Every hotel wants more loyal guests. The rewards for individual properties are well documented; loyal customers:

  • Are less likely to be lured away by a competitor’s marketing efforts
  • Require less marketing expenditures to encourage return visits
  • Are more likely to recommend a hotel to friends and relatives – in person or by posting to an online review site like TripAdvisor

And more importantly, research shows loyal customers, when managed properly, are significantly more profitable than an average guest.  The Intercontinental Hotel Group reported that members of its loyalty program are twice as profitable as their average guest and those members who earn elite status are 12 times more profitable.

That’s why a recent survey entitled Feeling the Love From the Loyalty Club published by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council should be required reading for every hospitality marketing professional.  According to the survey:

Both customers and marketers agree: deeper engagement and personalized content drive loyalty – not mass blast communications and gimmicks.

This shouldn’t come as any surprise. In The Seven Deadly Sins of Email Marketing for Luxury Hotels published over two years ago “failing to personalize and segment your message” and “accepting an Email Blast mentality” were two of the seven sins.

Need to Personalize

Today’s traveler is far more sophisticated than ever before. And they want your messages to be personalized. According to the CMO survey:

  • 58% of consumers surveyed want more compelling and personal benefits and services
  • 52% want more compelling personal deals and offers

Hospitality marketing professionals dedicated to delivering personalized communications with relevant offers and content will be the Loyalty Leaders. “Relevant” information is what guests want to hear – not the incessant sales pitches far too many (desperate) hoteliers deliver.

Too Much SPAM

Again, according to the survey, the biggest negative guests associate with loyalty programs is the amount of SPAM they receive. I doubt many hoteliers view their email messages as SPAM, but the truth is oftentimes it is.  In fact 44% of respondents complained they were getting too much SPAM or junk email.

When a guest gives you their email address it is not a license to constantly “blast” them with irrelevant messages designed almost exclusively with the hotel’s own self interest in mind – sell rooms. Loyalty is about relationships not transactions.

Give your guests more credit. They can tell when a hotel is romancing them and genuinely interested in deepening the relationship and when a hotel is just trying to get them to open their wallet. (FYI – this is the #1 Deadly Sin.)

So what’s the secret to building a larger and more loyal customer base?  Simple:

  • Develop a customer centric communications strategy.  Treat people as individuals
  • Personalize your communications and talk to guests on a one to one basis
  • Don’t over communicate. Remove “email blast” from your marketing lexicon
  • Surprise and delight loyal customers with perks, rewards and value-adds
  • Seriously consider using an outside communications firm with direct marketing specialists on staff who know how to:
    • Segment your database
    • Develop relevant content and compelling offers
    • Nurture and deepen the relationship over time

Hospitality marketing professionals looking to increase customer loyalty need to follow the golden rule – treat each guest the way you want to be treated.  That means giving them what they want in a relationship

What do you think?  Safe travels – Madigan Pratt

AUTHOR: Madigan Pratt

Madigan Pratt is President of MP&A Digital & Advertising, an award-winning agency helping luxury hotels attract and retain profitable customers. Principals with over 60 years of collective experience at some of the world's largest advertising and direct marketing companies lead the agency's team of marketing, creative, public relations, Internet and social media professionals.

3 Comments
  • So many of the hotels we deal with aren’t buying into the personalized benefits and services as much as they should. They ask us to come up with ideas for in-room gifts that would go in EVERY room, when their time and energy would be better spent coming up with personalized items for select guests. More often than not, these amenities go unused or unnoticed altogether.

    March 12, 2010
  • Rejith

    Hi Madigan,

    What you have discussed about cuctomer loyalty is absolutely correct. The more you personalise with your guest, the more likely they would come back. So is the importance of avoid sending the junk mails. Good article!!

    Rejith
    Canada.

    March 13, 2010
  • Another good way to personalize a hospitality marketing campaign is to use personal urls. An example of a Personal URL would be: yoursite.com/Jim.Smith and when “Jim” visits his personal url, the website will usually be customized to him. Can have information such as information on his last stay, and future promotion an deals he might be interested in based on his past activity.

    It also allows the marketer to track who is responding.

    March 14, 2010

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