One of the biggest challenges currently facing hotels is the erosion of guest loyalty and the struggle to retain awareness and relevance.
Travellers now have a greater focus on finding the best possible offer they can from any source.
One of the reasons for this is that hotels still aren’t providing an adequate level of personalised service.
Customers are using the growth of online travel agents (OTAs), increased price transparency, peer-to-peer options, and a rise in comparison-shopping to meet their demand of new value propositions.
A worrying statistic for hotels reports 39% of hotel customers say a loyalty program has no effect on persuading them to stick with one particular hotel. They are increasingly placing a premium on experience, with 72% of millennials valuing experiences over things.
If we agree the travel journey is broken up into four parts; search, buy, stay, and reflect, we hotels have lost the search battle and are being disrupted by OTAs and other services in the buy stage.
The stay stage is obviously the life of a hotel. It’s the one place where the hotel can have full unrestricted influence over the traveller. But even there, accommodation sharing is becoming very neighbourly. When guests reflect on their stay, it will be the hotels who provide meaningful experiences that will be remembered.
So how do hotels create more brand awareness, better experiences, and ultimately a stronger sense of loyalty in travellers? One way is to increase the ‘mindshare’ of your hotel.
What is mindshare?
Mindshare is a concept based generally on the development of recognition and popularity for a product.
The goal is to reach a stage where when people think of a hotel, your brand is one of the hotels they can easily call to mind when thinking about where to stay.
In some cases, the brand name may even become a synonym for the product or service. For example, Hoover the brand became a synonym for a vacuum cleaner.
If loyalty programs aren’t working in isolation, then hotels need to work harder on providing superior services and positioning themselves as a unique entity within the industry. Like they do in every facet of society now, consumers want simplicity, personalisation, speed, accuracy, as well as control when it comes to travel.
Accenture research shows 75% of consumers want personalised services and only 13% of respondents in a 2015 survey said they find digital and physical offers to be well aligned.
How can you build mindshare for your hotel?
First and foremost, hotels need to utilise data to learn as much as possible about customers but also the competition they need to differentiate themselves from. Here are some steps you can take:
- Define your target
- Create a people-based, mobile-first service
- Engage with the newest technology. Mobile apps have overtaken the desktop for digital engagement as 54% of US digital media time is now spent on mobile apps
- Give guests as much access as possible to interesting events and activities by offering tickets, promotions, and information
- Build a library of collateral. This might include content from digital brochures and newsletters, industry magazines, e-zines. All of this provides valuable information and gives the impression you are helpful and conscientious. On top of this, personalised emails will show you’re willing to go the extra step
- Use multiple mediums. This will help catch the eye of the prospective audience and give you a better chance of cutting through any clutter by allowing customers to engage at different levels
- Be patient and persistent. It may take up to six months to build the relationships with customers that have a lasting effect
Ultimately, the key strategy for reinvigorating brand affinity is to think outside the box to stand above your competitor’s while thinking carefully about the needs of each of your customers and how you can give them the most personalised experience possible, to the point where they may reject a cheaper hotel to stay at yours instead.