This blog series was originally part of a presentation and workshop called “Spa Service, Yield Management, Trends & Marketing for 2019.” Our collaborator Jim Croghan at Identity Hospitality delivered the co-created presentation, which was graciously hosted by Tendencia Magazine in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
2019 will be about better customer experience with personalization, automation, AI-powered technology and being where your customers search. To help your spa stay ahead of the curve and increase conversions this year, you’ll need to get better at producing custom, conversational content – particularly audio and video content – to share with your better-targeted audience.
While these trends could be grouped into one big marketing bucket, they actually encompass every aspect of your business from services, to employees, to technology to marketing.
First Things First: Best Practices
At the very least, your spa’s marketing strategy should include these 5 basics:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
- A Content Marketing Strategy
- Cultivating Online Reviews
These are best practices for all businesses, but for spa brands, having these basics in place mean the difference between a slow death or real growth.
Even with these things in place, dramatic shifts in technology are happening. Things you could have ignored a few years ago because they seemed like science fiction are actually happening right now. I mean, 10 years ago, who would have thought you could have a digital assistant order pizza delivery, control the ambiance of your home while you’re at work, or tell you what your commute was going to be like after your alarm went off in the morning?
Digital marketing strategies are evolving in this current high-tech, Internet-connected era, and spa and hospitality brands need to use them to succeed in their efforts because what worked last year may not work this year.
In this blog series, we’re going to talk about:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Video Marketing
This is part 1 of the series which covers Artificial Intelligence. Tune in over the next 3 weeks as we talk about Personalization, Video Marketing and Micro-Moments.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Remember all the movies that started coming out in the 80s that painted kind of a bleak future where robots powered by artificial intelligence take over the world? Well, while we’re not quite at the Replicant stage, AI is here and it’s taking over all of our menial or tedious tasks.
For spas and hospitality, it means automating and optimizing your customer service, generating simple human-like reports that analyze and improve your content, and increasing the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
Businesses adopting AI in 2019 will be able to save costs and accelerate growth, gaining an edge over their competitors.
Usage of AI bots in the hospitality space has helped brands find success on a number of critical fronts:
1) they increase revenue
2) increase customer satisfaction
3) increase engagement and brand loyalty and
4) lower costs via automation
AI-Driven Customer Service
AI can analyze consumer behavior and search patterns, using data from social media platforms and blog posts to help businesses understand how users and customers find their products and services. For example, Facebook messenger bots can help you automate and optimize your customer service.
Artificial intelligence also offers information and tips to users by getting into conversations. According to Gartner, 25% of customer service will use chatbot technology by 2020, up from less than 2% in 2017.
Chatbots use instant messaging to chat with customers or site visitors in real-time, day or night. With 1.4 billion people currently interacting with chatbots, 80% of savvy businesses are already using or plan to use chatbots by 2020. Companies are saving as much as 29% on customer service by deploying bots, according to McKinsey. BI Intelligence estimates that chatbots will equate to a $23 billion in savings from annual salaries.
Many customers prefer interacting with chatbots as they are responsive, give answers promptly, accurately recall your entire buying history, and never lose patience. These virtual assistants offer outstanding customer service, meeting customers’ expectations and automating repetitive tasks – which means you can focus on more important work, like ensuring your five-star standards and being adhered to from top to bottom.
Read our post on How to Ensure a Great Guest Experience from the Inside co-written with Jim Croghan of Identity Hospitality.
How could AI work for spas? For starters, it could replicate a phone conversation during the online booking process.
Generating Simple, Human-like Reports That Analyze Performance and Content
One of the best uses you can find for AI is report generation. Having computer-generated reports not only saves you time, it gives you more time to analyze the results, present it to management, and actually do something productive with those insights.
AI services like Quill Engage help explain Google Analytics data in plain English through custom reports delivered straight to your inbox. (Who here always feels like you need hours of training in order to really understand Google Analytics reports??)
These AI-generated reports deliver the most important and interesting insights on your site’s KPIs, including sessions, pageviews and bounce rate. You’ll be able to immediately understand what’s driving your website’s performance with in-depth analysis on referral traffic, goals and conversions, events, ecommerce, and AdWords.
If you take a look at one of their sample reports, would you be able to tell that it was written by a computer?
Other AI companies like Articoolo take your data one step further to actually create content, rich with long-tail keywords to improve your search engine results page (SERP) ranking. These keywords are incredibly important in the highly-saturated spa and hospitality industries, where your Unique Selling Proposition is paramount to your SEO. Having specific localized, long-tail keywords and knowing what your ideal guests are actually searching for make for a more efficient ad and marketing spend.
AI helps spas address their biggest marketing challenges. If you have limited marketing resources, can’t maintain consistent, personalized engagement, or aren’t seeing lasting results, then you should consider implementing software that can do all of this for you.
I once heard of a programmer who automated all kinds of crazy things in his life, including parts of his job, his relationships and making coffee. His rule was that if anything took 90 seconds or longer to complete, he wrote a script to automate it.
He wrote scripts for the office coffee machine to make his coffee while sitting at his desk. He also wrote a script that sent a text message “late at work” to his wife that automatically picked reasons from a preset list of them. It sent this text anytime there was activity with his login on the company’s computer servers after 9 p.m.
He also wrote scripts for customer service, particularly for one customer he didn’t like, that scanned his inbox for words like “help”, “trouble”, and “sorry”. It then automatically rolled the customer’s database to the last backup, and then sent a polite reply.
With another script, he automatically fired off an email excuse like “not feeling well, working from home” if he wasn’t at work and logged in to the servers by 8:45 a.m. He called that script “hangover.”
I’m pretty sure that the developer community was so inspired by this guy that they’ve been innovating marketing software that uses this guy’s playbook and practically eliminates all those challenging or tedious tasks that have previously been the bane of marketers’ existence.
Savvy spa marketing in 2019 includes automation. Here are some results-driven automations that you can employ today through AI-driven software like Zenoti:
- Daily campaigns that analyze your appointment calendar to predict slow days and open availability, identify the right customers to target, and work behind the scenes to fill your schedule in a way your best manager would.
- Engage and recover lost customers with a series of personalized communications, identified through predictive analytics that forecast which guests you’re likely to lose, so you can initiate marketing and sales outreach before you lose them.
- Increase guest spending by sending out highly relevant, personalized emails that are based on analysis of the guest profile. The system will analyze ideal new services to introduce and promote to each guest — this can be sent out in automated emails and texts AND! it can also assist your front desk staff and technicians to upsell and sell more add-ons.
What did you think of part 1 of our series on 2019 Marketing Trends? Let us know in the comments! Come back next week to learn more about why you should be implementing Personalization in your spa’s marketing efforts if you want to differentiate.