It’s a hard-and-fast rule of doing business: you will spend up to 10 times more landing a new customer than retaining an existing client.
At the same time, repeat customers can spend as much as 67 percent more than someone staying with you for the first time.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to share these tips for tapping into the long-term value of a guest.
- Be on a first-name basis
This might seem small, or obvious, but creating a by-name relationship with guests can help you and your staff build rapport with them.
Put yourself in their shoes: Would you rather be “Sir” or “Ms.” or “Madam” in a hotel, or be called by your first name? Better still, remembering their names shows them that you and your team pay attention to detail.
Top things off by having you or your front desk manager give guests their business cards upon check-out, with a note inviting the guest to contact you or your manager or Innkeeper directly if they would like to return.
- Get to know them
By spending time getting to know your guests, you can offer suggestions that make their stay more enjoyable and memorable.
When they come into the lobby in the morning or at breakfast service at your B&B or Inn, ask about their plans for the day. Try to get an idea of the types of activities they enjoy. That way, you can make suggestions for things they might like to do, like concerts, museums and outdoor activities while they’re in town. This can also be done, the day your guests check in or, later during an afternoon snack or cocktail hour at your B&B or Country Inn.
- Delight your guests
Your guests expect quality service and a comfortable room. But hoteliers/Innkeepers who can see the long-term value of a guest will take a few extra steps, and try to surprise and delight their customers.
This can mean offering a room upgrade on someone’s birthday, luxury treatment at your spa, or a complimentary bottle of wine with dinner.
Surprises don’t even have to be anything too extravagant: free coffee with their wake-up call at a hotel (B&B’s always serve breakfast), or a basket of fruit in their room. Small gestures can make a lasting impression when they’re unexpected.
- Find a way to stay in touch
If your guest booked a stay through an online travel agent, or booking agency for B&B’s, chances are you’ll be limited from directly marketing to guests beyond their initial booking. But you can market to guests if you get their contact details – email is crucial – during their stay.
Once you have their email, you can keep in touch with them throughout the year and keep your brand at the top of their minds. Without their email, you’re giving up a golden opportunity to build rapport and to entice them with exclusive offers.
- Get their feedback
Asking your guests for their feedback demonstrates that you care about how their stay is going. It also helps you figure out what’s working and isn’t working in terms of customer service.
When you get customer input on things like the comfort of your rooms or the service of your staff, you’ll be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
This doesn’t have to be an in-person interaction. It can be done by personal emails between you and your guest. Or you can engage with your guests on social media to find out their preferences, and encourage them to write reviews on websites like Trip Advisor; just be sure to acknowledge their review, good or bad. Of course, no one wants a bad review, but acknowledging, apologizing and correcting the error can be very helpful.
- Remember the “service recovery paradox”
Complaints and problems with service are to be expected, but the way you handle them is what customers remember.
It’s what’s known as the “service recovery paradox”: Guests will feel better about an establishment that helped them solve a problem then if they had never had a problem in the first place.
Establishments that know the long-term value of a guest recognize that every complaint should carry the same weight. All that matters is that the guest has an issue, which means they think it’s important. A quick response and an offer to make things better can alter the guest’s perception of you for the better.
For more than 60 years, InnStyle has helped hotels, bed and breakfasts and vacation rental property owners make sure their guests had memorable, comfortable stays.