Is GDPR Compliance Apocalyptic for Traditional Hotel Marketing Campaigns?

June 29th, 2018 Lisa Livingston Data Management

You’ve all heard the hullaballoo about GDPR compliance. The definitive date of May 25th has come and gone and no one lost power, failed to have their computers boot up, or was fined millions of dollars.  However, as anti-climactic as the rollout out of GDPR seemed to be, it still left some hoteliers wondering; how the regulation applies to them.

The Reader’s Digest version is this: If you’re collecting any European citizens’ data, you run the risk of hefty fines if you don’t comply.  In fact, the GDPR regulations even affect customer communication methods like website abandonment, mailing lists, and marketing campaign lists.

But, don’t let the confusing verbiage or legal jargon rattle you as property owners.  Today’s hoteliers can still target market to their past and future guests, but it is critical to play by the GDPR rules. While the GDPR regulations seem rigid, it’s still possible to use specific marketing strategies to your advantage; the key is being selective while building your mailing lists.

OTAs have inevitably become a large part of your properties bookings, right? So, you might be thinking, that listing your property’s availability with an OTA is a lesser of two evils. While OTAs can sometimes make independent hoteliers feel unable to reach full occupancy due to their larger than life advertisements, and full-scale marketing campaigns, smaller properties can combat that with GDPR on their side. For OTAs mailing lists are sometimes their only option: But, guess what? OTAs don’t get to meet their guests individually; they may have received a phone number or an email address, but they have no other way to communicate with their guests.  This is where hoteliers like you have the advantage!

As in almost all things service related, better quality is key! Since the GDPR regulation went into effect on May 25th, 2018 hoteliers shouldn’t send marketing campaigns to just any guest (former or potential) who has not opted in to receive such a communication.  Think about that for a moment.  What will you need to do to gain permission from your guests to utilize their information in the future? If you’re thinking that you can get to know your guests better while they’re onsite; you’re thinking is headed in the right direction. Offer coupons, promotional rates, or additional benefits to those who are willing to opt in and receive email, phone or direct mail marketing campaigns.  Not only will this serve the purpose of obtaining their permission to market to them in the future, but it will also allow you to get to know what offers your guests truly want to see.

You’ll probably find, that not all guests will want to opt in; but don’t worry, that’s ok!  Just because a guest doesn’t want to receive targeted offers doesn’t mean that you need to market less; it simply means that you need to target your marketing efforts more. Target to guests who were impressed by your property, and would consider coming back or referring others. We’ve all heard the adage “less is more”, right?  Well, less is sometimes more (meaningful) when you as a hotelier, find that you don’t always need to send the maximum amount of marketing emails to get the best guest response. In fact, with a smaller recipient list, your conversion rate may increase leaving you, and your guests happy.

While there has been a lot of negative talk surrounding the effects of GDPR since the idea was first conceived, do not treat GDPR as the equivalent of a zombie apocalypse for your property.  Keep those guests happy and opting in and you’ll see that your marketing efforts don’t have to change that much after all.  Changing your marketing strategy can be scary, but it is not the end of the world.

If you’re still not clear about the GDPR regulation and you’d like to find out more, please visit GDPR.org for more information. Our Sales Team is happy to consult as well, just Click Here to strike up the conversation