Getting to know your target market is the cornerstone of any strong business strategy. Nowhere is this as pertinent as in the hospitality industry, where the phrase “the customer is king” is a ruling mantra. By identifying and catering to your ideal guests, you can foster a stable, loyal customer base that will keep your business thriving for years to come.
Making the Best Guest List
When it comes to hotels in particular, there are certain key characteristics that make a “best guest.” These ideal patrons may not all look, act or sound the same, but they have three things in common—all of which can directly benefit your bottom line.
- They’re loyal, repeat customers. With each visit to your hotel, a guest becomes more and more likely to return. Take note when a guest is visiting for a second time and ensure they’re given exceptional treatment to turn them into a lifelong customer.
- They spend money. Target your efforts toward guests that love your hotel and continue to come back whether the rooms are on sale or not. These are not your Priceline, Booking.com or Expedia bargain hunters, who hop from promotion to promotion. Your ideal guest is looking for a choice hotel that prioritizes customer service.
- They’re brand ambassadors. Whether in everyday conversation, on online review sites or via social media, your best guests are those who spread the word about their positive experiences at your hotel. A sophisticated PMS will have guest engagement features that make it easy to track reviews, so you can reward your brand ambassadors with discounts and perks whenever you see them singing your praises.
All of these behaviors can make a huge difference to your revenue per available room (RevPAR) and average daily rate (ADR) numbers.
Retaining Ideal Customers
If you try to market your services to everyone, you’ll end up reaching no one. As a savvy manager, you need to customize your marketing, promotions and relationship-building strategies to keep your ideal customer coming back and to attract more guests like them.
Apply Feedback to Future Experiences
Use departure surveys to gain a deeper understanding of what your customers liked and didn’t like about their stay. For example, if your best guests tell you that in-room dining service is important if they are to return, you’ll invest in, refine and highlight this service. Conversely, if your top customers give you low marks on line-up times for check-in and check-out, you can scale your staff accordingly to reduce these wait times.
Pay Attention to Their Preferences
Social media intelligence can help you learn which countries your preferred guests come from, languages they speak and their gender. It can also give you information about their occupations, lifestyles and hobbies, which can help you customize your offerings and services.
Beyond social media, many property management systems are integrated with a hotel’s operations. This tool can consolidate information such as preferred payment methods as well as times your guests like to book a room, check in, check out and order room service.
You’ve already identified that your A-list, revenue-generating guests aren’t looking for a cheap or free stay, so avoid offering free nights or slashed rates. Rather, enhance their stay by offering perks at your hotel.
If your research indicates a guest always visits during a certain time of year, call them in advance and offer them first pick of hotel rooms. Or provide special services like a driver to any destination within the vicinity during their stay or a discount coupon for a nearby partner restaurant. Many of these offerings won’t cost you anything, but can go a long way toward making your guests feel valued.
Personalize Their Experience
As you get to know your customers, you should continue to develop your relationship to earn their loyalty. Have a senior manager call a guest after they’ve checked in to greet them by name and see if they’re comfortable. Or you could write a personalized note to thank a couple for their stay.
These measures require you to understand the preferences of individual guests, rather than the general statistical habits of a group. Because this will take some manual work, such as studying an individual guest’s comments or file history, be sure to only reward your very best guests with this treatment.
In the eyes of a revenue-conscious business manager, your top guests are like Hollywood headliners. Rolling out the red carpet for them will make them feel like celebrities and give a blockbuster boost to your bottom line.
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