In the hospitality industry, it’s the latest, greatest hotel features, lowest prices, and most eccentric travel packages that seemingly draw the largest followings. That is great for large hotels, with the budget and marketing dollars to execute high level plans and build a “loyal” customer following. But what about all of the other guys? Not every hotel or lodge has the financial wiggle room to head-up major loyalty program efforts. Not to worry, there is a strategy to building a loyal customer following – and it can work for anyone. A recent article written by Ted Wham, VP of Travel Industry Solutions at Responsy’s (a Marketing Solutions company), goes into extensive detail around a 10 step plan, designed to build long term customer relationships and loyalty. Let’s take a look at the basics of the plan:
1. Analyze Weakness – To best serve your customers, it is critical to assess your own weaknesses as a company. Once weaknesses are brought to the forefront, improvements can be made, making your product better, and your customer happier.
2. Listen to Your Customers – It is important to determine both what the traveler wants, and how they want “it” delivered to them. Listen to your customers, and take into account the things that spending trends, market shifts, etc. might have on your demographic.
3. Understand Your Data – In order to fully understand your customers, you must first have a firm handle on your data. Capturing and applying key data in the marketplace can be one of the most beneficial and effective tactics in your arsenal.
4. Give it to the Traveler Right Now – Integrating real time details into your marketing efforts is a key element in gaining a loyal customer following. Make sure deals, packages, or special offers are all current and detailed correctly.
5. Keep the Customer Informed – As we all know, travel plans can change at the drop of a hat. It is important to keep your customers informed on anything that may alter their travel itinerary.
6. Embrace the Times – Travelers are researching, planning and booking their trips across multiple web devices everyday. Keep with the times – Understand how to use social media to your advantage. Twitter and Facebook have incredible reach capabilities.
7. Tie-In More Benefits – Travelers love free things – promotions, extended stays, etc. However, travelers also appreciate the little things being included in the premium price they are paying for lodging – things like airport shuttle service, rental cars, complimentary beverages, etc. The more the merrier.
8. Keep Customer Service Spot-On – As holds true in any business, customer service is crucial to consumer satisfaction. Make sure that your customer service efforts are solid – from booking time all the way through the check out.
9. Stand Out – Too many loyalty programs look alike. Be creative – develop ideas that are going to blow your customer away and keep them coming back for more.
10. Encourage Feedback – When the trip is over, don’t stop there! Follow up with your customer – dig deep into their experience. This goes back to analyzing weaknesses. Understanding the customer experience can lead to improvements for your hotel.
Full article found on MarketingProfs. To read the article in its entirety, click here.