During a recent holiday break the family and I went to a great hotel - With 4 young kids the attraction was that the facilities were all-inclusive so constant requests for ice-creams etc were not a problem! So what was so great about it?
Well I'm always on the look out for examples of great and poor business models and ideas, so here's the key thing that stood out … the huge number of people who had been there before. One couple I spoke to had been there for the last seven years in a row with their children.
For the hotel and any other business getting repeat customers like this is akin to striking gold - no marketing or recruitment costs - just pure profit. And no doubt their clients spread the word amongst their friends so again no marketing cost for the hotel. What was this hotel doing right that you can apply to your business to encourage repeat business?
1. It's a very child-friendly hotel - leave your kids at the Kids Club which had activities all day. They have spotted that family-oriented hotels will always have an edge, so they built the business and customer experience around that idea. They have spotted a niche and do everything they can to satisfy that market. Result? My kids loved it so much it's clear that this is the only place they want to go. The hotel has done its job!
2. They make it feel like home - as we drove through the hotel gates the driver who picked us up from the airport said ‘Welcome home!' Just think, even the lowly driver knew that the hotel's philosophy is to make sure everyone feels they belong to a big family. How good are your employees at passing on your core message or values?
3. Staff recognized and warmly greeted repeaters - in many cases staff clearly knew people's names and as a minimum recognized faces. They treated these people as long lost friends. How do your employees treat regular clients? Warmly or with indifference?
4. They create a feeling of community - repeat clients get tee-shirts with the hotel name and year printed on it and people wore them with pride. Not my personal taste but it clearly made most people feel very happy. The children were not forgotten either. Every activity they took part in at the Kids Club was rewarded with a points voucher which could be redeemed at the hotel shop. Do you give gifts to repeat customers by way of a thank you?
5. They reward repeaters with a 10% discount - a great way to encourage people to come back and another way of saying ‘thanks for your business'. Do you offer repeat business discounts?
6. And finally, all backed up with great food and great service.
These are all simple things which you can introduce very quickly to any business. Getting repeat business is a powerful way to boost sales and profits so starting thinking about how you can encourage customers to become life-long customers.
Rob Warlow (c) 2007
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