Is a loyal guest more important than a first-time customer? Ask any hotelier and they would probably reply with something along the lines of: “No, all guests are equally valuable”.
The Value of Guest Loyalty
In a 2014 article published in Harvard Business Review, researchers found that hosting returning customers cost less compared to hosting new, first-time guests and customers. The article also states that “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”
More research was done by Bain & Company, headed by Net Promoter Score inventor, Frederick Reichheld. They found that higher guest loyalty scores equate to an increase in profits from anywhere between 25% to 95%. They noted that on average, guests are willing to spend up to $25 more on a hotel they are familiar with or have stayed with before. The numbers don’t lie—guest loyalty matters.
IMPROVING GUEST LOYALTY IN 2019
#1. Make The Booking Process As Simple As Possible
From the moment your guests' check-in to the minute they check-out of your hotel, every process should be as hassle-free as possible. If your hotel’s booking process is slow and demanding, guests might choose to stay somewhere else on their next visit.
This is particularly true for returning guests. Hotels should aspire to make the repeat booking and check-in experience for loyal customers a symphony of simplicity and speed.
Hotel systems should retain prior stay preferences to make a repeat booking both intuitive and convenient while offering relevant upsell options to improve the next stay experience.
Check-in should be virtual, allowing returning guests the ability to leverage time spent in transit to provide their arrival details and request a room key.
Similar to airline check-ins, some hotels now offer mobile or online check-ins with keyless and cardless room access. This allows guests to skip the paperwork at the front desk, and just head straight up to their room, unlocking their rooms using their smartphones.
#2. Have Fun: Guest Loyalty Incentives And Rewards
Depending on your hotel, you’ll need to make sure such rewards and incentives are relevant to the type of guests you receive. For example, leisure travelers and honeymooners will likely respond to different offers than business travelers.
If you want to keep it as simple as possible on your end and diversify less on rewards, it’s best to target your hotel’s core guest demographic.
#3. Add Tasteful Personal Touches When You Can
Whether it is a warm personal welcome, well-tailored recommendations, small gifts or perks; those personal touches can greatly help enhance a guest’s stay experience and work in your favor toward guest loyalty in the future. Baked goods, upgrades, complimentary bottle of water or mini-bar freebie are one of the easiest ways to put you on the fast track to a five-star review.
Adding personal touches get easier to implement as systems are set in place to facilitate your guest IQ. Treat each of their visits as a learning experience to find out what guests really want and take note of any details needed to retain or avoid on their next visit.
#4. Use Technology To Your Advantage
Here we are in 2019 living in the age of smart homes, on-demand transportation, and self-driving cars. Thanks to technology and a raised standard of convenience and comfort, hotel guests’ expectations of an evolving stay experience are changing rapidly.
As a business operating in 2019, it is perilous not to use modern technology to deliver on changing guest demands. Those demands extend beyond the check-in experience to the room as well - starting with the negative impression created by an old-fashioned magstripe lock versus a modern RFID or (even better) mobile keyless entry experience.
Now an ever-increasing number of hotels have incorporated mobile key technology into their businesses. Just like how smart homes can be unlocked via smartphone, an increasing number of hotels around the world now offer this option. Mobile keyless entry provides other benefits as well, such as the ability for guests to check into their hotel, skip the front desk queue, and head up straight to their rooms using their mobile device for room entry - forever changing the hotel check-in experience.
WHAT DO YOUR GUESTS REALLY WANT?
Simply put, if you are experiencing an increase in repeat visitation in your hotel, you can rest assured that you’re doing something right.
There’s nothing quite like seeing the friendly face of a happy customer again and again. Increasing the number of loyal repeat guests improves staff morale - especially hotel management. Loyal guests are walking word-of-mouth advertisements and can greatly contribute to a hotel’s positive reviews.