Even with the best hotel distribution strategy, it can be tough to get inside customers’ heads. Offering a great combination of value, service, and amenities at your hotel is still the foundation of running a successful hotel, but a different mindset is evolving among travelers.
More and more, businesses of all kinds are using customer loyalty programs to attract new customers and hopefully maintain a current roster of repeat bookers. As the popularity of these programs grow, the customer is adding one criterion to their search for a hotel reservation: “What’s in it for me?”
It’s not hard to set up a loyalty or rewards program as part of your hotel distribution strategy, but then the question becomes: how do you know if your customer is only in it for the reward, then will move to the next shiny new offer? How do you know if the customer will become the long-term gem you covet?
Answer: You don’t. Not until that customer follows through with another reservation, and another.
There are a few things you can do maximize the chance that your hotel rewards program will draw customers and keep them coming back.
Build in a variety of ways to interact with your customers, either online or in person. Make it even more attractive by not requiring a purchase to participate.
Load Up Offers With Value
When you’re coming up with rewards to add to your program, make sure they’re at high value to the customer but low cost to the hotel. For example, offering a free service instead of a free night’s stay.
Know The Customer
Reward the customer with things they really want. This means knowing your customer base inside and out. For example, if your customer base consists mainly of business travelers, what are they going to want at the end of a busy, stressful day? Dinner for a family of four or a free cocktail? Free Wi-Fi access, or a free massage?
Don’t Make It Too Hard
Building tiers of increasing reward values is a good idea. However, don’t make it so hard to reach the next level that the majority of your customers bail after the first reward.
Join Forces With Other Businesses
You don’t have to go it alone! Partner up with nearby businesses and attractions to enhance the variety of “prizes” you can offer. The possibilities are endless: restaurant meals, movie tickets, museum or zoo passes, night clubs, off-site gyms or spa services, beach toy rentals, merchandise discounts, and more.
Offering smaller, intermediate rewards between major tiers is a good way to keep customers engaged and working enthusiastically toward that next step up.
It’s best not to place strict limits as to how and when customers can redeem their rewards, once they’ve achieved that elite status. Give them the flexibility they feel they’ve earned for sticking to the rules of your game.
Add Value Beyond The Dollar Sign
Granted, some customers will always be about price, price, and only price. However, offering price reductions as the main rewards could focus your customers’ attention on the bottom line—which could hurt yours. Sure, most customers think about price, but remember your target customer: is price the only reason they book with your hotel? Probably not.
If you offer Internet access at your hotel, don’t be afraid to use technology to be just a little bit nosy about what your guests are looking for online. Knowing which local attractions they’re searching out most will help you tailor your rewards program to the things they want most.
Let Smart eHotels™ help you reap the rewards of an effective hotel distribution strategy. Contact us today!