In the highly competitive world of hospitality, acquiring new guests can be a challenging and expensive process. Despite the clear benefits of bringing back past guests, only a small percentage of hoteliers have access to enough data and tools to simplify the process of driving repeat bookings. 

Hotels are not fully utilizing this fundamental source of revenue, even though according to Marketing Metrics research, the success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, compared to 5-20% for a new one.

Around 70% of guests never return to the same property, but with the right strategies and tools, your hotel can break this pattern.

However, reaching back to past guests can be a time-consuming task, especially when you have a limited marketing budget or a small team. That’s where the art of retention comes in. By utilizing the right marketing techniques and technologies, you can easily reach back to up to 80% of your past guests without spending hours of your valuable time. 

From exploring the benefits of re-engaging with lapsed guests to the power of text message marketing and AI/automated marketing, in this article we’ll give you the tools and advice you need to succeed.

The Benefits of Re-Engaging with Past Guest

It’s crucial to focus on winning back lapsed guests and re-engaging with them on an ongoing basis. Not only is it a more cost-effective way to retain existing guests, but it also helps build loyalty and create a positive reputation for your hotel. Let’s explore more benefits:

Increased Direct Bookings

Winning back lapsed guests is an effective way to increase direct bookings. You may have invested significant financial resources in acquiring these guests through commission fees paid to OTAs and other distribution channels, so it makes sense to leverage that investment by encouraging them to book with your business again.

By re-engaging with a past guest directly, you take out the clutter and endless options of booking hotels online. Since you have already invested time and money in providing an exceptional guest experience, it makes sense to make it convenient for the guest to return and not let that investment go to waste.

Increased Hotel Revenue

Retaining customers is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Studies show that it can cost up to 5 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. 

By providing exceptional customer service, personalized marketing, and loyalty programs, hotels can encourage guests not only to return to the property, but also and spend more money during their stays. Repeat guests are already familiar with the hotel and its amenities, and are more likely to take advantage of the hotel’s offerings, such as room upgrades, additional services, and food and beverage options.

Additionally, repeat guests are more likely to book directly with the hotel, which can result in cost savings for both the guest and the hotel, as there are no third-party booking fees involved.

💡#HotelierTip: Directful’s automated messaging tool provides an effective way to reach out to guests who have cancelled their reservations or failed to show up, allowing you to extend a personalized invitation to their property automatically .

Win back lapsed guests

Improved Guest Experience

By re-engaging with past guests, you have an opportunity to learn from their feedback and improve their experience. This can lead to increased satisfaction and loyalty, and can also help you identify areas for improvement that will benefit future guests as well. 

This also helps hotels to demonstrate their commitment to guest satisfaction and service excellence. By actively soliciting feedback from guests and acting on their suggestions and concerns, hotels can build trust and credibility with their guests, which can lead to increased loyalty and positive word-of-mouth referrals. 

Maximizing Guest Reach: Text vs Email

When it comes to reaching out to your guests, there are several communication channels at your disposal. The top delivery method used for retention is email (89%), the second is text message marketing. Let’s take a closer look at the stats and differences between text and email marketing and their efficiency:  

Preparation speed

In the hotel industry, timing is everything. Text message marketing tends to be faster and more straightforward, while email marketing may require more time and effort due to the need for more content and design elements.

Open Rates

One of the most critical metrics for any marketing campaign is the open rate, or the percentage of recipients who open the message.

According to a recent study by Campaign Monitor, the average email open rate for the travel and hospitality industry is around 20.2%. On the other hand, text messages have an open rate of around 98%. 

Engagement Rates

Engagement rates refer to the percentage of recipients who take any action after receiving the message, such as clicking on a link or making a reservation. This is another crucial metric. According to data from the Gartner, the engagement rate for text messages is around 45%, while email response rates are typically around 6%.

Automation and Guest Segmentation

While it is a common misconception that automation and targeting are only available in email marketing, with the advancement of technology, some SMS platforms such as Directful provide automation and segmentation features.

Text message marketing has become more sophisticated, allowing hotels now to send targeted and personalized SMS campaigns to guests based on their behavior or preferences, similar to what is possible with email marketing.

Automation and segmentation are crucial tools for hotels to enhance their marketing efforts, regardless of the distribution channel you choose to use.

Try new direct distribution channel

While both email and text message marketing have their pros and cons, the stats make it clear that text messages are the more effective channel for reaching and engaging hotel guests, but this doesn’t mean that you should abandon email marketing altogether.

You should use both channels in a complementary way, depending on your goals and the nature of your message, in order to maximize your reach and engagement with your hotel guests, leading to increased loyalty and revenue.


The cost of each channel is another factor to consider when deciding which one to use. While email marketing may be cheaper in terms of the cost per message, the lower open and response rates mean that you may need to send more emails to achieve the same results as a single text message. 

To leverage a highly effective marketing channel, you can’t go wrong with text message marketing. With overall open rates of 98%, and a 45% response rate, there’s no better or easier way to reach and engage your guests.

Save up to 80% of Your Marketing Time with AI and Automation

In today’s fast-paced business environment, hoteliers are always looking for ways to save time and improve efficiency in their marketing efforts. As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, hoteliers who embrace AI and marketing automation will be better positioned to thrive in a competitive marketplace.

Here are some of the ways how leveraging these technologies can help save time on a hotel’s marketing efforts: 

Personalization at Scale

Personalized communication is key to retaining customers and re-engaging with past guests. With AI-powered personalization, hotels can deliver tailored messages to each individual guest based on their preferences, interests, and past interactions with the hotel.

This can be done on a scale, without requiring manual input, saving hotels time and effort while increasing the effectiveness of their marketing messages.   

Automated SMS Campaigns

By using automation software, hotels can use SMS campaigns that are triggered based on specific actions, such as a guest booking a room or signing up for a loyalty program. These campaigns can be pre-designed with templates and customized with personalized messaging, reducing the time and effort required for manual SMS marketing.

Automated text messaging can also help hotels reach guests more effectively and in real-time, improving the chances of engagement and conversions.  

Automated Guest Feedback

By utilizing AI-powered guest feedback tools, hotels can automate the process of collecting, and motivating guests to leave positive feedback, as well as identifying areas of dissatisfaction in a timely manner. This not only saves time compared to manual feedback collection, but also provides valuable insights that can help hotels improve their services and marketing efforts. 

💡#HotelierTip: Directful’s AI powered automated review module significantly enhances reputation management strategy, motivating guests to share their positive experiences and have glowing reviews on TripAdvisor, Google or other platforms. See us in action!

Targeted Messages and Guest Segmentation

AI-powered segmentation tools can help hotels group guests into segments based on factors such as demographics, past behavior, and preferences. This allows to deliver targeted messages to specific segments, improving the relevance and effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

Automation can also help streamline the process of creating targeted messages and campaigns, saving hotels time and effort while improving their ROI.  


Turning one-time visitors into loyal guests is essential for driving hotel revenue. By leveraging AI-powered and marketing automation software (like Directful), you can reach back to 80% of your past guests and easily personalize communication, targeted promotions, automated reminders, and feedback requests.

 This ultimately leads to increased guest satisfaction and loyalty, and in the long-term, helps hotels save time and resources in their marketing efforts while driving revenue growth.

See Directful in action!

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