Today I had what seemed a helpful message from an online travel agency that I list with.
“Let us know where guests can pick-up the keys
Quickly tell us where guests can pick-up the keys so you don’t have to worry about explaining it each time a new guest stays.”
Sounds good, easy for the guest and you, BUT … I say no!
The “but” is that this particular OTA (Booking.com) masks your guest’s email address and censors messages. Keeping the key details in your control gives you leverage to withhold the key details until you get your guest’s full personal email address. No keys until you get the full address!
Why should you want the full email address?
There are two vital reasons.
1 Your loyalty program
You should keep the option open to be able to email past guests for any reason any time. The OTAs remove emails after a while, and you have literally no way to contact past guests by email. Once guests stay you can get their permission to go onto your newsletter and if you have the guest personal email you now have a fabulous way of keeping in touch, sending offers and marketing to your own guests. Remember, it is so much cheaper to get a repeat guest than to acquire a new one.
2 Transparent emails without censorship
With your guest’s direct email, you can send attachments and telephone numbers direct to your guest, knowing they will get them in their entirety. Guests can also send you any details and they will all come through untouched.
It is well known that OTA robots may censor messages removing attachments and any other information. Last week, my OTA guest tried to send me his telephone number via the OTA messaging service, but the robots stripped it out, twice, and he had no way of knowing. [click to continue…]