Working so closely with hoteliers from coast-to-coast, we hear the question all the time: how do we create loyal customers? After all, having a loyal customer base means getting reliable repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals – both of which are integral to long-term success. And yet, for many hotel operators, building that base feels like a moving target. But we know it’s not.
Establishing a loyal base of customers does take effort and strategy, but it’s absolutely possible. To get you started, here are the 5 Most-Overlooked Best Practices for Growing Customer Loyalty.
Best Practice #1: Befriend Your Guests
Guests love to be remembered – but in order to get to that point, you must first get to know them. This means starting conversations that are more memorable than discussions of the weather. Encourage your front desk staff to not only ask questions about guests’ goals for their stay, but to also follow-up with those guests as their visit progresses. Advise restaurant servers, bartenders, and coffeeshop baristas on the importance of remembering guests’ preferred orders. And, perhaps most importantly, be sure managers (especially top managers) make an effort to get to know guests, too.
Best Practice #2: Take Notes
As hospitality technologies continue to improve, look for solutions that allow you to track notes about guests’ preferences. For example – imagine visiting the same resort several years in a row and having last year’s stay nearly ruined when your son got a terrible sunburn early on. Now, imagine how impactful it would be if, as you checked-in this year, the front desk staff let you know that management comped a day in a poolside cabana (to protect the little ones). Now, that’s a level of service you’d never forget!
Best Practice #3: Update Your Website
Too many hoteliers have a “set it and forget it” attitude when it comes to their website, but realistically, that’s the first interaction most guests have with your property. Update your photos regularly (at least seasonally). Feature staff both in the site’s photos and in profiles (perhaps in a blog format). Include social proof, such as testimonials or links to reviews. When the goal is to create loyal customers, it’s important to recognize the role your hotel website plays in establishing positive opinions and setting realistic expectations – even before guests receive their first email from you.
Best Practice #4: Make Contact Early
Consumers are tired of sales-oriented ads and emails – but there’s an often-overlooked opportunity in that period of time between booking the room and stepping through the doors. During this window, guests can actually be excited to hear from you! Send updates about events that are happening during their stay (even if it’s simply inviting them to your poolside happy hour on their first night). Make suggestions for activities during their stay, such as booking a massage in one of your open-air spa cabanas. Whatever it is that differentiates you from the competition, it’s time to highlight it to your guests.
Best Practice #5: Don’t Forget Them
To create loyal customers, you need to put some effort into nurturing the relationships. Today’s email marketing tools make it easy to automate messages for your guests’ special occasions – like “Enjoy a Complimentary Cabana Rental for Your Birthday!” Similarly, if a couple hosts their wedding on your property or chooses to stay with you on their honeymoon, be sure you schedule a ‘happy anniversary’ message for the following year.
Let’s talk about how our cabanas have helped our clients create loyal customers.
At Resort Cabanas (a division of Eide Industries, Inc.), we specialize in designing, manufacturing, and engineering custom commercial cabanas and pre-engineered options. With almost 80 years of extensive design, construction, metal fabrication, industrial sewing, and installation experience, we are proud to offer the highest quality products possible, made right here in the U.S.