The timeless art of guest loyalty: Making your guest feel special

Timo Lorenzen

Strategic leader, motivated to organize initiatives for change. Quick to see opportunities for improvement and conceptualize new solutions. As a natural leader, I enjoy marshaling resources & developing long-range plans

As a general manager of a boutique hotel with a long-standing career in the hospitality industry, I’ve witnessed numerous changes over the many years (Yes, I’m getting old). Yet, besides all the changes, one principle has remained constant: guest loyalty is cultivated by making people feel special. It is an art that, when mastered, not only enriches the guest experience but also ensures their return, ultimately contributing to the hotel’s success. In this article, I will share some insights on how to create this special feel and maintain it affordably, especially for small business owners. Let’s get started…

Personalised Communication

The foundation of making guests feel special lies in personalised communication. Addressing guests by their names without overdoing it, remembering their preferences, and acknowledging special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries can leave a lasting impression. Invest in a reliable customer relationship management (CRM) system to keep track of guest details and preferences. With the right data, your team can create personalised experiences that don’t require significant financial investments. No money for a CRM? You can also find free CRM extensions that integrate directly into your email client. These extensions can help you manage guest interactions and add notes or tags to contacts, making it easier to personalise communication. Most Hotel Property Management Systems however would allow you to make sufficient notes. Have no idea? Just ask your guest.

Thoughtful Welcome Gestures

A warm and thoughtful welcome sets the tone for the entire stay. Consider offering a personalised welcome note, a small bouquet of flowers, or locally sourced treats in the guest’s room upon arrival (Just check out what you get at Veriu Queen Victoria Market… LOVED it). These gestures create an immediate connection and show that your hotel values their visit. These welcome gestures don’t have to be extravagant. It’s the thought behind them that matters most. A welcome beverage for example is great, however if your PMS tells you that Mr Smith loves a hot chocolate for breakfast rather than a coffee you know what to do to strike.

Exceptional Customer Service

Train your team to provide exceptional customer service that goes above and beyond expectations. A friendly smile and genuine care can and will make your guest feel valued without any added expenses. Encourage your team to actively listen to guest feedback and address any concerns promptly. Treating guests with respect and kindness can leave a lasting impression that money can’t buy. In summary – encourage your team to be good humans, especially when it’s busy!

Create Memorable Experiences

While luxury amenities are appealing (who doesn’t love Bulgari bathroom amenities?), creating memorable experiences doesn’t have to break the bank. Organise complimentary activities like guided walking tours, cooking classes with the chef, or local cultural events. Partner with nearby attractions or businesses to offer exclusive discounts to your guests, thereby adding value to their stay without significant costs for your hotel. At Veriu Green Square for example we had so called “Lobby Activation” events where we had local musicians play for our guests during happy hour or we had a fortune teller explore your future with our guests.

Personal Touch in Dining

If your hotel offers dining services, consider incorporating a personal touch. Encourage your chef to prepare customised dishes based on guest preferences or dietary requirements. Adding a handwritten note from the chef alongside the meal can elevate the dining experience without increasing expenses significantly. A similar concept applies when guests order in from Menulog or similar. How can you make this more special?

Loyalty Programs with a Twist

Implement a loyalty program that rewards guests not only for their stays but also for engaging with your hotel on social media, referring friends, or providing feedback. Offer exclusive perks like room upgrades, late check-outs, or discounted spa treatments to loyal guests. These rewards can be cost-effective yet immensely appealing. Use your PMS to ensure you thank your guest not only online, but with a handwritten note for their review on their next arrival.

Surprise Upgrades and Special Offers

Occasionally surprise guests with complimentary room upgrades or special offers during slower seasons. Not only does this delight the guest, but it also boosts occupancy during off-peak times. These gestures of goodwill can foster long-term loyalty without compromising your bottom line.

In conclusion, while guest loyalty remains a timeless aspect of the hospitality industry, it doesn’t have to be a costly affair. Making guests feel special is an art that involves genuine care, personalized touches, and thoughtful gestures. As a small business owner, you can create a lasting impact on your guests’ experience with cost-effective strategies that focus on building meaningful connections. Remember, it’s the little things that count and leave a a warm mark on your guests’ hearts and minds.

So, embrace the art of making people feel special, and watch as guest loyalty becomes the cornerstone of your boutique hotel’s success.

I will talk more about this at the No Vacancy 2023 in Sydney, so stay tuned for more updates regarding this.


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