March 10, 2010 - Mumbai.
Loyal customers are the foundation of almost every business. by gaining the loyalty of guests, you receive multiple benefits such as repeat business, goods reviews and testimonials. Loyal guests offer positive word of mouth publicity to family and friends, thus adding them to the number of potential guests. Moreover, it is easier and seven times less costly to retain a guest than to find a new one. It is because of these reasons, developing a relationship with your guests is an art that every hotelier should learn.
How do you encourage return guests? How do you create a database of loyal guests who are not inclined to book with competitors offering a lower rate?
As an hotelier, you can gain the guest’s appreciation by providing them with great rooms, excellent service and good food during their stay. However, the key to gaining guest loyalty is remembering that loyalty is built over time through a collection of positive experiences. There is no quick ‘5 minute’ solution. From the minute, the guest makes a reservation; you need to go the extra distance to meet his needs. Moreover, you need to engage the guest, long after he has departed. This begins with offering excellent service and continues with year round loyalty and relationship building programs. This will emphasis his importance and encourages him to stay at your hotel the next time he is in the region.
Tips to Gain Guest’s Loyalty
Customer Service: Go the extra distance and meet guest needs. If you do not make guests feel special and valued, they will seek out a hotel that appreciates their presence and money. To gain a guest’s loyalty, you need to ‘Treat each guest the way you want to be treated’. Keep in mind that guests are like elephants - they have long memories and will remember if you treat them well and vice versa. So, failure to adhere to ‘Treat Well’ policy will have negative impact on your revenue margins, as they will discourage any family and friends from booking.
Communication: Today’s guests are sophisticated. They are constantly bombarded with all types of messages from TV ads to emails and they can tell when a hotel is genuinely interested in deepening the relationship and when a hotel is just trying to increase their revenue. So, be very careful with all communication. Make sure that your message is balanced. It shouldn't be a page long sale pitch encouraging past guests to make a reservation without any information that is purely beneficial to them.
You also need to ensure that your message stands out. You can achieve this be personalizing your message. For example, instead of the generic ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, address it directly to the person – Dear Mr. Singh. This will show the guest that you see him as an individual rather than a generic mass.
Loyalty Programs: Loyalty Programs or Member Programs can help you cultivate guest loyalty. There are two types of loyalty programs, the first, a Recognition Program and the second, a Rewards Program.
- A Recognition Program is all about communicating with guests, identifying your best (most frequent) guests and giving them preferential treatment.
- A Reward Program gives loyal guests tangible rewards such as redeemable points, freebies, discounts etc. This type of program encourages guests to perform an action to gain the reward. This type of program encourages guests to perform an action to gain the reward. For example, every time you book at the hotel, you receive a set number of points that can be redeemed against your next booking.
You can use either one of these programs or a combination of these two programs to help build a relationship with guests.
To conclude, by taking these steps, you can build a relationship with your guests, emphasis their importance to you and encourage them to stay at your hotel the next time they are in the region.