Guest loyalty is the most desirable achievement in the hospitality industry. While loyal guests may not make up the bulk of your visitors throughout the year, their lifetime value plays a key role in your hotel’s business growth.
One of the most challenging aspects of running a hotel is determining exactly which segment is worth targeting in terms of loyalty. The new guest acquisition can cost the hotel owner a pretty penny, and there can be no surefire way of establishing how much a guest is going to spend until they do.
Casting a wide net is one way to ensure full occupancy but it is hardly a profitable marketing approach in the long run. Many hoteliers fear alienating a particular guest segment and so they remain neutral in terms of the acquisition. This could be a valid strategy for those who have a good location, a pre-established brand and strong guest traffic due to external factors.
And the aforementioned could have been enough to maintain a brand’s identity, if not issue growth, were it not for COVID-19.
Loyalty has now fallen to the sidelines and hoteliers are simply focused on the guest acquisition of any kind as a way to curb their losses. And this is the conundrum, you see where guest loyalty used to equal business growth, it can now be the one segment which can carry you out of this crisis debt-free.
Here are 5 tips on how to make the most of guest loyalty:
- Bring Down the Cost of Service
- Hoteliers are feeling pushed to lower their prices for certain guests in order to secure more bookings, and this can be a useful strategy in some cases, but when we speak of lowering the cost of service in guest loyalty, that does not necessarily refer to dropping your five-star pricing system in favour of a three-star one.
- Tip: How Technologies are Helping Hoteliers Reduce Costs
- The current recession has not skipped any industry with many being forced to scrap shipping altogether, due to the prolonged waiting periods for delivery. Reach out to local vendors and negotiate a deal which would allow you to maintain your hotel’s current standard of service but at a lower cost. This way if you choose to reduce room rates to encourage bookings, you would still be in the green.
- Build a Guest Persona Which Best Reflects Your Loyal Guest Segment
- Guest personas allow you to have a more comprehensive understanding on how to market to your most profitable guest base, and to be able to prepare for a sort of service that they are most likely to engage with and spend on.
- As mentioned before, the guest acquisition is quite the expenditure, but a necessary one, if it means you can guarantee more sales per stay or longer stays altogether. Guest personas can bring down the cost of guest acquisition as they act as a model of what you are trying to gear your marketing strategy towards.
- You would not need to come up with multiple strategies for a number of scenarios if the one you have developed is profitable because it is targeting the one group that will be most likely to send on your services.
- Tip: The Three Steps to Building a Successful Segmentation Strategy For Hotels
- Make Private Offers to Former Guests
- Like many other establishments, you have probably experienced a wave of cancellations earlier in the year, some more valuable than others. If you consider the circumstance of the most valuable of these cancellations and consider options which the guest might find reasonable you can reach out to them with a private offer.
- Some of these cancellations might have been last minute, meaning that no refunds were issued, this can leave a bad taste, which is why reaching out to such guests with a custom offer which in some form makes up for the earlier unpleasantness, can mend the ties with your clients and bring in much-needed revenue.
- Tip: Six Tips on How to Increase Low Hotel Occupancy in the Off-Season
- Of course, this doesn’t need to be the case in order for you to make an offer. Many guests’ prospects are looking at last-minute travel opportunities, as 2020 has meant that many simply denied themselves the chance to plan a trip, to begin with.
- Consider any weddings or birthday parties that were organized in the years before. Many of these couples might be interested in an anniversary package or just a private getaway. Stress the fact that this is a private offer, and accentuate the cost savings that you are affording them if they choose to book with you. The recession has forced everyone to be tighter with their money, so this might be just what they need to consider choosing you over the competition.
- Train Staff to Treat Loyal Guests as VIPs
- Every guest likes to feel special, but few have the opportunity to do so. This is easier to achieve with loyal guests as you already have information on their shopping preferences, the suite they choose to stay in, and activities they engage in.
- Adding VIP awareness to staff training is aimed at increasing guest spending. This can include things such as referring to guests by their name, going out of their way to accommodate guest needs: offering to take their meal up to their room, if they have ordered at a later hour, recommending options for services they know they have enjoyed previously, reacting to complaints promptly and resolving them until the guest is satisfied. All in all, encouraging guests to relax and enjoy their stay as much as possible.
- It would be a challenge for your staff to keep track of guests’ names especially if you run a larger establishment, but your hotel property management system can hello with that. If the guest is a repeat visitor you already have this information available in your system, along with any purchases and upgrades they’ve made. You can begin at check-in, with your staff addressing them by name, and offering to get their old suite ready for them.
- Engage with Guests Online
- Loyal guests are in themselves the best way to increase your segment of loyal customers. Encourage their use of social media, in subtle ways, such as selfie spots, or a hashtag with your establishment’s name somewhere at the reception, remind them that the panorama from the terrace on the last floor is something worth seeing, or offer to take their picture if you see them trying to do it themselves.
- Surveys are another great way of figuring out what makes your service worth seeking out as well as what areas could use improvement.
- Have staff remind them to leave a review as they are checking out and definitely respond to the review as soon as possible. Social engagement with your guests online allows them to see your service for what it is and increases the chance that they will speak fondly of your establishment and their time spent there.
- By inviting guests to repeat their stay and encouraging them to invite others to do the same you are completing the cycle of loyalty, in which one loyal guest creates another. Without encouraging this stage you are suffering needless cost for guest acquisition.
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About Clock Software
Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.