses can often establish more loyal customers in two months by becoming interested in those customers than they can in two years by simply trying to get everyone interested in them. Simply stated, travelers care about the hospitality brands that care about them. Hotels cannot expect to effectively influence travelers to make a booking decision if they do not demonstrate a willingness (or better yet, a determination) to know, understand, and connect with those guests on a meaningful level. In this sense, caring is a catalyst to sales, and it is often best achieved through personalization.
In fact, 86% of consumers report that personalization plays a role in their purchase decisions, and 48% of consumers say they buy more when marketers leverage their interests and buying behavior to personalize their experience. Research also indicates that personalization can deliver 5x-8x the ROI and that over 70% of hotel guests report having a more positive experience at hotels that use personalization techniques. Despite this, Statista states that as of 2020, only 46% of global travel and hospitality executives felt somewhat confident about their ability to effectively deliver personalized experiences and messaging to their customers. This barrier to personalization can likely be attributed to a former lack of infrastructure; fortunately, new-age platforms have been built with guest personalization in mind. With cutting-edge PMS, CRM, and remarketing platforms, hotels can safely gather and interpret traveler data to personalize every guest touch-point with ease and accuracy. From personalized emails to relevant, highly engaging offers and upgrade options, a little personalization goes a long way.
Show Your Guests You Haven’t Forgotten Them
In another section of his book, Carnegie writes, “Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” This is, of course, a rather simplified point, but an impactful one nonetheless. After all, one of the first lessons we learn in business is to always remember the names of our professional connections, and make a lasting first impression. With this in mind, hotels should look to leverage these small but meaningful gestures of familiarity to show prospective travelers that they are paying attention. After all, how can you expect a guest to believe that you know what they want (and can provide them what they want), if you don’t even demonstrate that you know who they are?
This practice becomes especially integral to a hotel’s email marketing (and remarketing strategy). Is your hotel sending out mass, impersonal emails and letting prospective guests abandon their cart with no further follow-up? If so, you’re likely missing out on a wealth of booking revenue that a competitor hotel will be happy to collect. With the right reservation recovery platform, hotels can finally send perfectly timed, personalized emails directly to visitors who have completed, or almost completed a booking. Leveraging guest data, this technology can automatically inject room info, dates, prices, personal details, and more to maximize your personalization and, thus, a hotel’s direct booking and booking recovery results. This sends a very important message to guests: “Hey, we see you, we value you, we won’t forget about you, and if you’re not yet ready to book, we’ve held your spot in line.” Moreover, with the availability of affordable digital tools designed specifically to delight guests at every point of their journey, hotels no longer have any excuse to engage with guests in an impersonal, disengaged manner.
As Carnegie famously said, “winning friends begins with friendliness” and, in the world of hospitality, winning booking decisions begins with a people-first approach to guest engagement. Now, more than ever, hotels are expected to develop one-to-one relationships with guests and, fortunately, guest personalization can now be achieved in an automated, scalable manner. The best part? Not only will your hotel attract more loyal and engaged guests, but winning more direct bookings means winning 15-25% more revenue on each booking. So, hoteliers – are you ready to win guests, influence booking behavior, and protect your bottom line?