SailPlay Helps Hoteliers Retain, Engage Guests

NEW YORK—To remain successful, customer retention is the name of the game. Repeat guests are the lifeblood of any business.

Leonid Shangin and Yakov Filippenko, co-founders of SailPlay, a B2C marketing automation platform based here, sought to solve a problem they saw in the marketplace. The duo noticed that historically in the e-commerce industry, when marketing departments needed to execute campaigns or create marketing tools, they were completely reliant on the information technology department.

“Since most IT teams are usually busy working on countless other activities, marketing activities were pushed back. But marketers can’t afford to wait days, weeks or months for their needs,” said Arnab Mitra, marketing manager, SailPlay. “As a result, Shangin and Filippenko realized they needed to create a tool to help marketers launch campaigns and build other activities.”

A B2C marketing automation platform can be beneficial to hoteliers, enabling the ability to assemble a 360-degree view of each of their guests. SailPlay’s clients include Arbor Hotels, Tahoe Luxury Properties, as well as booking platforms Charity Pro Travel and Tutu.Ru.

“Through a B2C marketing automation platform, hoteliers can collect guest information, helping them segment them into specific groups,” said Mitra. “Through segmentation, hoteliers can organize promotions, marketing campaigns and other sales campaigns by groups to create a more engaging relationship with their guests. The more specific their campaigns and promotions are, the more likely guests are to engage with the campaign.”

In addition, with a B2C marketing automation platform, hoteliers can implement multiple promotional campaigns at the same time.

“In our experience, hoteliers are usually running multiple promotions at the same time, but guests cannot double up on the promotion offers. With a B2C marketing automation platform, hoteliers can enter all of their current promotions, adding rules when each promotion should eligible,” he said. “Hoteliers can be assured that their guests only receive the correct promotion they are eligible for, instead of multiple campaigns, hurting the hotel’s profit. Additionally, hoteliers do not need to rely on a third software just for promo campaign management, helping keep costs low.”

Mitra outlined tips to keep customers loyal:

It’s about the customer. “The main advice we provide to hoteliers is that their customer loyalty program should be designed around their customers and not their hotel,” Mitra said. “In our experience, hoteliers and other businesses typically focus their program architecture around what is most convenient for their business. The issue that arises is your customers may not find your program attractive enough for them to be loyal to your hotel. Hotels that focus their customer loyalty program on their customers first and their hotel second will find the most long-term success.”

Personalization matters. “We encourage hoteliers to focus on personalizing their program for their guests,” he said. “Personalizing a customer loyalty program requires the hotelier to understand what the guests are purchasing, and how they are interacting with the brand on social media and through other actions. Based on the customer data, the hotelier can begin to offer specific benefits to guests. For example, hoteliers would find it important to distinguish guests by categories—business visitors, family trips and one-time visitors. Business visitors would typically provide the most value to hoteliers because their frequency to make a reservation is much higher than the groups. As a result, hoteliers wouldn’t offer a business visitor with a promotion targeted for families. The more personalized a program can be, the more likely guests are to stay engaged, thus increasing their customer lifetime value.”

Determining ROI while using SailPlay is made possible through the solution’s analytics suite, which provides clients with real-time information about purchases, repeat customer history and social media activity. Specifically for purchases, Mitra explained that the company provides clients with the ability to break out purchases by location, type of customer—loyalty member versus non-loyalty member—and most popular product, and then build custom reports.

“With this information, hoteliers can understand how their program and overall business is performing and make any necessary changes to maintain ROI or improve it,” he said. “For example, if a hotelier notices that over the course of the past quarter that repeat customer frequency is high, but new customer frequency is low, then the hotelier can update or change the marketing to attract new customers.”

In addition to the SailPlay platform, there is also SailPlay CRM designed as a management tool for hoteliers. Through SailPlay CRM, hoteliers can automatically aggregate information from different channels, including email communications, live chat conversations and phone calls.

“Through our open and restful API, we collect information about live chat conversations and phones. Additionally, through SailPlay CRM, hoteliers can manually open up Guest Profile Cards and add specific comments and information from different channels,” he said. “Plus, in the SailPlay platform, purchases from multiple currencies can be tracked and converted into points, alleviating the need for hotels to implement multiple customer loyalty platforms or B2C marketing automation platforms based on respective countries. And, one more key feature about the SailPlay platform is it upholds personal data to the local laws of each country. As a result, if a country requires its citizens’ information be stored in their country, then we will ensure their information is stored in their respective country. Recently, many websites have feared losing access to certain markets because they have failed to meet with local country laws; we want to assure our hotel clients they do not have to worry about losing access to any markets.”