Let’s talk about this old dream hotel: loyalty customers live and get rid of the yoke of OTA. Is it a really attainable goal or a simple utopia?
At the moment, I do not think it’s possible to completely remove these OTAs to just live. However, this does not mean that you can not improve your customer loyalty very much, and thus reduce your commissions. The solution lies in the implementation of an effective strategy.
Too often, loyalty is likened to “making e-mailing campaigns”. Even if these are key, how do you explain that several hotels have a very high percentage of loyal customers while they do not do mailing?
After 4 years of testing on nearly 200 hotels, here are some of the dominant factors that stand out as common denominators in hotels that build customer loyalty.
Why is customer loyalty so important?
It is recognized today that the cost of acquiring a new customer increases year by year. Hoteliers are increasingly bleeding, one way or another, while their number of rooms does not increase in proportion, to the point sometimes to make them bloodless.
This is a fact: even a new customer who booked with you via your official website cost you a fortune (site creation costs, booking engine, adwords, meta search, etc.)!
Added to this is a phenomenon of roller coaster quite disconcerting: bookings flock, disappear, increase and then fall again … Not to mention many other realities somewhat confusing as the “last minutes” become a fashion, etc.
Why do you have to work so hard to build customer loyalty?
- Your profit will increase in proportion to the number of your loyal customers;
- You will create some financial security and therefore reduce your daily stress. The substitute strategy: “You have to fill in so we drop the priiiiixxxxx! “Will go down too;
- You are working on a long-term strategy and thus value your product.
All your customers are not the same
Customer John is not equal to customer Luc or customer Bob. Each of your customers is different and must be approached from a different angle when trying to build loyalty.
In addition, some customers will be more easily “loyal” than others. Examples:
The tourist returning periodically to your area for personal reasons
The professional having the absolute necessity to come to your area for his work.
A tourist will be delighted to have a fidelity code and ask to be reminded regularly. A professional (depending on the size of his business) will gain loyalty by offering a linear rate to the purchasing manager of his company.
The quality of customer service
Among the many surveys carried out, the quality of customer service is still one of the major factors that leads a customer to become loyal.
The beds, walls and TV are not going to turn a new customer into a regular. It is your staff, the human relationship and the care you provide to the special requests and well-being of your client that will help you win this challenge.
The most important element is the quality of your service and advice. Have fun taking some of the best hotels you know and check out their reviews on the internet. All without exception mention how welcoming and helpful the staff was.
How to improve the quality of your customer service?
- Anticipate the needs;
- Be interested in what your customers will do during their stay and advise them;
- Have a preferred communication channel in case of problems;
- Detect constantly the points that have hindered your customers and correct them;
- Forget the answer “No” or “It’s not possible”. Find an alternative that will fit the needs of your customers.
You think that will take a lot of time. Rest assured, there are powerful and automated tools to help you.
Another component, equally important: the training of your receptionists. Very often, the problem does not come from a lack of will of your staff but a lack of knowledge. Invest on them: they will be happy to discover how to improve.
To obtain the best customer service, you must anticipate their needs and desires, be considerate and listen to them. Do not think that you already know everything that is wrong with your hotel. Question your customers continually about this.
Create a loyalty program
Card, code, benefits …, during your life you must have seen any type of loyalty program in all possible areas.
After experiencing almost every conceivable and applicable hotel solution, my highest rate of success was with the most basic tool: a promo code with a palpable benefit.
In short and to keep it simple, the formula to communicate to all your customers is: “You are now a privileged customer of my hotel. By using the code BLACODE on our site, you will be able to benefit from 10% of reduction on all our tariffs, throughout the year. “