This year's Annual Hotel Conference in Manchester will focus on a crucial issue for hoteliers: how to connect and communicate with prospective guests. While this concern affects even the largest hotel chains, it is perhaps most pressing for smaller, independent operators, who have to make up for not enjoying the same huge marketing budgets by developing a more personal relationship with guests to encourage repeat stays.
Surveys consistently show that travellers visit an array of different websites before completing their booking. This clearly represents a missed opportunity for hotels, who seemingly often fail to persuade customers that the best route for completing their booking is through their own direct channel. Patrick Bosworth, co-founder and CEO of Duetto, points out that this problem can be addressed by building up loyalty amongst existing customers from the moment they book, to establish a solid (and hopefully expanding) core of loyal and returning customers. We've come up with 4 simple steps to build a positive relationship with prospective bookers:
Step 1. Excite
Right from the moment of booking, there are opportunities to get travellers excited ahead of their trip. At this point, communication can help reassure guests of the great experience they will enjoy at your hotel, as well as allowing you to get to know a little more about them by asking questions about their preferences.
Step 2. Deliver
However, the next step is to live up to the expectations that your guests will have. When guests arrive, improving their stay can be as simple as removing unwanted cucumbers from a salad – it’s the little things that will demonstrate you care about getting to know what customers want and care about. Listening to your customers is essential for heading off the unwanted negative reviews that can dramatically impact your future business.
Step 3. Reinforce
Once this relationship is in place, you can cultivate it through considered and select correspondence by newsletter or social media: the last thing you want to do is bombard your guests with unwanted noise. Nevertheless, taking steps to maintain these connections with guests can be an important part of winning repeat business, encouraging your existing customers to book direct with you rather than shopping around on OTAs and other hotel websites.
Step 4. Sustain
It is important to stay in touch with your guests before, during and after their stay, allowing you to get creative. Perhaps there is a memorable local attraction that guests often come to visit, or something distinctive about your hotel or its website? Thread it through your communications to make sure you stand out in guests’ minds as more than just another marketing email. Likewise, make sure you know the profile of your client-base and tailor your emails accordingly. As we say, it’s the little things that count.
Have you come across a great way to communicate with guests? Please share it using the comments below!