Like any business, the first marketing objective of any hotel is to generate and retain guests.
To achieve this goal hoteliers have to create value for their guests; US hospitality industry guru Don Landry defines this value as “experience minus expectation.” Landry’s theory is that providing the experience is only marginally better than the guest’s expectation, the hotelier has created value.
As a starting point, hoteliers need to understand as much as they can about their customers, and what they are doing that is attracting those guests. One way of doing so is to hire an external market research firm. Alternatively every hotel has its own in-house research team, ideally placed to pose two ‘magic marketing’ questions – at no additional cost.
Hoteliers should train their reception and check-in staff to ask two questions of every guest that arrives at the hotel:
- “What brings you to the area?” Is this a leisure or business trip? Business travellers have very different expectations and needs to their leisure counterparts. Knowing your hotel’s mix of guest will enable you to tailor your product to the market that brings you to the greatest returns.
- “How did you pick this hotel?” Was it personal recommendation, a guest review of Trip Adviser or through an OTA? What works for one guest is likely to work for another; if you know the source of the booking you can focus more marketing resource.
Most of us agree that understanding your guests’ personal tastes can also help ensure repeat business, but what about first time guests? How do you anticipate their needs? Actually, you can, simply by creating a range of amenities that meet the needs of other customers.
For example, every business traveller wants Wifi access when staying away from home – but does your front desk team ask new arrivals whether they would like the Wifi access code, or wair to be asked? The first approach delivers better customer value than the latter.