We all know direct bookings make the difference for independent hoteliers. So turning guests into loyal travelers and repeat customers is essential for retaining business and increasing occupancy. Loyal travelers essentially create a lifetime revenue stream meanwhile referring friends and family to your property.
In this highly competitive industry, it’s important to take advantage of every chance to make a great impression for guests, especially guests that aren’t yet repeat customers. What does it take to inspire brand loyalty and create repeat customers?
1. Retain guest information.
Obtaining and retaining guest information is vital to drive repeat, direct bookings. Having access to e-mail addresses, names, and booking history will help you reach out to your guests in a personalized way and encourage them to book direct. Without this information, it is impossible to get in contact with one-time travelers. What can you do with this information? This is your most profitable marketing channel and recommend retargeting and email marketing to start.ÊContact us for more ideas.
2. Provide exceptional service.
A key to encouraging loyal travelers is to provide top-notch, quality experiences for your guests. Personalize their stay, get to know them by name, go above and beyond to help them feel at home. Guests recognize when hotels go the extra mile and will remember their experience the next time they go to book a hotel. Follow up after a guests stay and ensure that everything about their visit exceeded expectations. Remind the team that every single person should be greeted as they walk by.ÊThank the guest for visiting, at every point, remind the guest why your hotel and your brand is the best.
3. Offer direct booking incentives.
Usually, these incentives come through a loyalty program. Don’t have one? Learn more aboutÊIBC’s patent-pending InnCentives loyalty program here. Everyone loves an incentive and guests feel validated and special when they are rewarded for booking directly with your hotel. It’s important to make your loyalty program or incentive widely advertised so that guests are reminded and reminded again to sign up. Be creative with how you market the program and stay true to your hotel brand.
4. Remind them to book direct.
This might seem simple, but simple solutions are often the most effective. Many travelers are so used to OTA’s that they forget that booking direct is an option. During their stay remind them to book direct, encourage them to book directly with a loyalty program, direct booking promotion and follow up after with another reminder to book direct. It never hurts to nudge a guest in the right direction.
Independent hotels have a unique advantage over branded hotels because they can offer personalized services and amenities that are 100 per centÊtrue and authentic to their brand. Because independents are not managed by a large corporate company, they have the ability to make quick decisions and offer timely amenities and services that appeal to their travelers. This helps encourage and motivate travelers to become loyal customers.
For instance, the localized menu and upscale amenities of Le Germain encouraged me to book directly and return to their property. Similarly, the basket of fresh fruit I received upon check-in at Shadyside helped me feel special and valued as a traveler and so my next stay, I booked direct. Little details make all the difference with direct bookings. Provide those details and more for your guests and you will see direct bookings increase and repeat customers soar.
By Lauren Nash
Lauren Nash is a Marketing SpecialistÊfor IBC Hospitality. IBC offers hospitality software and services to independent hoteliers and alternative lodging and is currently one of the largest lodging networks globally. Hoteliers enjoy a technology platform with robust CRS, distribution and brand-like benefits that enable owners and operators to reclaim their revenue and guest data providing a ÒOne-stop shopÓ with suite of hospitality services and software includes online revenue generation, hotel management software, guest loyalty program and a preferred partner network.
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