Innovation in Hospitality: 5 Ways to Engage and Retain Customers in a Competitive Market25 April, 2017 / Articles
The digital age has dramatically reshaped customers’ expectations of companies and brands. Whether through demands for ‘transparency’ or greater options for online services, customers have made it clear that to remain relevant, companies must not merely adapt, but innovate. The hospitality industry is no exception.
And whether the company is a small seaside bed and breakfast or an international hotel chain, the call to action is the same. The mobile, cloud and social media tools available must be leveraged for greater customization of services. But, what does this mean, how does it look on the ground, and what do businesses in the hospitality industry need to know to survive and thrive?
Build a brand that customers like and trust
With formidable “middlemen,” ranging from Airbnb to Travelocity, that promise competitive discounts, ease, and multiple options, companies in the hospitality industry must prioritize the creation of a coherent and compelling brand. In order to avoid being overshadowed by online broker agencies, they must forge real relationships with their customers that allow them to stand out and be seen as trustworthy and distinct. Whether it’s through unforgettable music videos, like Virgin Airlines, or through aligning with a particular demographic’s values of health and sustainability, like many “eco-resorts,” a brand needs to differentiate itself and discover its unique market. In that vein, its presence on social media, collaboration with influencers, and generation of meaningful content will all contribute to a critical blend of visibility and recognition, of being known and being known for being the best.
Leverage your “brand champions.”
User-generated content, whether it be the personality-driven musings of a lifestyle blog or the sincere review of a satisfied guest, should be leveraged to garner engagement and develop brand awareness. The truth is that guests, especially guests who are millennials, trust the experience of other guests. The connectivity the digital age enables is like ‘word of mouth’ on steroids. And just as you work to integrate your different digital platforms, you must work to integrate what you say about yourself with what others say about you. If done well, this endeavor can secure you a reputation that will be a strong asset in increasing ROI. At Marketing Zen, we sometimes refer to this as the “transformation” stage, where a positive guest review or appreciative note is framed and promoted to generate interest and attract future customers.
Treat feedback like gold.
User-generated content won’t always be positive. Sometimes, customers will have difficult criticisms or complaints. The important thing is to see this negative feedback as an opportunity to understand your guests’ desires and concerns more thoroughly and to take action.