Winning your customer’s hearts and trust at the starting line does not guarantee their loyalty. No business wants to lose a customer, there is no rocket science to that. Plus, it is ridiculously expensive to convert a new customer instead of retaining one, around 5x to 25x more expensive to be specific. The customers who come back eventually become the “living proof” of reliable and trustworthy referrals.
Customer retention has never been an easy task, especially in the hospitality industry.
Loyal customers are worth so much more than one-time customers and have an array of benefits in the long run. Better customer retention can help you focus more on your strengths and less on your weaknesses. Customer retention isn’t easy, but it can be made simpler with some strategies and tactics in CiHMS’s today blog.
Social media – the understatement
In the hospitality industry, it’s a given that your customers are going to need some help from you now and then. Whether it’s making a reservation for their next stay or simply asking for directions, your guests will always be looking for ways to make their stay better.
The best way to ensure that your customers get what they need is by providing them with exceptional customer service. However, here’s the thing: most people don’t know exactly what they want until they have it. This is why keeping an eye on your customers can be so important — it allows you to see when their needs change so that you can adjust accordingly.
Social media is a great tool for communicating with guests because it gives them the ability to reach out at any time of day or night. You can use social media to answer questions about travel plans, and check-in procedures and even give recommendations for local restaurants and attractions! Social media is a key tool in customer retention. It enables companies to build relationships with their customers by engaging with them and promoting loyalty programs, special offers, and improved customer service.
Social media has steadily grown in importance as a retention tool over the past decade, with more than two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) now saying they believe social media is “critical” for generating loyalty, as customers are expecting quick responses. Millennials have even higher expectations of the responding rate at 10 minutes, while others expect answers within 60 minutes time span. Social media has become the 1-800 helpline, apparently.
Communicating with your customer via social media helps to close the gap and build a much stronger relationship voluntarily without noticing.
Loyalty programs help you keep the customers you already have by encouraging them to continue doing business with your hotel. Here are some of the ways these programs can benefit your hotel:
Reward repeat customers:
Loyalty programs are a great way to reward frequent guests and encourage them to return. For example, if you have a rewards program where guests earn points for every dollar spent, those who visit frequently will have a larger point balance than someone who visits only once or twice a year. Loyalty has been proven to increase repeat business. According to an article on PhocusWire, a loyalty program powered by technology, such as a hotel app, can be a big incentive for guests coming back, provided that it is designed in such a way that it offers real value, provided real-time information and guests can choose the rewards they want right on the system.
Loyalty programs also help encourage guests to book direct instead of through OTAs:
“Hotels are losing market share because of the rise in Airbnb and other vacation rental sites,” says Jeff Katz, president, and CEO of TravelClick, a provider of hotel marketing technology solutions. “They need to get more efficient and focus more on return guests.” Loyalty programs help encourage guests to book direct instead of through OTAs (online travel agencies). In fact, loyalty programs have been shown to increase direct bookings by as much as 40%. The key is making it as easy as possible for guests to enroll and then use their rewards points or free stays at any time during their next stay with your brand — whether they’ve already traveled with you before or not. Booking through your hotel’s website instead of using OTAs like Expedia or Hotels.com helps you save money on commissions and ensures that all profits from reservations go straight into your pocket (instead of being split between the OTA and your hotel). Furthermore, when guests book directly with the hotel instead of through an OTA, they tend to spend more money on amenities during their stay—and this extra spending adds up over time!
A loyalty program will help build a personal connection with guests.
Having a loyalty program shows customers that they’re valued members of your community—and this can make them feel more connected to your brand as well as more receptive toward marketing efforts like email campaigns or special offers on social media sites.
Analyzing available guest data to serve the guest
Why does this matter? As the customer journey becomes more complex, it is essential to ensure that each interaction builds on the previous one and contributes to the overall experience. This requires data collection and sharing across multiple channels. By leveraging guest data, hotels can make sure that their guests will have a personalized experience based on their individual habits and tastes which will satisfy them and increase customer loyalty.
