5 Customer Loyalty Tips that You May Not Know About

By Jim Holthouser Senior Vice President Brand Management, Embassy Suites Hotels | May 22, 2011

At Embassy Suites, we respect the old saying "the customer is king," but we recognized early on that it takes a lot to bring that simple saying to life, each and every day. In our brand's earlier years, we focused on mastering the fundamentals of customer service, because we are true believers that before you can earn customer loyalty, you must have the basics down pat. alt textIf your hotel is not spotless and your front desk employees are not hospitable and welcoming, there aren't any tricks in the book that will keep customers returning to your hotels. Now that we've built a strong foundation, we live by the following five guidelines that help us build loyalty and obtain real results for our hotels' bottom lines.

1. A fanatical focus on consistent execution of the brand pillars at every property

If you ask our guests what keeps them coming back to our hotels stay after stay, we're confident many of them would mention at least one of our brand pillars – two-room suites, free cooked-to-order breakfast, nightly Manager's Receptions serving complimentary beverages and snacks, and an atrium or open public area that provides a sense of space, light and nature. The brand pillars allow us to differentiate the brand in a crowded marketplace and create an incredibly strong value proposition for guests. While these factors certainly impact customer loyalty, we think it's the special attention that we pay to the execution of these brand pillars at every property that makes a difference. The fanatical focus on consistent execution of the brand pillars gives us confidence that guests will have a positive experience time and again, no matter which of our 200+ properties they visit throughout the Americas. We're so focused on maintaining these standards, we'll turn down new deals if a developer doesn't agree to incorporate these elements, because we know guests count on us to deliver this hallmark experience.

2. Acknowledge and recognize your repeat customers

Everyone likes to walk into a party or get-together and have that feeling of being recognized and known. At Embassy Suites Hotels and across the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands, we strive to bring that special experience to life for our customers every time they walk into our lobbies. Through proprietary tools like our Hilton HHonors loyalty program and Customer Really Matters (CRM) technology, we have the ability to acknowledge and recognize our repeat customers in a highly personalized fashion. From seeing if they have stayed at a Hilton Worldwide property within the past 12 months to having visibility into any issues that might have occurred at a past stay, we empower our front desk employees to create a tailored experience for all of our repeat customers. The extra bit of personalized service goes a long way when it comes to customer loyalty.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.