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 February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.