Using guest feedback to improve your hotel’s overall service quality
After every stay, you can ask your guests to fill out a survey. The feedback you get will help you understand the needs and expectations of your clientele and can help improve the service quality at your hotel.
Using guest preferences to personalize their next visit
If you have a loyalty program in place, it’s time to use it! You can create personalized offers based on what guests like most about your hotel and what they want more of during their next stay. This way, you’ll be able to personalize the offer for each customer and increase their retention rate by offering exactly what they want.
The loyalty program encourages customers to preferably choose to stay at your hotel on the next visit if they have had great experiences in their previous stays.
Personalized marketing campaigns based on customer behavior
After analyzing how customers interact with your hotel website or app, it’s possible for brands to identify different types of visitors using this information as input for their marketing strategy. For example, if customers are browsing through multiple pages on the website but don’t make any purchases, this might mean that they need more information about what makes staying at your hotel unique in order for them to convert.
Integrating new technologies
Incorporating new technologies into your guest experience is a powerful way to increase customer retention. While some hoteliers are hesitant to embrace technology and go on their digital transformation journey, especially given the high price of hospitality management solutions, those who do use these tools often report that they deliver a high ROI, and pay for themselves in just a few years.
Hoteliers have seen tremendous success with virtual reality and augmented reality technologies like VR headsets and interactive displays, offering guests greater personalization, and in-depth immersive experiences with extraordinarily memorable experiences, such as a quick hotel tour, a sneak peek at the neighborhood attractions, etc.
Thanks to modern technology, hotels can be able to create extraordinary guest experiences for customers during their stay.
Integrating AI-powered chatbots has also proven to be an effective method of improving the customer experience and increasing retention rates. Marriott has rolled out a Marriott Rewards Chatbots chatbot. It works on Facebook Messenger as well as Amazon Alexa devices in multiple languages, and handles simple questions about hotel amenities or provides information about the local area. It can also use predictive intelligence in order to offer recommendations about restaurants or tourist attractions based on user preferences; this helps it create more personalized engagements with guests. In addition to that, Marriott had introduced the ChatBotlr butler robot to help out guests in the lobby. These changes had helped Marriotts not only leverage the labor shortage—the ongoing issue within the hospitality industry itself but also enable Marriotts to respond to their customers’ needs in time.
Following Marriott’s footsteps, a concierge robot name Connie was put into work at Hilton. Based on IBM’s Watson AI platform for natural language processing, Connie was made to reduce wait line time, maximize hotel employees’ work performances, and above all create unique touch and surprise the guests.
The hospitality industry is in a period of great change post-pandemic, and it is important to keep up with new technologies and trends. It’s no secret that the hotel sector faces new challenges every day—new customer expectations, new competition, and the need to adapt in order to thrive. The hotel industry has always been about providing service for guests but with an increasingly competitive marketplace, there’s a need for every hotel to make sure that it’s doing everything possible to serve its guests well. This means providing customers with the kind of high-quality service they’ve come to expect from their hotels. Hotels that provide excellent customer service are more likely to retain loyal customers, which can help them build strong customer relationships and increase business growth. In order to achieve such, investing in a powerful hospitality management solution, like CiHMS is absolutely a must to automate all hotel daily operations, optimize your revenue and maximize staff’s performances, to help hoteliers have the time to focus on the customers. To learn and explore more about CiHMS, contact our team for a detailed consultancy and the best solution that fit your own business model.
Customer retention is one of the most important issues facing hoteliers today, and it’s one that they need to take seriously. If they want to survive, they must make customer retention a priority. Customer retention is not a glamorous concept—it calls for hard work, consistent communication, and loyalty on behalf of the entire team. If hotels don’t plan their customer retention strategies carefully and persevere with them, this process will become a monumental burden for the hotel in question.