Competition in the hospitality sector has always been fierce. The rise of home-sharing services like Airbnb and VRBO makes it even more so. More than ever, hotel owners and operators have to be at the top of their games to build that solid base of customer loyalty so beneficial to occupancy and revenue.
So how exactly can hotels create those loyal customers? Below are some suggestions:
Loyalty programs. These initiatives have become commonplace in the industry because they are so effective. These programs typically work as guests accumulate points by staying nights in a chain’s hotels. As points build, guests gain benefits like free room upgrades, complimentary access to buffet breakfasts, executive lounges and spas, and free stays. Hotel rewards programs can feature a branded credit card that allows members to build points when they make purchases.
Attentive, personalized customer service. This might seem obvious, but it’s absolutely critical to building loyalty. Hotels that build a base of repeat guests are prioritizing outstanding customer service.
Store useful information about guests – such as their preferred room location – in your property management software so that agents can access that at the time of booking. Seek a customer’s feedback during his or her stay, not afterwards; give them a call to ask, “Are you satisfied with your room? Is there anything we can do to improve your stay? Do you need any assistance with your checkout or your trip to the airport?”
Consider giving guests access to features like mobile apps, voice-control services, self check-in and keyless entry to improve the ease of their stay. Operators can also offer guests complimentary or reduced admission to local attractions and tourist hotspots to win loyalty.
The right onsite amenities. These will vary based on a property’s target audience, but it’s imperative that operators understand what kind of features their guests want in their hotel. Whether it’s a fitness center on par with a commercial gym or simply a free continental breakfast, guests want what they want, and won’t return to a hotel whose amenities they find lacking. Operators, large and small, should always continually monitor how the preferences of a target demographic are changing. This insight will enable a greater ability to proactive implement new and exciting amenities that will keep guests coming back.
The right in-room entertainment. Gone are the days when guests were content with a limited cable package on their TV and access to a menu of pay-per-view movies.
At home, today’s guests – especially millennials and Generation Zers – rely on streaming content. Either on their mobile devices or on devices that plug into televisions, such as Roku, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV. They want to replicate that experience when they travel. So today’s hotels need to offer guests the ability to stream and cast content from their smartphones and other devices.
With technology rapidly changing, in-room entertainment systems should be future-proof. This ensures systems can easily accommodate whatever evolution lie ahead.
In the end, there’s no single magic answer to building customer loyalty. Only by taking a multi-pronged approach that includes the recommendations above will operators create that desired base of repeat customers.