In the information age, hotel owners and corporate teams no longer control their own marketing burden. With the ability to consume and create reviews of their stays at a moment’s notice, right at their fingertips, hotel guests now hold most of the advertising power.
The growth of Yelp, TripAdvisor and even Facebook has created a period of tension for hoteliers. How can you ensure that your guests will be loyal to your chain, and advocate for your brand on social media?
The answer is to create a top-notch guest experience, and make it easy for your guests to become advocates of your brand. Loyalty in the hospitality industry is fleeting, but with the right moves, you can make your guest your brand’s best advocate.
Here are some ways to create a great guest experience in a lasting way so that your hotel can capitalize on word-of-mouth advertising:
Focus on Experiential Marketing
It may seem counterproductive to market individually to the guests staying in your hotel, but the fundamental definition of marketing in the hospitality industry has changed. To ensure a guest receives the best experience your hotel can offer, building relationships through interactions between the guest and hotel staff are key.
More and more industries are turning away from marketing that drives traffic in favor of more intimate, customer engagement strategies. With how connected the world is today in terms of product and location reviews and word-of-mouth advocacy, customer engagement and trying to ensure that the guest receives a top-notch experience comes before any other aspect of marketing.
When hotel guests have a good experience, they’re far more likely to advocate for your hotel, online, via hotel reviews on social media, and in person through recommendations to friends and peers.
Don’t Let Guests Forget a Great Experience
After you’ve ensured that your guest experience is second to none, you aren’t nearly finished driving brand advocacy. To keep your brand in the mind of previous hotel guests, use an engagement service that promotes your brand (without being too intrusive) and offers value: deals, discounts and loyalty access.
You can allow guests to check on their reservations and interact to get coupons on their next stay or at a hotel restaurant.
You can also connect guests to other discounts and deals in the area, which may make those who had a good experience with your brand in the past think of you again. While this strategy doesn’t work as well for business travelers who travel out of obligation for their work, hotels in tourist locations have more success with this; it’s difficult to get the same guest to consider the same vacation spot twice in a short time period
Make it Easy to Give Positive Reviews
All industries rely on testimonials these days, but none more than hotels. Customer reviews of hospitality locations can be found on Travelocity, Expedia, TripAdvisor and other social media sites like Facebook and even Instagram.
When it comes to promoting your guests to create reviews of your brand, some may ask won’t that backfire if the reviews are bad? This, of course, is a possibility, but the point of this article is to give you the tools to produce a positive guest experience. Hotels with bad reviews are not long for life in a competitive hospitality industry.
Gauge your customers’ satisfaction with a stay in your hotel, and then give them the tools to create reviews. One way to promote testimonials is to offer rewards to guests who review your location.
Set Up a Quality Hotel Loyalty Program
Of course, loyalty programs are nothing new as far as strategies to turn one-time guests into repeat visitors, but they are still very important to turning a run of the mill guest into a brand advocate.
Find out what your guests value and want more of, through exit surveys and customer reviews. Loyalty programs often create discounts on rooms, allow guests to upgrade their stays, or in the resort hotels, complimentary meals, spa treatments and equipment rentals.
Of course, every hotel has a loyalty program these days, so yours will need some creativity to keep your customers shouting your hotel’s name from the hilltop and coming back time and time again.
There are a lot of moving parts to turning each guest into an advocate for your hotel, making it a slightly different process at each unique location. Just remember to prioritize: your guest experience comes first during a visitor’s stay.
When they leave, don’t just end it there. Use continuing engagement to promote testimonials and build brand loyalty, resulting in that transformation into your hotel’s best advocate.