By Kacey Bradley
There's no better resource for your business than customers who come back. For one thing, it's cheaper to retain their business — you don't have to entice them with deep discounts, nor do you have to spend money to market to them when they already love your brand. Plus, it's great for your business and its reputation when you have loyal customers who not only come back to visit but sing your accommodation's praises to their loved ones who need a place to stay, too.
1. Put Feedback into Practice
Even if a guest loves your hotel, they might have some suggestions to make their stay even better in the future. Take this type of feedback seriously and enact as many of the suggested changes as possible. For example, if your return guests say they're unhappy with the amount of time it takes to check in, consider adding a mobile service for doing so. And, when you've made such additions, be sure to publicize it, so your clients know. They'll also be pleased to know how seriously you take their opinions.
2. Start a Loyalty Program
According to research by Virtual Incentives, 56 percent of customers would be more likely to consider a brand if they received a personalized incentive. A loyalty program would solve that problem — with more stays, customers would receive discounts and gifts for coming back and lodging with you. And, of course, with these types of incentives to entice them to return, you'll have clients happy to remain loyal to your brand.
3. Make Booking Simple
Today's customer expects convenience when it comes to just about every industry. We can use our smartphones to order food, shop for clothes, hire a dog walker... it should be just as easy to find a room at your hotel. If your hotel doesn't already have its own app for browsing and reserving rooms, try finding a booking app to partner with and make the task simpler for you and your clients. With Hotel Tonight, for instance, you can entice guests to stay when you have last-minute vacancies — and that gives you a chance to delight repeat clients or rope in potentially brand-loyal customers.
4. Keep in Touch
You don't want your former guests forgetting about your hotel, nor do you want them missing out on updates, promotions or discounts you're running. So, find the right way to stay in touch with them when they're not checked into your accommodation. You could go the traditional route and share such news via email. Or, you could bulk up your social media presence to connect with clients via Instagram, Facebook and other platforms through which they can share, and you can, too.
5. Personalize Their Stays
A client who returns to your hotel often deserves a warm welcome. It's up to you to decide how to make them feel special upon check-in — perhaps you place a handwritten note in their room or have the manager call up to welcome them back personally. Some hotels have taken this step even further with the help of technology. With it, they can keep guests' special requests on file. If a person always asks for extra towels upon check-in or regularly cleans out the minibar's stock of sparkling water, the hotel will have the towels in the room pre-arrival and remove unwanted goods from the fridge in favor of extra H2O.
6. Train and Prepare Your Staff
Happy and helpful faces at the front desk. Knowledgeable concierge staff. Skilled chefs and creative bartenders. Your hotel won't retain clientele without the right staff — the people make the experience what it is, after all. So, be sure to hire a team willing to go the extra mile, especially for repeat customers. Along with that, ensure they have the tools to make their jobs simple and seamless for both them and the guests they're helping — upgraded technology can help greatly in this department, too.
7. Evaluate the Competition
Where else might a potentially loyal customer stay? Why? Once you figure out the answers to those questions, figure out how your hotel stands up. Once you pinpoint the business's weak areas — say, you charge 15 percent more for spa services than your neighbor, or they run more regular discounts — figure out how you can supersede their offerings with your own. Guests will start choosing your property over their other options once they see such boosted benefits.
8. Give Them a Goodbye Gift
Finally, check-out is the last chance you must impress a guest. You can make it count simply by extending a sincere thank you to a customer who has returned after a previous visit. Some hotels will take this a step further, though — they hand over parting gifts, such as a local snack or gift bag, that the client will surely enjoy. Then, they send a follow-up email or handwritten note through snail mail to thank guests for staying yet again. It's the little touches that go the longest way.
Enjoy the Loyalty
A happy guest is one who's more likely to come back to your hotel. With the above eight steps, you can make the lodging experience at your hotel more personal and memorable so that you're flooded with repeat customers who feel welcomed and appreciated every time they check in — and, as a hotel professional, that's all you could ever want to achieve.
Kacey Bradley is the blogger behind The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Guides for Brides, Hotel Online and more!