Studies have shown that today’s hotel guests book based more on price and location as seen on OTA websites than based on brand loyalty. OTA commoditization has boiled the decision making down to one photo and a number, leaving hoteliers at the mercy of a booking experience that is often out of their hands. So how does a hotel brand gain loyalty when guests aren’t looking to be loyal?
- Convince them to book direct. Obviously this isn’t always possible but, as we discussed here, is the best bet for both guest and host.
- Fight commoditization – At every step, but for those who booked via OTA, it starts at check in. Decrease or eliminate the check in line, and ensure that all front desk staff have proper training and accountability in customer service. Things like friendly demeanor, eye contact, and excellent listening skills go a long way.
- During the stay – Own the entire guest journey. You can do this by providing trusted local recommendations, responding to tweets from current guests who mention your hotel, or looking for other ways to go the extra mile and surpass expectations.
- At check out – Again, decrease or eliminate lines to check out. Try to put all charges on the first price they were quoted – many surveys have proven that guests prefer to pay a higher rate upfront than to be hit with extra required fees at checkout. This is the last moment your guest will be on property, so is most likely to stick with them.
- After the stay -Don’t blend in with the crowd with tons of emails – most people of this generation have an email address specifically to give to companies and they get thousands of emails and never check them. Consider paring this down only to communications that offer value to guests, or using your app to send exclusive messages and deals. Alternately, be more personal! Thank them on Twitter (again, only if they’ve tweeted you first!), mail a hand-written card. Follow up with them if they’ve filled out a comment card or survey.
In essence, let guests, even those who didn’t originally book out of loyalty, know that you appreciate their business and give them plenty of reasons to come back again.