It seems hard to believe now, but there was once a time when people booking holidays would look for the same brands everywhere they went and would actively seek to stay in the same properties over and over again.
In the 21st century, thanks to the internet, things are very different. Travellers can compare prices for various properties, check nearby amenities on Street View, make bookings via aggregator sites and read peer reviews on social media. This constant temptation by promotions, discounts and captivating images can make it seem as though customer loyalty is a thing of the past for hotels, particularly since the number of brands offering services has also been booming.
Indeed, research shows that few people today are loyal to one particular brand or provider repeatedly – the whole world is fickle, not just that of travel.However, don’t get despondent just yet. Actually, loyalty does still exist and brands that work to increase engagement can really reap the rewards in terms of long-term relationships and improved booking rates. And if you’re wondering how they do it and make their voices stand out, here are a few ideas and top tips. Understand what makes people loyalIt’s important to cater for the audience you know you will be getting when you’re creating your pricing options and scheduling your marketing efforts. For example, if you know you’re popular with couples on romantic getaways, tell them about the amenities for couples nearby and provide packages with couples’ spa treatments and champagne breakfasts.
Alternatively, if your guests are mostly corporate, promote your conference facilities and services like free Wi-Fi. Surveys may help you to discover what your guests value, whether that’s location, loyalty programmes, amenities or special dining options. Also, remember that you may need to try new tactics, as loyalty is changing; millennials may warm more to brands that have a presence on Instagram and YouTube, for instance, so content creation could become a big part of your engagement campaign.Take action if guests are moving on Many people will only book stays with you once, especially if they are on a one-off holiday in a particular location but aren’t planning on returning – that’s the way things are in hospitality. But if you are finding that you aren’t getting much repeat business at all, then it might be time to find out why there’s so little loyalty.
Again, surveys are your friend and could help you to address real issues, perhaps members of staff who aren’t pulling their weight or issues with the rooms. You can use this feedback to implement changes and put in place new engagement strategies.For example, if people say they prefer special prices or to receive money-off coupons to make them return, give it a try. Knowing what you’re not getting quite right is always important. Never stop personalising With so many brands out there, consumers like to feel as though they are important if they have used a service or made a purchase – and this is important for hotels. By making guests feel valued, they can increase the likelihood of those people coming back for more.
First, you need to use your existing information to understand your customers. Then you can target them with promotions based on things they have already enjoyed, or discount codes for being VIPs. You can also make the most of add-ons for first-time visitors, including Wi-Fi and conference facility access for business travellers or spa deals for hen parties. Another nice tip is to surprise them by remembering their birthday and sending out a message and a coupon code, or entering them into prize draws for merchandise or free stays.Don’t forget loyalty schemes It might seem obvious in an article about loyalty, but the reward programme isn’t a thing of the past and should still be remembered as a marketing tactic.
Many people remain interested in the discounts and perks they can provide, especially business owners sending their executives out on work-related trips.However, generic programmes will seem outdated; again, personalisation is the key here too. You could consider letting guests choose their own rewards from a selection at sign-up, or just do extensive research to find out precisely what your consumer base will be interested in. It might be something as simple as free Wi-Fi or access to Netflix in the rooms if you have a branded card, which doesn’t cost much to implement but can make a big difference to loyalty.Don’t forget to promote your schemes either, whether that’s through website banners, email marketing or check-in information, as people can’t join if they don’t know about it.
Actively target millennials You might feel as though they are a law unto themselves, but like it or not, millennials will be a big part of your target audience in the not-too-distant future and so you need to reach out to them and encourage them to be loyal to your brand.Remember that they are completely tech-savvy and won’t leave home without a smartphone about their person, but they don’t necessarily have a lot of money to spend on travel. They are also more likely than their parents to want an experience rather than just a holiday.To target them, make the most of your online channels (particularly Instagram), publish scores of aspirational photos, offer coupon codes and emphasise how your hotel has Wi-Fi, keyless entry, eco-friendly thermostats and other mod cons (and if it doesn’t, consider getting them).You can encourage loyalty afterwards by getting millennials to publish their holiday pictures with particular hotel social media hashtags, which capitalises on their need for sharing while also making them part of your marketing efforts.
Building up your customer loyalty should help your hotel to become more efficient, increase occupancy rates and reduce your marketing efforts by boosting word-of-mouth advertising. If you can keep hold of a guest, it’s more effective than having to chase new ones all year round.Why not try these tips and see if you can turn ordinary travellers into brand advocates?