Today's Hotelier - April 2016 - (Page 62)
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Easy ways to get guests talking
Unique customer experience touches
add up to long-term loyalty.
by TEMA FRANK
E ALL WANT
loyal customers. They
save us money
costs and agency
fees because they are likely to come
back to us directly to rebook. They are
more likely to tell others about us and
send us referral business. They make
our staff feel good, because there can
be a relationship that develops and
regular customers are more likely to
leave larger tips. So how do you get that
kind of loyalty? The key is delivering
consistently excellent, and sometimes
surprising, customer experiences. Let's
break that down.
For a few years there was an experience
that happened to me over and over. I'd
be walking down the street on a warm
summer day when a car would pull up
beside me. A desperate parent would
pop his or her head out the window and
ask, "Where's the nearest McDonalds?
My kids are hungry." I'd explain that
the nearest one was far away, but that
there was a much better local hamburger
"Nope," they'd insist. "It's got to be
McDonalds. They won't eat anywhere
McDonald's food wasn't great, even
then, but part of what drew families to it
62 | APRIL 2016 | TODAYSHOTELIER.COM
so powerfully was the consistency. They
knew exactly what they'd be getting.
The kids knew to expect a Happy Meal
with a cheap plastic toy. The parents
knew they could count on getting food
their kids would eat without complaint.
And, in those days, everyone knew it
would be fast, clean and have friendly
staff. Part of the reason McDonald's
has suffered in recent years is that the
consistency is gone. You can't count
on that cheerful smile and cleanliness
The same holds true for hotel experiences. People book at chain hotels partially because they know what to expect.
Say the words "Four Seasons," and a certain level of comfort and luxury comes
to mind. Say "Super 8" and a different
value proposition comes to mind. Either
way, you know what to expect. Humans
are creatures of habit, and consistency
gives us comfort.
Excellent customer experiences are
defined by the customer, not by you.
What customers consider excellent at a
fancy hotel is not the same as how they
would define excellence in something
less expensive. But either way, you need
to know what it is that your customers
want. There are certain core elements
that virtually all customers look for:
cleanliness, comfortable beds, working
fixtures and bathrooms, and polite staff.
But beyond that, it is best to get to know
your customers, your target market and
what is most important to them.
This sounds like a contradiction of my
first point about consistency, and in a
way it is. The key is that the surprise
has to be layered on top of the consistent
experience they have come to know and
love, and it has to be a positive surprise.
Surprises can be little things, but
have an outsized impact. Not only do
surprises delight guests, but surprises
are what people share with others. They
help grow word of mouth and increase
public ratings and reviews.
Many surprising ideas get copied
once others hear of them. I remember
my delight the first time I stayed in a
resort where the towels were folded
into animal shapes. Now it has become
commonplace at resorts, so it becomes
part of the baseline expectation. Still
nice, but it no longer provides the same
level of delight. I don't rush to share the
photos with my friends on Facebook or
Pinterest any more.
If your best ideas get copied, how
do you keep surprising customers?
Brainstorming with your staff (at all levels, especially frontline staff) will help.
Chatting with customers about other
great hotel experiences they've had can
also give you ideas - so can borrowing
ideas you've seen in other industries.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Today's Hotelier - April 2016
Message From AAHOA
Letter From The Chairmen
2016 AAHOA CONVENTION
Perspectives From The Chief suites
Food & Beverage
Compliance & Legal
5 Unexpected Things Hoteliers Can Learn From Kevin O’Leary
Sales & Marketing
4 Steps To Creating A Powerful Guest Experience
3 Ways To Breathe Life And Revenue Into Your Space
Finance & Revenue
Today's Hotelier - April 2016