Lincoln City learns the value of sharing guest data
Hotels have come a long way since the days of advertising in the Yellow Pages. Today, businesses can choose to spend their advertising dollars in a myriad of ways, ranging from traditional print, radio and television ads to online advertising. In today’s digital age, it’s getting easier and easier to target customers by location, interests and spending habits. But you can’t do so without important data such as guests’ email addresses, ZIP codes, personal interests, and preferences.
Larger hotels are typically better equipped to gather data than smaller, locally owned hotels and B&Bs. Recognizing this challenge, the Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau stepped in to assist businesses with this important but tedious effort, and it’s paying off in more ways than one.
Marketing in the digital age
The organization has been working with area lodging partners to collect guest data, both electronically and through focus groups. Lodging partners are asked to submit a monthly report that includes total number of guest nights and the ZIP codes of those guests. The data remains anonymous, which helped encourage about 14 hotels, motels, B&Bs and vacation home management companies to participate. Over the last four years, area businesses have reported more than 60,000 check-ins, according to Scott Humpert, marketing manager for the Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau. This helps the bureau as well as individual businesses determine where to spend their advertising dollars.
Hotels use different tools for collecting data, ranging from property management systems (PMS) to central reservations systems (CRS) to customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Yet, Humpert says, sitting down and talking to guests face-to-face is still one of the most effective ways to gather data about guest needs and preferences.
The Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau also conducted focus groups at various lodging partners ranging from large hotels to boutique inns. The bureau provided participants with incentives, such as gift certificates to local restaurants. They cast a wide net, gathering information from retirees, families with young children, middle-aged couples with no children, and singles. Not surprisingly, each group was looking to have a different experience in Lincoln City, and the focus groups were helpful in better understanding their needs.
Receptive to collaboration
“Those initial focus groups went a long way with the lodging operators,” says Jordan Grant, general manager of Surftides Lincoln City. “They were conducted in a really professional way, and provided some really valuable insights into our guests as well as how people perceive Lincoln City as a whole.” He adds that lodging operators are now more interested in collaborating on marketing and other projects that benefit the collective group.
For example, Surftides Lincoln City has developed a great partnership with Chinook Winds Casino Resort. “We’ve taken the time to get to know one another and our staff refer guests back and forth all the time. Rather than viewing the casino as competition we view it as a partner and resource.”