Category Archives: Reviews

7 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty

Mississauga-Hotel-Amenities

 

Online hospitality is transforming into an industry defined by personalization, relevant content and the social experience travelers influence everyday. As this trend continues to unfold, it is becoming increasingly difficult to build brand loyalty. How do you win a customer over and keep them coming back time and time again, when the travel process starts earlier than it ever has, and is not over, even after booking and stay?

This is a dilemma that has been creeping up the alley of online hospitality marketers everywhere. Finding the right combination of social interaction, email marketing, promotional activities, etc. can be a fine line to walk. At the core of any successful business (or hotel in this case) is a loyal customer base. Customers are the primary factor in shaping the success of your hotel, resort, or lodge.

The question now becomes; how do we, as hotel marketers, build a customer base that is loyal, and remains that way for an amount of time that will prove to be profitable for our business? In a recent white paper released by Maxymiser, 7 primary ways to build a loyal customer base were revealed. Let’s take a look at each one, and explain the significance of each as it pertains to your business.

1. Ensure a Quality Experience - It is important to recognize that customers attitudes are shifting. What was once a market dominated by the best value, or lowest price, is (and really, already has) shifted to a market in which buyers are looking for an experience that will set one resort apart from another. When you are attempting to lay the foundation for a loyal customer base, keep in mind that travelers are looking for that once in a lifetime experience, that little something that makes their stay different from anywhere else.

2. Increased Ancillary Sales - Depending on the size of your hotel, ancillary revenue will obviously shift one way or the other. The tricky intersection of when and how to offer ancillary value to the traveler is one that hotel owners and GM’s have played with for years. When you are thinking of how to adopt a loyal customer base, think “Timing and Description.” It is important to offer an ancillary opportunity to the traveler at the right moment, as well as very clearly depict what exactly is being offered.

3. Personalization – According to data from Google, 83% of leisure travelers, and another 76% of business travelers now plan their travel online. The planning process includes anything from reviews, to price points, social media to video and visual assets. Because the road to selection is so clouted with variables, personalization becomes extremely important. The key to personalization is ensuring that the process begins in the earliest phases (research) and continues through the travel journey, concluding with personalized follow up, post trip.

4. Transform the Experience - Personalization can be thought of as points similar to what is explained above. However it can also be thought of as transforming an online experience to make the message more personal to the traveler, and enhancing the likelihood of purchasing. For example, a common message on several hotel sites is a “no availability” pop up of sorts, often times on the event calendar or booking engine. A simple way to improve this message, and make it a positive for the traveler is to add in something like “here are some other available dates that you may find helpful,” or something equating to a message of that nature in an attempt to squash any discouragement.

5. Ratings & Reviews – The always important and heavily relied on online reviews are a sure shot way to build a loyal customer base. Hotels with reviews are viewed as more credible in the eyes of the consumer. More credible sources typically have a higher rate of conversion and a more loyal customer base.

6. Leverage Social Media - According to independent research, one out of every four travelers uses social media to research and plan their vacation. Furthermore, a Forbes study of Facebook users revealed that 50% of travelers were “influenced” by seeing friends pictures of travel on Facebook. So what does this mean for your social media efforts? Billions of users scroll the pages of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more, everyday. It is important to have an understanding of your customer base and reach out to them in ways that connect to them on a personal level – if you are a family resort and your Facebook audience is comprised of families who have stayed with you before, put out relevant offers, offer special savings to your fans, etc.

7. The Mobile World – Development across the mobile platform has reached new heights in the previous months. Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have become more widely used than the everyday computer. Consumers are on the go. Plain and simple. In fact, tablet use is projected to spike by 180% in the next year alone. If you are a hotel marketer, this is big news. It is extremely important that your website is responsive – fits to exact screen sizes across multiple devices. Why is this so important? Failure to run a responsive site means that your messages, visuals and representation of your hotel are distorted when they are not viewed on a computer screen. The masses are moving to mobile and tablet. Your website must do the same!

Google & Reviews

Many of our business partners at ResortsandLodges.com have been given insight into the power of customer reviews: Reviews drive credibility, can be used as a tool to improve front end staff, as well as drive a higher conversion rate. As consumers continue to use reviews as a trusted source of online research in the hospitality industry, generating positive reviews becomes increasingly important.

New data and analysis from Digital Marketing Works, has revealed the importance of reviews as they pertain to Google, and the recently updated carousel feature in basic searches. The study, performed in June of 2013, revealed a strong correlation between average review rank and quantity and where hotels popped in the carousel search results. How strong was the correlation? To put it simply, the correlation between these data points was strong enough to yield that “Earned media (online guest reviews) is now a major component of Google’s search results for hotels.

So what does this mean for your business? Using the research as a platform for any type of actionable item, experts are urging hotel owners and GM’s to focus more on generating Google reviews. Of course, the standard platforms for reviews remain equally as important (Hotel Review Sites, Social Media, etc.).

To learn more, and to read the full article with data and analysis, click here.

Gaining Customer Loyalty

In the hospitality industry, it’s the latest, greatest hotel features, lowest prices, and most eccentric travel packages that seemingly draw the largest followings. That is great for large hotels, with the budget and marketing dollars to execute high level plans and build a “loyal” customer following. But what about all of the other guys? Not every hotel or lodge has the financial wiggle room to head-up major loyalty program efforts. Not to worry, there is a strategy to building a loyal customer following – and it can work for anyone. A recent article written by Ted Wham, VP of Travel Industry Solutions at Responsy’s (a Marketing Solutions company), goes into extensive detail around a 10 step plan, designed to build long term customer relationships and loyalty. Let’s take a look at the basics of the plan:

1. Analyze Weakness - To best serve your customers, it is critical to assess your own weaknesses as a company. Once weaknesses are brought to the forefront, improvements can be made, making your product better, and your customer happier.

2. Listen to Your Customers - It is important to determine both what the traveler wants, and how they want “it” delivered to them. Listen to your customers, and take into account the things that spending trends, market shifts, etc. might have on your demographic.

3. Understand Your Data - In order to fully understand your customers, you must first have a firm handle on your data. Capturing and applying key data in the marketplace can be one of the most beneficial and effective tactics in your arsenal.

4. Give it to the Traveler Right Now - Integrating real time details into your marketing efforts is a key element in gaining a loyal customer following. Make sure deals, packages, or special offers are all current and detailed correctly.

5. Keep the Customer Informed – As we all know, travel plans can change at the drop of a hat. It is important to keep your customers informed on anything that may alter their travel itinerary.

6. Embrace the Times - Travelers are researching, planning and booking their trips across multiple web devices everyday. Keep with the times – Understand how to use social media to your advantage. Twitter and Facebook have incredible reach capabilities.

7. Tie-In More Benefits - Travelers love free things – promotions, extended stays, etc. However, travelers also appreciate the little things being included in the premium price they are paying for lodging – things like airport shuttle service, rental cars, complimentary beverages, etc. The more the merrier.

8. Keep Customer Service Spot-On - As holds true in any business, customer service is crucial to consumer satisfaction. Make sure that your customer service efforts are solid – from booking time all the way through the check out.

9. Stand Out - Too many loyalty programs look alike. Be creative – develop ideas that are going to blow your customer away and keep them coming back for more.

10. Encourage Feedback - When the trip is over, don’t stop there! Follow up with your customer – dig deep into their experience. This goes back to analyzing weaknesses. Understanding the customer experience can lead to improvements for your hotel.

Full article found on MarketingProfs. To read the article in its entirety, click here.