ITB 2023 Special Reporting
The Power of 'Try Before You Buy'.
By Caroline Cooper
Monday, 31st May 2010
The other day I bought some toiletries for my husband,one of them contained a sample of something he would never have even considered buying himself but, surprise, surprise, he liked it and asked for more!

The power of 'Try before you buy' should not be underestimated. It's a great no risk way of allowing someone a taster of what you have to offer.

So whether it is to entice them away from another regular venue, experience your premium rooms or simply to encourage them to buy products which are complimentary to your core offer, it's a win win. They are happy to receive the 'trial' product or service, and you in turn get your high margin product and service in front of more customers.

And we know that once we've experienced to best we don't want to down grade again (think about when you test drive a car, you are always given the model with all the bells and whistles). The spin off is it starts to build the relationship with new customers and build loyalty with existing ones, even if what they experience isn't to their liking

Here are just a few suggestions:
  • Taster evenings for your new menu for your local neighbourhood or regular guests. You don't need to give a full-blown meal, just a sampling of different menu items. Although the food will be free, people will still be buying drinks. If you do this before your normal service times, it might also encourage people to stay on for a full meal.
  • Give regular guests a room upgrade when available so they might be tempted to book this type of room on their next visit.
  • Wine tastings, particularly when you are changing your wine list. Your wine merchant might also provide some sponsorship for this.
  • Invite local clubs, associations and business groups to use your meeting facilities free of charge for their first meeting.
  • For guest booked for 2 or more nights on a room only basis offer a complimentary breakfast on their first morning, so they are encouraged to take breakfast every day.
  • Invite representatives from your local tourist information centre to try out your facilities and experience what you offer first-hand. This means you will be the first venue to come to mind when asked.
  • Invite front-of-house staff from local tourist attractions to sample what you have to offer so they can make recommendations to their visitors.
  • Invite existing customers to bring a friend with them for free (your existing customers are your best form of referral and by inviting them to bring a friend you are increasing the loyalty of the existing customer).
  • Offer first conference booking free if they book a series of events.
  • Invite social secretaries from local clubs to a function menu tasting.
  • Invite PAs and secretaries from local businesses to a networking meeting enabling them to sample your meeting and conference facilities.
  • Offer a tasting session, lunch, or dinner for the couple and parents to potential wedding parties.
  • Set up a networking event for local trades people enabling them to sample your food and meeting facilities, so they might refer you to their customers.
  • Offer a one month trial membership to your spa or fitness suite.
All these suggestions are an ideal risk-free way to give your guests and prospects confidence in what you provide. Even more importantly, this starts to build a relationship and loyalty towards you.

Caroline Cooper is a business coach with over 25 years experience in business and leadership development, and founder of Zeal Coaching, specializing in working with independent hotels to develop their business and their people, and is author of the 'Hotel Success Handbook'.

For more information on Zeal Coaching see www.zealcoaching.com/training
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