Protecting Customer Relationships While Building a Prospect Database
By Tema Frank CEO, Frank Reactions | January 27, 2012
Have you ever stood outside a restaurant looking at its menu, trying to decide whether to choose it or one of the half-dozen other restaurants on the same street? How would you react if the maitre d' suddenly came out and asked you how many seats you needed? A little affronted, perhaps? You might feel that he's coming on a bit strong. What about if instead he came out and covered up the prices on the menu, telling you that you have to come inside and sit down before you could see the prices? Seems ridiculous, doesn't it. Yet that's exactly what a surprising number of hotel sites still do online, insisting that prospects register in order to fully explore the hotel's offerings and prices. Nothing turns away potential customers faster.
There are obvious reasons for wanting prospects to register and give you information about themselves, many of which can even benefit them. The more you know about them, the more relevant the information you can present, both while they are on your site and in later e-mails. This is good for both of you. But consumers are wary of unwanted e-mails, concerned about the security of any personal data they enter, and, quite rightly, reluctant to share information before they are certain yours is a site they are truly interested in, comfortable with, and might want to use again.
If you want to collect information from visitors to your site, think about:
The less you ask for, and the later in the process you ask it, the more likely you are to get it without scaring away new business. Here's how one typical prospect reacted when faced with a request to register at the site of a high-quality, well-known, hotel chain:
"I feel uncomfortable with them asking for a reservation name this early because as of now [I've made] no commitment to make an actual reservation."
There is no need for you to know anything about the customer, other than when and where they would like to stay, before they reach the point of wanting to finalize a booking. And what information do you really need then? Be sure not to demand too much. You need their contact information and credit card number. That's all. Anything else should be optional.