Just 22% of people consider themselves brand-loyal, but those who do are worth having on your side. A guest who considers themselves loyal will spend $25 more to book a room, indulge more in extra services and contribute to brand awareness by spreading word-of-mouth and online reviews.
Turning a guest from a bargain hunter into a loyal believer relies on guest engagement. The tricky part is keeping guest engagement from feeling gimmicky. For guests to truly rally behind your hotel, they need to have an emotional connection to what you’re offering. Going above and beyond is never easy, but with the right strategies and areas of focus, it’s something every hotel can make part of their DNA.
Stay Active Online
Hotels need to engage everyone, not just current guests. Having an active social media presence gives people a way to connect with your hotel even when they’re not actively booking. Fill your profiles with informative content, exciting pictures and appealing offers limited to followers and balance marketing posts with informative or aesthetically pleasing ones. You’ll stay on people’s minds all year long and they’ll have more incentive to talk about and share your content.
Make Direct Contact Early
Guest engagement doesn’t start when a guest walks through the door; it starts when they first hear about your hotel. That could be the moment they begin thinking about booking, or the first time they see your social media feed even before they have a trip in mind. Either way, don’t wait for guests to reach out. Instead, contact them to ask if they have questions or requests. This could mean a chatbot function on your website, connecting with followers on social media or emailing guests who have submitted a booking inquiry. Perfecting the guest experience is a lot easier when you know what individual guests need and want, so why not ask them directly?
Remember Your Guests
Guest engagement is a long-term strategy. Building profiles with data about an individual’s demographics, preferences and past history helps hotels deliver a seamless experience that’s tailored to each person. It’s much easier to create, update and leverage guest profiles if you have a PMS that automates the bulk of the effort.
If your goal is to engage guests, make sure to reward them for their loyalty. But instead of a generic loyalty program that only incentivizes direct bookings, give people a real reason to be involved with your hotel. Try customized perks, like a free massage for someone who loves the spa, or a free complimentary breakfast when someone leaves a positive review. When done well, loyalty programs build advocacy on top of engagement.
Be Engaging, Not Annoying
Lots of factors that can compromise guest engagement are uncontrollable, but being too persistent isn’t among them. Guests don’t want an onslaught of emails, texts, notifications and junk mail. It’s a fine line between too much outreach and not enough, but guests themselves reveal a lot about how they prefer to connect. For instance, if a loyal guest always books in the summer, step up your outreach efforts in late winter or spring. The hotel should always come off as helpful, not pushy.
Empower Your Staff
You can’t pre-package a perfect guest experience. The dynamic nature of travel means that unexpected needs come up all the time, and it’s the staff’s responsibility to satisfy them. As much as possible, give staff the freedom and resources to adapt to guests on the fly. That means having access to information, quick contact with all parts of the hotel and the autonomy to make independent decisions about customer satisfaction.
The hospitality industry is depends on guest engagement—and it’s not enough to focus on serving active guests who are currently on-site. Hotels needs to build a strong, personalized rapport with prospective and past guests, too, in the hopes of building lasting, loyal relationships. It’s time for all hotels to make engagement the centerpiece of their strategy.
RoomKeyPMS turns any hotel into a finely-tuned machine. This technology makes it easy to coordinate and customize everything you do to keep guests engaged inside and outside the hotel. Contact our team to learn how.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / BUNDITINAY