What is a brand? It's easy to get swept up with shiny marketing campaigns and think it's all about advertising, but the core of any successful brand is the sum total of interactions people have with the business at any stage, online or offline. For hotels that runs all the way from the booking process through to check-out and beyond.
The front desk is arguably the best place you can build a hotel brand. If your service is top drawer you'll nurture loyal guests. If it's not, you risk damaging your brand forever. You can't control every interaction, but given the recent news about how bad British hotels are at service, there are 3 simple ways to use front desk to boost your brand:
1. Use upgrades wisely
Guests might try and get an upgrade for free, but simply upselling can have a similar positive impact. A survey of 1,000 online reviews by Brand Karma, found hotels receive an online score of 4.6 when they sell a guest an upgrade (compared to 4.7 when they give them a free upgrade).
Guests who pay for an upgrade give the same hotels a 4.2 value for money score, which again is almost the same as when an upgrade is given complimentary.
The lowest satisfaction scores were given when a guest was offered, but rejected an upgrade. This means training your front desk staff well to know when to sell, and when to pass on a potential up-sell. Train your front desk staff to think about objectives both online and offline. How can you provide a stay that leads to a positive online result for the business?
2. Make them want more
The second time a guest comes to you they have no reason to book via a third party. Give them something in- or post-stay that makes them want to come back.
This doesn’t have to be an upgrade; instead you could provide discounted food & beverage, a free night, or a discount on hotel facilities. Go the extra mile while you've got them and the next direct booking is yours.
3. Put rates front (desk) and centre
We've heard stories of bookers calling front desk staff when they've found a cheaper deal elsewhere. The response from the front desk staff is that there's nothing they can do to help. That's up to 20% revenue lost to commissions by your own team!
Imagine how much more confident your guests would be that they’re getting a good deal if your staff were as up to the date on room rates as OTAs? Empower your staff with revenue management tools like PriceMatch that make it simpler to manage and inform staff. People have this information in their pockets now - there's no reason why your staff shouldn't be one step ahead.
It can become easy to focus on the online part of travel given just how big the industry is, but when it comes to it, service is still king.
Get it right and your hotel brand will fly.