In today’s economy, where costs are undergoing a constant analysis and profit margins are becoming smaller by the day, listening to customers and encouraging feedback should be deemed an important part of the business agenda. It is true that a large proportion of businesses are now connecting with their customers to get feedback, however this is very often where the practice ends. Many businesses go through the lengthy process of gathering customer feedback only to leave the data unused.
Research has shown:
"A 2% boost in customer retention has the same effect on profits as cutting costs by a massive 10%"
If Customer insight is to be used successfully, it should lead to positive actions from the business. Businesses should be focusing on the opinions made by customers and implementing actions to improve their business processes and therefore the customer experience. Yes, it is a given fact that the quality of the customer experience is one of the biggest contributes of business success or failure – and in the hospitality trade, it holds even more importance. But what factors really affect and influence the overall customer experience?
The customer experience should be deemedto start way before the clientstays at the hotel or guesthouse… andthat itfinisheslong after they have departed! Customer anticipationsare usually set when visiting and browsing through the hotel’s website or other online information. A website can be viewed by anyone in the world at any given time and it is true that first impressions do count immensely. Therefore hoteliers need to be aware of the importance of their online presence and make sure it matches up with the impression that they want to give to their customers. A potential guest can very quickly be put off by insufficient information, poor images and site that is extremely hard to use.
It should also be noted that the most successful establishments identify that the customer experience doesn’t conclude with their departure. Post-stay follow-up is one of the most successful methods to convert a positive experience into repeat visits and recommendations. This post follow up could be in the form of a personal written or spoken telephone thank you or maybe an update on the result of feedback given. Make sure that the permission of the guest has been granted and then also follow up with email news of offers and new services.
The customer experience ultimately can be described as every encounter that a customer has with a hotel or guesthouse, over the lifetime of their relationship with that hotel. Successful hoteliers are the ones who provide a consistently great experience whenever a guest comes into contact with the hotel – whether that is on the telephone, through the website or when they actually stop by to dine, drink, sleep or all three. Every imaginable exchange with a guest is an opportunity to check they are making the most of their stay as well as a chance to improve it. Maybe start by saying “hello” in reception and checking they are enjoying their stay. Include conversing about the aspects of their stay that are ‘not’ to do with your accommodation - maybe asking if they have visited local attractions or recommend a restaurant or cuisine?
It should be seen that every single interaction between the various members of staff and the guest is an opportunity to build a positive relationship therefore encourage customer loyalty including potential recommendations of your hotel to friends and family.
Email Marketing for Hotels
With all the recent publicity over social media, email marketing has taken a backseat role in many ways. However email remains a very powerful marketing tool when used correctly and most definitely should not be overlooked. Email generally has a greater psychological value than other types of social media communication. If you are regularly delivering value in your mails, people will listen to what you have to say.
Ways your hotel could use email
- As a relationship building tool. You can use email to give your business personality and a sense ofquality.
- Use it as a feedback and research tool.Many hotels send an automatic survey link to gather guest feedback. There are also other ways you can use email to get feedback. Not only on the guests stay, but also for new ideas and other market research.
- As a direct promotional tool. Write newsletters to guests; detailing special offers; notifications of new facilities; or to provide insider information. Create an email that offers travel tips or other useful information, and people will welcome your updates that come with it.
- Use it to provide superior guest service.There is so much potential for hotels to use email to improve their guests’ experience and hence increase repeat bookers. A series of e-mails could be generated whenever someone makes a booking: leading up to the stay, and then following up after they depart. Putting everything on autopilot insures every guest has an outstanding experience interacting with your hotel and reduces the potential for errors.
- Offer Competitions. You can use email to hold a contest, and to offer prizes to winners. This is one method of increasing interactivity, and to increase interest in your newsletter. Encourage contest participants to get others to sign up as well-and watch the interest grow.
To find out more about how to do this in “Q-Marketing” our new email marketing tool visit http://www.abchotel.co.uk/screen-shots.html
Plan your list building strategy
You don’t want to be thought of as a spammer. That’s why it’s important not to send emails that are not targeted properly. To get the best results from each email you should firstget permission from your recipients before you send out anything. Try the following to achieve this:
- Include a signup form on your website. Just keep it short: email & first name is best.
- Have a system in place where your front desk staff ask for addresses during check-in or check out
- Consider leaving a letter of invitation in their room
- Always provide a strong benefit for the person signing up for your list. Receiving updates (marketing messages) alone isn’t usually a very strong offer. Exclusive discounts and preferred service are more compelling.
Tips for writing effective emails for your hotel
- Make sure you get through the spam filters. Mail that isn’t delivered isn’t read.
- Write effective subject lines. Tell what’s inside, but don’t overdo it. Sometimes boring is best. Don’t use too much hype.
- Include your contact information and a telephone number.
- Provide a Link to Your Web Site.
- Use good grammar.
Choose a publishing frequency
Publishing too often can result in people unsubscribing. If you don’t publish enough, people may forget about you. Find a regularity that works well with your audience.
Test… and test again
As with most online marketing, success is achieved through continual testing…and making changes based on the results.
Ideas for testing
- Days of the week (Monday…or Saturday?)
- Time of day (morning, evening etc.)
- Subjects & Topics
By using email as part of an overall marketing plan, you can help people form a positive impression of your business, develop customer relations, and help get the word out about your organisation. It’s a valuable marketing tool that can bring in more visitors and help increase both new and repeat sales.