To cultivate long-term loyalty, hoteliers need to establish a connection, build rapport and tailor offerings with their ideal guests in mind.
Do you love your guests?
I’ve recently starting working with a new client. This was a referral and led me into a sector of the industry I’ve not worked in before. But do you know what? I’ve loved working with them. The reason why? Because everyone I’ve dealt with has the same values, and because of this, we’ve hit it off from day one.
The result? I’ve been at my best. And that means a happy client—and a happy me.
As hoteliers, could the same always be said for your relationship with your guests?
If you are attracting the type of guests who either don’t appreciate what you do (the discount and voucher hunters come to mind) or those guests with whom you have absolutely nothing in common, then you’ll unlikely enjoy working with them. And this undoubtedly will show.
It’s not a good recipe for long-term loyalty.
You need to be able to have that connection and build rapport to engage with your guests. This means you’re in a better position to know what they want and meet their expectations. It’s a prerequisite if you want to keep your sanity and have a healthy business.
Leverage your likes
What is important to you? What are the values by which you want to run your business?
If sustainability is important in your hotel, you’ll want to attract guests who value the same. If you love the outdoors, you probably want to attract people who share this enthusiasm. If you’re passionate about your pooch, you might welcome dog lovers. If service excellence is your most important value, you’ll want to attract people who value service.
Whatever it is—whether it’s a sport, hobby, principle or interest—the clearer you are on what’s important to you, the easier it is for you to establish your ideal guest. Who would you like to attract as returning and future guests?
Knowing who your ideal guest is means you can tailor everything you do with them in mind, increasing your chances of attracting them (and not just those who fail to appreciate what you do, spend less and complain in the process).
Target your market
Too many places try to appeal to everyone and end up satisfying no one.
You can always tell a hotel that has no specific target market in mind, as they are not focused and are inconsistent with what they do. They tend to offer far too much choice, as well as things that don't necessarily complement one another. Not only does it make life more difficult for you having to appeal to so many different needs, but also it makes it very difficult when it comes to marketing your business and attracting new guests.
This doesn’t mean to say that you won’t have more than one category of guest. For example, you may focus on corporate business during the week but still be a perfect destination for a romantic weekend break. Having two or three target groups can be healthy to help level out the peaks and troughs, and it minimizes the risk if any one target group comes under threat of returning.
But keep in mind the compatibility of your two or three main target markets—to one other and just as importantly—to you.
Caroline Cooper specializes in helping hospitality businesses retain their existing customers by focusing on the customer experience and long term engagement. She has over 25 years’ experience hospitality and is founder of Zeal Coaching, and author of the 'Hotel Success Handbook'.
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