One of the most critical aspects of running a business in the hospitality industry is to build a base of loyal customers. When loyal guests return to your establishment, they bring in more than just revenue; the impact is more complex than that.
Guests who choose to stay at the same place every trip get to know the staff, and, just as importantly, the team gets to know the guests. By doing so, the team can anticipate the guest’s needs with each stay and understand what it takes to wow them.
When guests love a hotel, they also share that information with others. Loyal customers recommend the business to friends and family. They post pictures on social media to show their network that they’re enjoying themselves and having a wonderful experience. Free publicity brings in more guests that you can work to impress.
The question isn’t whether hotels need to build loyalty in their client base, but rather, how? Consider these 15 creative ways to build your loyal customer base.
1. MAKE A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION
Your chance to make that first impression starts before the guest walks into the hotel. For most, it begins with the internet booking process. There are many online review and booking platforms out there. Potential visitors frequently conduct thorough research on different places before deciding where to stay.
It is critical to ensure that these sites offer correct information about your hotels so that guests are not misled or confused. Check the accuracy of your properties’ information on your website, review sites, and other associated websites regularly.
Provide them with accurate and up-to-date high-quality photos of the property. Nothing is more disappointing than seeing one picture online, establishing expectations, and finding something completely different in person.
2. GET TO KNOW YOUR GUESTS
Of course, you’ll get to know your guests when they frequent your hotel often. However, you can start building this personal connection even on the first visit.
Look for staff that is naturally empathic and thoughtful. Show them ways to incorporate this personalization into their role during their training. Teach them to get away from the desk when possible and walk around the public areas. This can be a quality control exercise and a chance to talk to guests. If they see something that needs cleaning up, they can stop and take care of it on the spot.
Do both check-in and check-out interviews to get to know your guests and understand the guest experience. These are usually quick surveys to learn more about what the guest expects and better understand their experience as they leave. If they are unhappy, address their concerns and make note of them on their account to accommodate for future visits. This way, if they do come back, you already know what not to do.
3. PERSONALIZE THE EXPERIENCE
In the hotel industry, they use “guest” for a reason. It helps to personalize the experience and sets a tone. Personalization doesn’t have to be complicated. Something as simple as using a guest’s name is effective as it shows they are not merely a room number.
You can add personal touches, too. For example, you might ask your housekeeping team to leave handwritten notes that address the guests by name. They can introduce themselves and let them know how to contact them during their stay, should they need anything.
4. DELIVER A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
You need to make your hotel memorable, especially for leisure travelers seeking a unique experience. That way, they have a reason to pick yours over any other. Provide them with amenities that stand out. For instance, you might have yoga or meditation rooms.
Some hotels work with other local businesses to enhance their guest experience. They might cater food from a local restaurant or showcase local art in the hotel room for guests to enjoy.
Also, consider providing excursions that guests can sign up for, such as transportation and discounts to a local attraction. Don’t just focus on the places everyone goes to; pick some unique venues too, such as museums or art galleries. You might arrange a behind-the-scenes tour at a popular local attraction or offer classes that help them enjoy the local environment. If your hotel is on the beach, you might provide surfing lessons. If it is in a historical city, coordinate an informative walking tour.
5. DEVELOP A HOTEL LOYALTY PROGRAM
Reward your guests for their loyalty with a reward program. It could be anything from a free night’s stay, a massage, or tickets to the local theme park. Whatever you choose, have a strategic plan in place from the beginning.
Ensure everything is laid out as clearly as possible, defining black-out dates, national holidays, three-day weekends, or high season,, and the time frame for which points expire. Rewards can be in the form of birthday discounts, frequent stays, prolonged stays, referrals, or unique amenities such as a personal trainer or masseuse.
If possible, customize the program to make your brand stand out. If you are known for your fabulous restaurant, use that as a reward.
6. UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media can be a tool for hotels looking to build loyalty. Something as simple as a post or message thanking them for their stay with a picture of the smiling staff makes an impression. Invite them to leave online reviews of their experience, providing them with sources such as Google Business or Yelp.
Also, pay attention to any posts about the hotel on social media and give them a like, a comment, or share. Focus on things like selfies while in their rooms or on the property. Just knowing that you were that attentive makes an impression, too. Interacting on social media creates engagement with your hotel and your team.
If someone posts something negative about your hotel, contact them and find out what went wrong. If you can resolve the issue, they might post about your excellent customer service. If nothing else, the response shows you care.
7. MAKE USE OF EMAIL MARKETING
Use email marketing to welcome guests when they arrive and to thank them when they leave. Also, keep them up-to-date on local events and hotel reward programs and encourage them to leave positive reviews.
8. GIVE GREAT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LOCAL ACTIVITIES
Offer to answer any questions for them about the area. Share information about a favorite local restaurant or the best ride at the local theme park. This personal interaction helps the staff better know the guest, too.
Be sure to be honest if you recommend something. Don’t send them to a restaurant you know isn’t up to par. If you put your stamp of approval on an activity, make sure the venue delivers on your recommendation. If they ask about a specific restaurant and you have not been there, let them know.
9. OFFER DISCOUNTS
Offer discounts for local services such as transportation, attractions, and gyms. Your goal is to make sure they enjoy their time there. If you can help them do that for less, it will reflect well on the brand.
10. EXCEL AT CUSTOMER SERVICE
The key to good customer service in any industry is communication. Give your guests plenty of ways to reach out if they need something. Hotel staff should focus on being proactive instead of reactive and looking for potential problems before they become an issue with a guest.
Teach the staff the value of a smile and nod, as well. If guests feel like they are invisible, it will impact their loyalty and guest satisfaction.
11. BE FLEXIBLE
Once upon a time, hotel check-in and check-out times were written in stone. Today, it pays to be a little more flexible with your guests. This perk could even be part of a loyalty program. The guest will feel special.
12. OFFER INCENTIVES
Incentives are another way to make your hotel stand out in a sea of hotels. The more you provide your guest as part of your standard service, the more attractive staying with you will look.
Some potential incentives might include free Wi-Fi, gift cards for extended stays, complimentary breakfast or brunch, spa services, in-room amenities such as teapots or coffee machines, and free business centers. Guests will appreciate the added value of amenities like spa access and in-room service.
List all these bonus options on your website and at the various booking programs so clients know what to expect when they arrive.
13. IMPROVE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE WITH TECHNOLOGY
Technology is more of an expectation these days than a bonus. Customers expect things like keycards and paperless check-ins and check-outs.
Other tech amenities worth considering include ordering food service via a smartphone app and innovative technology in the room for the lights, TV, and temp. You might set up a chat on the website for current guests to text with a staff member if they need something.
How about setting up a digital concierge available to any guest? Concierge service is a huge draw for hotels. This would enable one person to handle more guests. They can use the concierge to purchase tickets, make restaurant reservations, and order transportation.
14. GET IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK
Take your request for feedback beyond just the checkout. Have a staff member call guests after a few minutes in their room to see if everything is okay, if they know how to use the tech, and if they need anything.
You could also send a text to their phone to have another channel for communication. Keep it short and straightforward: Just checking in, how’s the room? Anything to prompt them to let you know things are good or could be better. This way, an unhappy guest can be made happy while still on the property.
15. EXCEED YOUR CUSTOMER’S EXPECTATIONS
Every hotel stay needs to have that Wow factor to exceed the guest’s expectations. Create decor and style that blows their minds. Follow it up with fantastic customer service and surprise amenities. Make sure when they think luxury, they think of your hotel.
Even little things like a city map in the room or a seamless check-in experience have the potential to exceed your guest’s expectations. When they leave, they should talk about how great the hotel was along with everything else.
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