A recent study by Harvard Business Review showed that customers who had the best past experiences with a transaction-based business spent 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.
Sure, if asked to describe the nature of a hotel, ‘transaction-based business’ probably wouldn’t come to mind for most of us.
But could we argue against it?
As a hotelier, you want to constantly attract new customers and keep a steady stream of your existing customers coming though your front doors. You want to exceed your customers’ expectations so they want to keep coming back to stay with you.
So, how do you build customer loyalty? Here are some tips to turn a one-time visitor into a loyal, ever-returning guest.
1. Be a global player on and offline
In a world that is better connected than ever, it has become increasingly important to cater to the needs and wants of all potential guests – and many of these guests won’t necessarily speak your language.
According to Forbes, 72% of customers prefer to make a purchase in their own language and remember: English is not the primary language in 57% of the fastest growing markets. While most people now speak English, they want to feel that you are considering their needs and are looking forward to hosting them. This means that not only should you be prepared to hire multilingual staff, you should also consider optimising your website by creating various language versions.
The ability to cater to foreign markets and identify trends amongst your visitors will underline your credibility as a global player, and emphasise your readiness to integrate your customer’s needs within your customer experience management strategy.
Online, it’s as simple as making your website easy to use – while also featuring the best rates, availability and special offers, as well as presenting potential guests with services and features they want. For example, if the majority of your customers are business travellers, it’s likely they will be most keen to relax, so it would be worth ensuring your pampering services (such as your massage parlour and spa) are easy to access and can be added to those guests’ bookings. An easy-to-use website can increase direct bookings quite considerably.
2. Make the customer experience personal
When travelling to foreign places, where you often don’t know your way around, a helpful concierge or friendly hotel staff with the right information on hand can often be a dealmaker or a deal-breaker.
Guests like to feel well looked after. If you spoil them with bespoke experiences, including tailored offers and personalised recreational options, they will take note and are highly likely to revisit. In a research study by State of Travel, 87% of those surveyed stated that staff courtesy was an important factor.
You can often build a profile of your guests, and establish the reasons behind their trip by analysing their data within your property management system. However, check-in is the perfect time for your staff to find out more information about your guests’ travel purpose; Are they on a business trip or a romantic weekend away? Or, are they simply having a relaxing holiday with the whole family? Once you know what they are after, use that information wisely and make it work for you.
For example, when you have honeymooners stay with you, offer them something special to enhance their experience such as a free room upgrade or a free spa treatment. Don’t just satisfy your guests – delight them.
(Make sure you also collect feedback whenever you can – be it through a customer survey or thank-you email – so you can improve future guest experiences.)
3. Reward customer loyalty
Acquiring a new customer can cost five to nine times more than selling to an existing customer, so it’s pivotal that hotels do everything they can to keep their existing guests happy and revisiting time and again.
Loyalty programs that offer guests discounts, freebies and other perks, for example, can add real value to a guest’s experience – and ultimately to your sales graph.
Per tip #2, however, remember to keep it personal.
According to Deloitte, hotels that choose to build differentiated loyalty programs and a customer experience that anticipates and integrates priority customers’ personalised needs, have the potential to increase their market share, with:
- Approximately 30 percent of hotel loyalty members likely to switch their preferred brand
- Nearly 50 percent of hotel loyalty members’ annual hotel spend not with their preferred brand.
By focusing on making rewards personal and meaningful, providing in-the-moment accessible rewards and reshaping the customer experience, Deloitte suggests hoteliers can win customers and entice them to come back repeatedly.
Customer service and guest experience remain at the core of the hospitality industry, so don’t be afraid to acquire the tools that can help your hotel to operate more efficiently.
Invest in your people by investing in the technology that will allow them to focus on guests.