Illustration of a woman returning to a hotel with her suitcase

Loyal guests are essential for every hotel: they stay at your property more often, try new products and services, and are also much more likely to recommend their experiences to their friends and family. 

Improving the number of repeat guests is a common goal for hoteliers and although attracting new clients is crucial for growth and development, increasing repeat guests ensures you build a solid customer base. 

With many options to choose from, travelers only return to a hotel if they have their expectations met or even exceeded. Of course, this is easier said than done. But when you make them feel special, they are more likely to return. Here are five effective tips to build guest loyalty at your hotel, in a clear and simple manner:

Make a great first impression

First impressions last a long time. Creating a great first impression ensures you start off on the right foot with your guests. Their experience begins with the booking process – be it online or offline, keep this process simple and efficient. Make sure that tourists easily find your hotel online by making it available on a range of channels (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, your own website, and OTAs). The booking process has to run as smoothly as possible.

Do not overburden guests with unnecessary forms to fill in or ask them for irrelevant information. The booking process on all of these sites needs to be as hassle-free as possible because every second is important when it comes to a user’s attention span online.

Preparing your staff to interact with the guests is crucial as well. They are usually the first contact at your hotel and can influence the way people feel about your property. This may be via answers that your staff gives online (e.g., on Facebook), when they answer the phone for requests, or when they receive guests at the hotel itself. Having a well-trained and friendly staff is key to keep your visitors happy and returning for a long time.

All clients feel pleased when staff members value them. So, why not add a personal touch to the interaction, such as handing out edible treats or giving extra tips for the guest’s stay? Ask them about their experience and preferences; this shows you care about them.

Know your guests

People book a stay at hotels they can relate to. Knowing your audience and their needs helps you provide timely offers and enhance their stay with you.

Collecting data about who stays at your property is also important for making your marketing campaigns more effective. For example, if your property appeals to families, try to highlight its family-friendliness as well as family-related activities. If your hotel receives different groups throughout the year, focus on different messages for each one of them. It is better to create different messages for smaller groups than to create a general one that has no effect. Always think of what is relevant for each client before creating a marketing campaign.

Inside the hotel, knowing your guests helps you place them in the right room or advise them on which treatments or facilities to take advantage of at your hotel. For instance, if an elderly couple is booked at your property, you could place them further away from young groups so that they are not bothered by any noise. By doing this, you ensure all your guests get a good night’s sleep.

Engage your audience

Communicating regularly and engaging with your audience is a key strategy to create brand awareness (your brand being your hotel). Guests remember hotels that care about their experiences before, during, and after their stay.

As an example, you could send a personalized email to guests some days before their arrival. They will be excited and build up anticipation for their trip. Send reminders, suggestions of things to do nearby, or ask if they have any request.

After their stay, send a thank-you email to say how much you appreciated having them. Take this opportunity to ask for their feedback as well. Guests will appreciate such messages very much and remember you for it.

You can also engage them by posting on social media. Photos of your hotel’s unique selling points (USPs) and tourist attractions are always a good choice. They might even be appealing to travelers who may already know the region. 

Many people like to share their memories on social media. On Thursdays, users post throwback photos of trips on Instagram (using the hashtags #throwbackthursday or #tbt). Encourage your audience to share a picture of a moment at your hotel. You can also use social media to promote contests for free stays. This way you engage your audience and also show the value of your property.

Be flexible

After all the uncertainty concerning travels due to the COVID pandemic, flexibility and understanding has become a must. Adapting your cancelation policies to the current situation is essential. Many guests are still reluctant about booking a room and are afraid to pay fees if they cancel their booking. So, why not consider a free-of-charge cancelation rate a couple of days before arrival?

Cancelations from guests is never a great scenario. But having a clear, flexible cancelation policy will make your hotel appeal to a wider audience. This also creates trust in your business.

Flexible check-ins are another plus for guests. Some of them may not want to be in the lounge with other people (what with the current situation), while others may not be able to arrive at the hotel during your regular check-in times. So, flexibility will pay off in the end.

Offer rewards

A good way to keep guests coming back is to offer “treats” or rewards to them. These contribute to transforming a good experience into a spectacular one.  Remember that it is about exceeding expectations. When guests receive treats, they feel valued and appreciated. Making guests happy is what everyone in the hospitality industry wants. So, why not reward your guests? This will help with building a good relationship. 

A key factor is to make sure to reward clients at the right time. Do not offer vouchers or discounts all the time; otherwise, they will just see it as trivial, rather than something special. Use rewards to show your audience the value of being loyal and returning to your hotel. Offer one day extra for free on their fourth stay, or a free meal on their third stay, for example. This is an incentive for them to choose your property over similar ones in the area.

All these tips have the same goal: to enhance the guest experience and to keep them coming back. A seamless and consistent service both online and offline is the first step to build loyalty. Kicking it off right is essential to get new clients and to retain your regular client base. But then you have to create lasting relationships with them. The best way to do this is through an honest approach. So, when your guests have any problems, be willing to help them with them. 

In this highly competitive industry, only hotels with a customer-centered approach will thrive. Do not hesitate to go the extra mile for your guests. What matters is to show you care about each one of them.