Hoteliers have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel bans have kept people from booking foreign holidays, and anxiety concerning the virus has kept many from taking domestic holidays. With businesses still relying heavily on remote working, guests have been rare indeed.
2022 stands to turn things around, though. Travel restrictions are being eased around the world, with vaccination efforts paying off in a big way. And now that nerves have settled, people tired of being stuck at home are far more likely to book domestic hotel stays.
Due to this, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how you’re going to take advantage of the bump in business. As new customers come in, it’s imperative that you truly impress them — and in this article we’re going to list four things you can do to forge more powerful connections with your hotel guests. Let’s get to them.
Implement unique loyalty systems
One area in which coffee shops lead the way is using loyalty rewards to keep customers coming back. If you can come up with a unique rewards system that incentivizes customer loyalty in a way that reflects your hotel branding, it can make a huge difference. How you should approach this will depend on what makes your hotel notable. Here are some good examples.
Do you offer exceptional food? Superlative views? Fantastic partnerships with local businesses? Whatever gives you an edge over the competition should be at the core of your loyalty scheme. A customer could stay three times and get a three-course feast delivered to their room, perhaps, or get a cut-cost upgrade to a room with a better view.
Cater to different nationalities
Attracting international customers is vital for hoteliers, particularly those in multicultural areas or big cities with a lot of tourism, but they don’t all get it right. It’s tempting to stick with the most widely-used language of the region, for instance, which is typically English. Enough people speak at least conversational English that it’s enough to get by.
But if you don’t speak someone’s language, you’ll miss vital parts of their customer experience. Website localization — the process of updating your website for different languages through actions including formatting, image replacement and SEO — should be a key priority, ensuring that the booking process is optimally easy. And if you can hire multilingual staff members, particularly at the front desk, it can do much to enhance conversation. Investing in staff is always a good idea.
Hugely exceed expectations (sometimes)
The notion of going above and beyond is a fine one, but the oft-repeated assertion that it should be standard practice just isn’t viable. You can’t wildly exceed expectations for every customer interaction — and even if you had the resources for that, it still wouldn’t be possible. Why? Because customer expectations would rise until your exceptional acts of service would feel normal, leaving you to look bad by comparison whenever you provided merely good service.
What you need to do, then, is pick your moments to exceed expectations. It’s good to impress new customers, for instance, or show your appreciation for your most loyal customers. And when you get an odd request that’s easy enough to fulfil, you should jump on that chance to show that you can get creative when given the chance.
Engage positively with criticism
Lastly, hoteliers need thick skin to deal with the criticism they inevitably receive from demanding customers. No matter how hard you try or how well you perform, there will always be those who aren’t satisfied and expect you to work miracles. When you encounter such customers and they leave scathing reviews, you mustn’t lose your temper or ignore them.
Instead, you should engage with them carefully, staying calm and positive. What are they really mad about? Can you resolve their problems? If you can, do so. You’ll win them over and they’ll support you loyally. And if you can’t, try to smooth things over, and remember that your communication is largely for the benefit of those watching. As long as you seem reasonable and generous to onlookers, you’ll come out ahead.