Loyal guests are invaluable to marketers.
Why? Because retaining customers costs less than attracting new ones. Customer loyalty speaks volumes about customer satisfaction, especially in an industry that faces increased competition.
According to PACE Dimensions, the travel and hospitality industry will see indirect competition become their most competitive challenge. Indirect competition refers to the makers of new markets, including Airbnb and Google.
While increased competition can be overwhelming, it’s also an exciting opportunity to find ways to compete for loyal customers.
Here are some of the ways you can inspire brand loyalty.
Offer the best booking and check-in experience
First impressions last.
For hotels, that impression starts with technology such as a website, a mobile app, or online accommodations providers like Booking.com or Trivago.
These touchpoints to technology are a must. For websites and apps, marketing efforts should focus on simplifying the booking process for a positive customer experience.
Why? Because if the process of finding and booking a room is difficult, customers are less likely to come back. The unpleasant experience may drive them to another hotel instead — one that is easy to book online.
When it comes to the in-hotel experience, make sure that check-ins are hassle-free. The guarantee of a more-than-satisfactory customer experience across all channels should be the goal of any hotel executive. These channels include initial online research through Google and TripAdvisor, or an interaction with your hotel’s website and app.
Know your audience
Knowing who your customers are is the first step in knowing how to talk to them. After all, one marketing message may work for a certain group of people but be meaningless to another.
Understanding your customers allows you to segment the market. Once you’ve been able to identify your target audience, you can better communicate to people who will most likely connect with your brand.
Your market research can look into categorizing your customers based on demographics, attitudes, purchasing behavior, or lifestyle. Once you know who you’re talking to, and who will listen, you can offer more personalized loyalty-encouraging experiences.
For example, let’s say you are a marketer for a new boutique hotel in Brooklyn. Your target customer is most likely a millennial, but further research can identify what this person values.
Personalize the experience
From customized confirmation emails to in-room gifts, tasteful personal touches will foster customer loyalty.
For example, a couple who stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in Cleveland received a hand-written note and chocolate for their anniversary stay at the hotel, according to a guest’s review on TripAdvisor. (The couple was asked if they were celebrating anything at the front desk.)
Part of personalizing the experience and retaining customers involves connecting with customers in a way that feels relevant and timely, not salesly or useless. This type of personalization includes addressability across the entire digital experience. “[Addressability] is a highly effective and scalable form of personalization,” according to the team at customer identity company Signal.
“It’s a way of connecting your product, content or offer with the people who’d be most interested in it, at the exact time they’re most ready to hear from you,” the team writes.
Be savvy on social media
Customers trust companies on social media. The interactions that take place between a company and customers create community, Lauren Smith, marketer at Litmus, writes. So it only makes sense to adopt a social media marketing plan.
Marketers should look into using social networking sites to sustain engagement and enhance customer loyalty. Include in your website testimonials from guests in your social plan.
Part of your plan can be offering discounts or perks for customers who share the best photos of their stay on Instagram. Implement a responsive approach on fast-paced platforms like Twitter, TripAdvisor, and Facebook, and be quick to answer queries made through these sites. Acknowledgement of your guest’s experiences goes a long way in creating interest and customer loyalty.
Now that you know what motivates customer loyalty, stay in touch with previous guests through custom email-marketing campaigns that are timely and relevant, and make sure it’s easy for them to share the email with family and friends.
Focus on service
Whether it’s online or at the hotel, before or after their stay, the customer service experience must be seamless and consistent to compete in today’s industry. Work to learn who your guests are so that you can craft marketing messages that resonate with them. Offer a personalized experience to create meaningful relationships with customers.
There is no better marketing than good customer service both offline and online. And good customer service is the first step towards creating customer loyalty.