Your most profitable reservation comes from direct repeat guests.
Taking care of the modern, tech-savvy guest can seem overwhelming. After all, each has unique needs and preferences, and varying expectations and opinions. With the click of a button a guest may comment, post, and leave reviews about experiences (good or bad) before, during, and after their stay. How is it possible to satisfy each individual need? And would personalizing your guest’s experience really help the bottom line?
Studies show that even a 5 percent increase in customer retention can lead to staggering profit increases of 25 to 95 percent. According to the J.D. Power 2015 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, providing a positive guest experience has a dramatic effect on the likelihood of a return visit, as well as the possibility that a guest will recommend the hotel to others.
Successful independent hotels and chains know there’s opportunity in catering to guests and engaging them for repeat stays. The following tactics help personalize experiences and increase engagement with your property:
Collect contact information. Unless a guest booked directly through your booking engine, chances are you may not have their contact information. If you do, great! But if not, it’s as simple as asking a guest to provide a mobile number and email address when checking in. This information is gold – it allows you to communicate with them directly both during and after a stay. Perhaps there is a list of sightseeing activities you email a few hours after they arrive. Maybe it’s a text message letting them know extra towels are coming, or a reminder about the WiFi password. Having their contact information also creates opportunities later to solicit survey responses, and follow up with guests after check out with incentives to return.
Ask guests to complete surveys and rate your property online. According to a recent Cornell study, a 1-point swing on Travelocity’s 5-point rating scale increases room rates on average by 11 percent. Not only is there an obvious financial value in raising review scores, but there’s value in engaging with guests while soliciting their feedback. Maybe you hand a guest a survey at check out and explain you would love to hear from them. Maybe it’s a survey emailed to them 4 hours after they leave. Not only will surveys help identify the good and bad in your guest’s experience, but they also enable you to ask specific guests to rate your property online. Bad reviews? Follow up with a personal email or phone call and express genuine regret. Rave reviews? Thank them for their stay and follow up, encouraging them to comment on TripAdvisor or in their online social network. Finally, there’s another step that great hotels take: they publish positive social media reviews on their website’s homepage.
Encourage guests to book direct. I recently – yes it’s true – booked a last-minute hotel stay on a leading OTA. (The desired property showed no availability, while the OTA showed rooms available – a topic for a different day!) When I checked into the hotel, the front desk clerk thanked me for staying at their property and immediately acknowledged that I’d booked through a third party. She then smiled and asked, “Did you know if next time you book directly on our website, you’ll get some nice advantages?” She then quickly told me about lowest rates, free bottled water, reward points, and handed me a card with their web address and a reminder that booking directly is better for me. With simple training and an inexpensively printed card, this hotel was making sure their guests were educated and incentivized to book directly. By the way, they sent me a thank you email shortly after check-out which again reminded me of the benefits of booking direct, with a hyperlink to their reservation booking page.
Does your booking engine collect the right information and drive increased booking conversions? Are you interested in how the right booking engine can improve guest engagement and increase direct bookings at your hotel?