Meeting and exceeding the expectations of your guests builds loyalty, and that is where you should direct the lion’s share of your attention if you want to increase customer retention. The other reason why you should prioritize customer retention is that it costs much more to acquire new clients than retain existing ones, who on average, according to this Forbes.com report deliver a massive 65% of the company’s profits.
In that case, if you want to win the loyalty of your previous guests as a hotel operator, exceeding their expectations is paramount, and here are some of the benefits you will realize when you achieve this objective.
- It creates profitable upselling and cross-selling opportunities with a focus on your loyal clientele.
- Automatically builds a loyal and profitable customer base for your hotel.
- Encourages direct booking, which reduces your hotel’s OTA and other commission-based fees.
- Lowers guest acquisition costs.
- Helps you to create a strong network of brand ambassadors who can provide that sweet word-of-mouth power to your marketing efforts.
Realizing repeat guests is quite fulfilling for most hotel owners, but you should not stop at that if you are focusing on standing out from the crowd in the hotel hospitality industry. The process of moving your first-time hotel guests to become repeat clients and eventually loyal ones will firmly establish your position in today’s competitive market. Here are some of the strategies that hotel owners can adopt at every stage of the customer retention journey.
Stage One – Before Arrival
1. Prioritize PMS System for Hotel Booking and Reservations
If you want to achieve your occupancy and revenue goals quickly as a hotel operator, you can promote your brand through OTA channels. The only problem is that OTAs charge high commissions on booking and reservations that can affect your cash flow in one way or another. The probability of intrusions into your hotel’s direct relations with guests is also high when you opt for OTAs, as they retain the rights to remarket to essentially “their” lead, not actually “your” guest. These larger OTA’s have all the marketing power they need, and it’s very easy for a new guest at this stage to prefer the larger brand and their slick marketing over your hotel brand. This represents lost loyalty.
Developing long-term relationships with your guests as a hotel operator is challenging when you involve OTAs, and that is why you should encourage your guests to use the Hotel (WBE) Web Booking Engine and book rooms directly.
You can also consider such value-added incentives as free breakfast and late check-out or – as a last resort if you really can’t think of anything better – offering a discount to guests who book directly. A reliable Hotel WBE which is a part of Hotel PMS System will help you beat the competition from OTAs and earn you maximum returns for every hotel booking as well. Remember: You own the marketing rights to every guest who books via your own booking engine. Be smart, and get ahead.
2. Identify VIP Guests and Prepare Accordingly
VIPs do not book every other hotel out there, so there must be a good reason why they opt for a specific property. If you happen to receive a VIP booking, adequate preparation before their arrival is of the essence. First and foremost, ensure that your hotel staff members are aware that you are expecting a VIP guest so that each of them focuses on delivering exemplary services.
Preparing your hotel staff before VIP arrivals will keep everyone on their toes and take care of last-minute flaws that can affect your hotel’s image. When you accord VIPs the respect they deserve, making them feel part of your family by creating a sense of belonging and ownership in them, the chances are much higher that they will enjoy every bit of their stay. Your hotel’s customer retention rate will increase almost by magic.
Stage Two – Arrival
3. Offer Personalized Customer Service
It only takes adding a personal touch to service delivery when guests finally arrive at your hotel for them to start singing your praises from the onset. Gracious, personalized service should form the basis of every service you offer your guests as well as the facilitation of their unique wants and needs over the entire period of their stay at your hotel.
Additionally, do not shy away from unhappy guests. Serving dissatisfied customers in a helpful and empathetic manner can pre-empt bad online reviews, reverse any potential damage, and enhance the potential of realizing repeat guests even as you focus on building customer loyalty. A Hotel PMS (property management system) and front desk software will also prove instrumental at this stage because they facilitate quick response when clients call in for in-room services, or to report a faulty light, among other things.
4. Focus on Creating an Experience
One of the most effective customer retention strategies that hotel operators can deploy is giving their guests an experience they cannot find anywhere else. You need to appreciate that various clients, including millennials and generation Z, value personalized and authentic experiences at every stage of the customer retention journey, which is why you should consider adopting the same.
The assumption that millennials are not loyal is woefully incorrect. The fact is that millennials uphold their tastes and preferences, and gaining their loyalty will demand the provision of unique guest experiences. For instance, you can consider partnering with local wineries and restaurants, promoting eco-friendly features, highlighting local chefs and artists, among other options.
Stage Three – Post-Stay
5. Keep The Conversation Alive
Getting reviews from previous customers is of the utmost importance when focusing on winning their loyalty. The idea, in this case, is encouraging them to write and post positive reviews about your hotel. You can use automated emails or a thank-you note to request reviews from previous clients and understand that receiving excellent feedback from them is a sign of social trust that helps you build a loyal clientele. Make this part of the process a no-brainer for the guest. They don’t want you to set them a 4-page survey, you monkey, they just want to click a smiley! Invest in a tool with a low barrier-to-entry and you will be reaping the rewards almost instantly.
Once you get the necessary reviews, begin working towards remaining in the minds of your guests by engaging them on social media, through other content marketing activities, like regular blog updates about your Local Produce Event Nights, etc., and deliver these messages with well-executed email campaigns.
6. Consider Reputation Management
Monitoring conversations on social media is part of the prerequisites for post-stay reporting and analytics because it brings to your attention issues that demand your immediate response. For example, if you come across negative reviews about your brand, avoid becoming defensive, and respond graciously within the shortest time possible. In the words of Jay Baer, the modern-day Customer Success guru “Hug Your Haters”.
Delays in addressing discussions that taint your hotel’s reputation can have far-reaching effects, which will frustrate your guest retention efforts.
Happy guests are at the heart of the success of the operations of any hotel, and creating brand loyalty remains at the forefront of making this a reality. Right from reservation management systems to mobile apps and booking software, you can align your hotel systems and operations in such a way that each of these helps you radically improve guest retention, one step at a time.