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