Guest loyalty as your business strategy
For big hotel chains, loyalty programs are a popular strategy to successfully drive bookings and to improve customer relations. However, size doesn't mean small and medium hotels can't implement loyalty programs to complement their business strategy.
Driving a successful customer loyalty strategy for a small or medium hotel can be challenging, specially when most information is based in practices for chains and large hotels. Loyal customers are more profitable as they are more likely to repeat their behaviour, which means return to your hotel. A recent study from Phocuswright discovered loyalty programs are an effective tool to drive direct booking. However, only 40% of properties in USA and 42% in Europe have a guest loyalty of reward program. This is a result of lack of understanding of loyalty programs and therefore appreciation of what these can do.
To gain a deeper and strategic understanding of your customers can lead to boost your business and to obtain insights about your guests. Going beyond identifying the regular guests by name or face can clear the air for loyalty program implementation and establish why, who and how guest access benefits. Defining, planning, executing and monitoring a customer loyalty can be hard, but once the program is working you only have to fine-tune it. The purpose of a loyalty program revolves around new customer acquisition, increase customer expenditures, retain current customers, and rise revenue.
There are two types of established loyalty programs: informal and formal. The first one relies on your staff and front desk to identify returning guests, and usually doesn't have clear rewards parameters. Formal programs mostly use customer relationship management (CRM) systems and have established parameters and a sound structure to follow. To build an effective strategy you should:
-Define your objective. Identifying the purpose of your loyalty program indirectly draws a path to the actions to take.
-Be realistic. Adjust the objectives to the current hotel and service state. The success of a loyalty program also relies on reliable and attractive experiences for guests, nurturing positive hotel experiences.
-Constant tailoring is necessary. Once you understand the tools you hoteliers have in their hands, and have insights on each guest profile, they can deploy strategies and constantly fit the program as deeper insights arise. Asking guests and potential guest for constant feedback will provide valuable information to consider.
Data will be your best ally to define, plan and execute your loyalty program. Tracking your guest behaviour and every moment-of-truth with your guests will reflect on the results.
Finding a connection between your objectives and your customer's needs and desires serves a way to understand what value propositions are setting hotels apart from their competition. A conjunctural effort between your staff, your marketing, your booking engines, and your digital information can lead you into profiling your audiences and the benefits to offer.
In digital times like the ones we are living in, considering loyalty programs to extend to the Internet is a brilliant step. For example, Mr. Johns stayed in your hotel 3 nights, had lobster, went to the main city attractions and ordered a hard pillow for his room. Afterwards, Mr. Johns left a positive comment on your social media and wrote a review saying he loved your customer service. Why not reward Mr. Johns a discount on his next stay? Or points he can exchange for a free dinner, branded merchandise or a city activity hosted in your hotel? Next time you can use this data, leave a hard pillow, a brochure with additional activities and personalize Mr. John's experience.
If now you're wondering how to do all this, we have some suggestions hoteliers can implement in the next five minutes in their property with tools and information already available in their hands. With your current database, identify the profiles of your travellers and complete their pages. In Base7booking, hoteliers can add as much details about each individual guest, thus working towards customer fidelization. Remember the hard pillow example and apply it in all possible situations.
Hoteliers also have a complete database with guest emails and names. Why not send a quick newsletter with special offers? Our powerful email sender has pre-designed newsletters with intuitive and attractive templates, and accepts email listings from different sources. In social media, where your audience navigates, you can read your reviews, check pictures, answer comments and engage in meaningful conversation with your guests. Every moment and every encounter counts when we are talking about loyalty.
This article was first published on http://www.hospitalitynet.org/