Good behaviour, by Five Hotels and Resorts’ Ahmad Kheir

Five Hotels and Resorts’ Ahmad Kheir decodes how to successfully master customer behavioural marketing and form a coherent online marketing vision

By Ahmad Kheir, director of digital and e-commerce, Five Hotels and Resorts.

The hospitality industry was one of the last adopters of digital and e-commerce strategies, compared with other industries, which has led to a gap in customer satisfaction and expectations. However, the occurrence of Covid-19 was one of the key factors that pushed the industry to adapt, modernise and digitalise its processes and tactics to fit in with the new normal.

For many hospitality entities, traditional advertising can feel like a hit-or-miss process. Carefully crafted messages sometimes fall short without a clear reason and potential customers don’t connect with the advertisements in a way that encourages them to engage – and eventually make a purchase.

These less desirable results often result from marketers creating advertisements that fail to address the customers’ particular behavioural interests and desires. The results can also be caused due to the advertisements reaching the wrong audiences altogether.

In the age of advanced tracking, random marketing is the dinosaur in the room. Not only do these methods lack effectiveness, but they have led to a massive waste of money and resources over many years till date.

If you are an online advertiser, you can use behavioural targeting and the always evolving innovations of data management to target audiences that offer a better conversion rate for your entity.

Most of the advertisement platforms, such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Snapchat and Twitter, offer a wide range of targeting that can deliver your ad to the right consumer, age, gender, location and interests – all of which are the main pillars of these platforms that were built for these exact purposes and therefore attract advertisers to spend their digital marketing budget on them.

How does behavioural targeting work exactly? For now, it’s all about tracking user behaviours online and collecting pieces of data from these behaviours – called cookies – and this process often involves the following few steps: collect cookies; create a user profile; segment; share relevant information with users.

In early 2018, Five Hotels and Resorts adopted a full digital-first approach, which helped the company to improve the revenue of brand channels and a drive a noticeable increase in overall revenue. Direct bookings have grown to more than 60 per cent and have increased Five’s brand revenue by an impressive 142 per cent year-on-year, between December 2019 and December 2020.

During Covid-19, we had the luxury to rethink all our digital strategies and behavioural targeting, which we have applied.
This resulted in Five’s brand website traffic skyrocketing during Covid-19, as we established all of Five’s brand channels (website and social media) as the main competitor for all other travel agents combined.

This was achieved by mastering the non-linear customer journey for purchase decision making in our digital distribution blueprint, which involved multi-layered investigation and exploration of customer activity data in order to provide our guests with the information and reassurance they needed to make a final purchase decision.

Nevertheless, as digital strategists, we often focus on just one side of the process to the extent that that we ignore the other. This should not be the case while building your digital legacy. Giving appropriate and fair attention to every single digital step – from creating the ad and targeting to choosing the right platform, while focusing on the website user experience and then finally collecting the right data – is the essential key to digital paradise.

Having a proper digital-first approach is critical to the success of every campaign, while behavioural advertising can help marketers increase user engagement and visits to the website – all of which ultimately will lead to an increase in the conversion rates of actual customers.

Thus, building a digital marketing ecosystem that is agile, distributed and scalable with automated functionality is the number one priority for any company that wants to dominate its industry because it will allow every enterprise to concentrate on and boost its optimally performing channels, campaigns, advertisements and source markets.