On behalf of all legitimate email marketers out there I’d like to thank the unknown gentleman who took the floor at yesterday’s Independent Hotel Show in response to a comment made by a well known hotel critic (let’s just say he writes for a major Sunday broadsheet). Said critic was taking part in a live panel discussion on trends in the UK hotel industry and made the observation that marketing, and in particular email marketing, was in his words ‘ruining what was left of a rapidly declining UK hotel industry’.
Quick as a flash, our intrepid defender stood up and called for the floor microphone to respond. Firstly he pointed out the difference between legitimate email marketing and the general spam the critic was alluding to (great – I liked him already!). He then went on to describe the many email and CRM tools available and the considerable effort that many hotel marketers go to ensure that their communications are far from intrusive – on the contrary, that their intention is to deliver timely and relevant information that enhances their guests’ experience.
Wow, who was this guy? Sadly I didn’t get to find out. He was lost in the exiting delegates and left the floor without a chance for me to find out more.
But was he right? In principle, yes of course, but in practice?
From the visitors I spoke to at the show I’d say all were fully conscious of the need and benefits of permission, and had a sincere desire to add value, not intrude, on the busy lives of their hard won customers. They were certainly not indiscriminate spammers and indeed shared the same indignation at being tarred with this brush. However, no-one I spoke to really practised personalisation or individual targeting in anything more than a cursory way. First-name personalisation was fairly standard, as were automated ‘thank you for visiting’ messages, and a follow-up next season promotion – but, honestly? Not much else.
So I came away from the encounter vowing that on the behalf of email marketers everywhere, I’d honour our unknown champion by furthering the cause for audience profiling and behavioural targeting.