5 Resort Strategies for Guest Retention
By David Torres Corporate Director of Sales, Excellence Group Luxury Hotels & Resorts | December 29, 2019
What can we do to keep the same guests returning to our resorts? The answer might surprise you considering some of the answers are ones that you may not think have a lasting effect on guests. In the hospitality industry, it is so tempting for us to focus the spotlight on tangibles like impressive amenities, fancy suites, and gourmet cuisine to entice our guests to come back.
However, we are seeing that it is more often the intangible details that give our guests the sense of belonging and discovery they need, then drive them to book the same resorts time and time again. So what is it that is really making our guests fall in love with us? And what strategies can resort brands implement to increase their guest retention rates?
Excellence Oyster Bay
1. A Great Location
To get guests to come back, the best approach is often to simply make coming back as easy as possible. Though exotic destinations that require a lot of effort to reach are becoming widely popular among travellers, having an easy-to-reach destination gives any resort a huge leg up in guest retention. Popular Caribbean destinations like Cancun and Punta Cana, for example, receive direct flights from many large- and medium-sized cities in the United States and Canada, among other countries throughout Europe and the Americas, so tourists from the region's top markets can quickly and easily reach their favorite resort without the headache of too many layovers or lengthy flights. Accessibility is a determining factor for returning guests, making a 3-4 day vacation possible in comparison to hard-to-reach destinations that require more planning and less spontaneity.
Of course, it also helps to have beautiful surroundings that tourists don't get to experience back home. At Excellence Punta Cana and Excellence El Carmen, two neighboring resorts in Punta Cana, guests are treated to wide expanses of golden sand beach set among a palm tree grove: an envy-inducing setting that any traveler will want to to capture on camera so they can look back on it long after their stay.
In Jamaica, Excellence Oyster Bay sits on its very own private peninsula lined with mangrove and white sand beaches, bordered by the turquoise Caribbean Sea on one side and the bioluminescent lagoon known as Glistening Waters on the other side. With so many stunning things to see, travelers will ache to leave home once again to experience the beauty of their favorite beach resort.
2. Service to Remember
Guests will be much more likely to click that "Book Now" button for a second (or third!) time when they feel like the resort not only wants them to come back, but is actually hoping for their return. For this strategy, you need a staff that creates personal yet professional connections directly with the guests. People love to be remembered, and a staff that knows its guests by name along with their preferences is sure to instill that sense of belonging that every human being craves.
The classic "service with a smile" also comes into play here; every resort employee who comes into contact with guests should not only fulfill the guests' requests, but also show that they see each guest as a special customer and that they are happy to be interacting with them. By making a guest feel like they are wanted, they will see your resort as a place where they are welcome and loved… a home where they will want to return for every holiday.
Every detail should be considered in the service that hotel and resort properties provide. The smiles have to be accompanied with quality work that exceeds guests' expectations. With endless options for travellers to choose from, it is in the small details that guests might feel special.
Excellence Punta Cana
3. Friendships in the Making
A sense of community and lasting bonds is an effective long-term strategy for guest retention. At Excellence Collection properties, a positive and enthusiastic is encouraged through employee incentives and leadership; we want our staff to be genuinely happy to be part of the Excellence family and to reflect that on new and returning guests with whom they have interacted with on previous stays.
Travelers will want to return to your resort even more if they know they will see friendly faces that they recognize. The obvious method here is to improve employee turnover rate so guests can be welcomed by the same staff year after year. However, many resorts overlook one key part of the friendly faces strategy: other guests! While some travelers prefer to take some time to themselves on vacation, even more travelers seek the opportunity to create lasting bonds with other guests. If you are vacationing at the same beach resort as another person, you have already found something in common, and there's no better atmosphere for finding friendships than somewhere as carefree as an all-inclusive resort.
If you do some digging into your guests, you might be surprised to find groups of friends who actually met while on vacation at your resort and then made plans to return all together for the same time the next year. One way to encourage these personal connections among guests and staff alike is to create opportunities where it is easy to make friends, which brings us to the next strategy…
4. Memorable Experiences
Sometimes, a memorable experience might be something as simple as a full afternoon by a beautiful pool, undisturbed, with a colorful cocktail or a favorite beer. Other times, the most memorable experiences are the ones where you're laughing and playing alongside those friendly faces mentioned above.
It's the job of each resort to provide experiences that guests will remember and want to repeat. Daytime activities by the pool and beach are a great place to start, and the key is to have an entertainment staff that will have your guests raving on TripAdvisor. From water aerobics in the main pool to a sailing excursion on the Caribbean Sea, daytime activities at any resort mean more to your guests than just an itinerary; they're an opportunity for them to interact with the staff, meet other guests, and make memories they can tell their friends and family about once they return home.
When it comes to unforgettable evening experiences, Excellence El Carmen in Punta Cana gives an especially great example. Here, guests gather on the outdoor terrace by Stars Theater for nights of dancing to live music. The resort's high-energy entertainment team always gets the crowd going by bringing guests out of their chairs and onto the dance floor.
Between sets, a nightly live show on the big stage draws in an audience that frequently turns into a standing-room-only crowd thanks to the high quality entertainment provided by the talented performers of Punta Cana. Yes, many resorts throughout the world provide nightly entertainment, but the energetic staff and high quality shows at Excellence El Carmen turn the experience into something guests actively seek out.