How to earn it with or without a loyalty program
I would consider myself a pretty frequent traveller so this is a topic that i was excited to write about. Loyalty programs haven’t been around that long in truth. They first appeared back in the 80’s (which officially and rather scarily makes them younger than me!) with frequent traveller programs which the travel industry began imitating and the rest as they say is history.
So what is brand loyalty exactly? It is a faithfulness to one brand over others. If a customer is willing to pay more money for a product or a service over those that offer a similar service, then we’re talking about real loyalty. So those guests of yours that keep coming back again and again? They are the customers you definitely want to keep returning and we’re going to look at how you can get them to do just that.
In the hotel industry customer loyalty can be measured in different ways, for example, those who visit frequently, those who book direct, or those with larger budgets to spend on their stay. According to a survey conducted for Expedia in 2017, the factors that influence customer loyalty are; quality of offering 71 %, price 59%, customer service 59%, rewards 46%. This tells us most assuredly that the price is not the most important factor when it comes to customers being loyal to your brand. Many hotels have decided to lower prices to create guest loyalty, but there are some more sustainable ways we want to share with you to build that loyalty in your customers without compromising finances.
If you are asking yourself if your hotel needs a loyalty program here are some points to look at.
- Deliver on brand promises: It’s an easy way to increase loyalty among your guests. If you fail to deliver your promises to a client they probably will not return, if you do, they might come back, but if you aim to exceed their expectations, you have a client that will want to return and will tell everyone else too. From personal experience, it’s always the little things that make the biggest difference. I could regale you with my own tales of expectations that were both exceeded and disappointed but I couldn’t compete with this wonderful story. I strongly advise you to follow the link to read the very heartwarming tale of a hotel that really did go the extra mile: https://redpointspeaks.com/blog/how-one-hotel-housekeeper-won-my-brand-allegiance-and-my-heart/
- Get the whole team on board: Your staff can make or break your hotel as the above experience shows. And when it comes to return guests it’s vital to make your staff aware of the importance of frequent guests. They should try and be aware of their likes and dislikes, their needs and wants as it will make it easier for them to offer the best service possible.
- Recognize frequent guests: try offering them incentives that make them feel special. Perhaps an offer to “stay 4 nights and receive one free night”, a personalized welcome back note or an amenity from the manager, preferred rates or room, early check-in or late check-out, free stays, free breakfast or wi-fi.
- Use post-stay surveys to boost loyalty: These allow to identify the guest’s satisfaction and address the key issues in order to improve it.
- Join a Loyalty Network: If you decide not to implement your own loyalty program or you don’t have the budget to do so, you can join loyalty networks such as Voila, The Guestbook, Wanup among others or create partnerships with other loyalty programs provided for airlines, banks or retails.
Finally, remember that customer loyalty is not a difficult or mysterious concept. It requires forethought, customer interest and the adoption of certain strategies to suit you. Remember, the value of the returning guest cannot be overestimated as these loyal customers can help you to grow and develop your business. And as we’re sure you’ll agree nothing is more important than that!