How to manage your guest database
Having a database where you can keep and manage all your guests’ details is very important. Knowing your guests’ preferences, if they are a repeat visitor or have a special requirement for their stay, helps you to accommodate their needs perfectly. For example, when the time comes to send an email newsletter to all of your former guests about a fantastic 50% off deal you’ve currently got for afternoon tea, you’ll need to be able to whip out a handy list of people to send it to.
So, how do you start to create one, and just as importantly, how should you go about making sure that the information on there is all correct and up to date?
1. Setting it up
First and foremost, you’ll need a way to get all your guests’ details. The easiest and best way to do this is to get visitors to fill in their details on arrival, or simply ask them for their details, which you can then input into your system while they’re checking in. Another option is to get every guest to fill in a feedback form upon checking out after their stay. You could add an incentive to get them to fill out the form, entering all the lucky feedback filler-inners into a draw to win a free stay at your B&B, for example.
Once they’ve filled in their details, including their all-important email addresses, you can add them to your database. It may save you time if you do this as quickly as you can, so you don’t get a backlog of loads of people’s details to fill in all at once.
2. Being up to date
Once you’ve set it up, you’ve got to make sure that it’s up to date at all times – there’s nothing worse than a guest database that’s been left to stagnate! Here are some of the issues that every guesthouse owner in the country can avoid by keeping their database up to date:
- You could waste resources (your time or a member of staff’s time) trying to email someone whose information – such as their email address, has changed
- You could be trying to contact someone who is deceased
- You can ensure that there are no spelling errors
- You can spot and amend any mistakes, such as duplicate listings
It’s worth knowing that you’re actually legally obliged to make sure your guest database is all present and correct, so the last thing you’ll want is to get a call from the authorities. In short, the Data Protection Act of 1998 states that you ‘have a legal responsibility to make sure that your data is accurate and up to date.’
3. Staying on top
The best way to keep on top of all this confusing data, is to simply be very reactive – make changes as soon as you hear of them! If a guest informs you that they have changed their address, email address, or anything else, then change this in your system straight away.
One way to encourage your visitors to inform you when any of their details change is to add a little note on your email newsletter, asking people to inform you when they move house or get a new email address, for example. Another option is to send an email to all of your guests say, once a year, just asking them to check that the details you have on file for them are correct and whether they’d still like to receive information from you.
4. Enter the Matrix
So how do you actually amend the details of someone whose information has changed? Everyone’s database will look a little different but there should be a few things which are universal.
Firstly, you’ll want to access your list of guests, which you should then be able to filter by person to find the details you want to edit or delete – this could be a simple search function, or a method of narrowing down people within a certain age bracket, for example.
You should also be able to add a contact, which is, of course, useful for when you have new guests that you’d like to include in your database. Sorting your contacts into groups, such as hiking groups, businessmen and couples, is also a good idea, which comes in handy when you want to conduct a new marketing campaign that targets a specific group of people.
In short, setting up and managing a database of all your visitors’ details is very important, and can actually be a very easy thing to keep on top of – little and often, as they say! The result is that you’ll have all your contacts at your fingertips, ready to contact anyone you might need to, or construct a new email marketing campaign whenever the mood takes you.
If you would like to know a little more about setting up a new email marketing campaign, then please read our guide: How to run an e-mail marketing campaign like a pro.
For more help with managing your B&B, take a look at eviivo’s award-winning B&B software, designed to make taking bookings a lot more simple, so you’ll have more time for the fun stuff – actually running your B&B!