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Keeping The Seat Warm: 10 Tips For Incentivising Customer Loyalty In The Hospitality Sector

For a business to survive in the hospitality sector, customer loyalty is essential. Repeat customers drive revenue, create referrals and ensure long-term stability, but retaining their interest is increasingly difficulty as we migrate into the digital space. If you want to keep guests coming back, you'll need to adjust your strategy to accommodate their needs and distinguish your brand in the memory - here are a few tips to help.

1) Customer Service: One of the most effective ways to improve customer loyalty is to simply shift focus away from cost efficiency and aim to provide a quality service. You can start by attending to any advanced requests, responding to concerns or issues that arise on the spot, and going above and beyond to ensure positive experiences. A customer-first approach can quickly transform the prospects of a struggling business or compensate for deficiencies in other areas.

2) Rewards Programs: Another effective way to improve customer loyalty is to offer programs that reward repeat business. This could be as simple as a punch card system where customers receive a free item after a string of purchases, or a more sophisticated loyalty scheme that provides points or rewards for aggregate spending.

3) Customer Experience Personalisation: Customers want to feel like individuals, rather than numbers on a spreadsheet. By personalising their experience, it's possible to improve their sense of value. Ask yourself: how should a valued customer be treated? Personal touches could include memorising their preferences, offering recommendations based on these, and maintaining communication via customised emails or promotions.

4) Community: It's amazing how many are likely to be drawn back to your business by the welcoming atmosphere or interactions with other customers. You can foster a warm, inclusive community by hosting events, workshops, meet-and-greets or building online groups where customers are encouraged to connect with one another.

5) Customer Profiling: Whilst it's important not to typecast your customers, you should have a clear understanding of who your regular clientele are and how they spend their time/money. Building definable customer profiles will help you to customise your services, optimise marketing efforts and distribute resources more efficiently, ultimately feeding back into the customer experience itself.

6) Good Will: Customers appreciate transparency and authenticity, so it is important for hospitality businesses to be open, honest and considerate when it comes to their products, services, prices and practices. For example, many businesses within the sector are tempted to invoke hidden costs, but doing so can foster resentment. Instead, aim to be upfront and lenient about any issues that may arise and actively work to resolve them in a timely and satisfactory manner.

7) Customer Feedback: Listening to and addressing customer feedback is crucial for maintaining customer loyalty. This could involve gathering insights through surveys, social media, or other means, and then utilising this information to make relevant adjustments - consider food tastes, pet allergies, room type preferences and more.

8) Freebies: Providing guests with freebies is an excellent way to increase exposure and ensure your brand remains in the memory. Ideas could include pens, bags or, if you're looking to reduce plastic, you could try an electronically-distributed magazine.

9) Loyalty Leads: Your CRM and corporate travel reports can help you identify repeat guests. Configure your system to identify key loyalty leads and capitalise on your insights by providing the customers in question with personalised incentives.

10) Individuality: Over the course of time, the minute details of a meal, a holiday away or a trip to the spa will often fade in the memory of your customer. For this reason, it's important to work on distinguishing your service with a major USP offered nowhere else - this can be something abstract like a key item of decoration to something more obvious, e.g. the location of your business. With this established, it's simply a question of testing, refining and communicating your USP effectively.

By consistently meeting and exceeding expectations, it's possible for a hospitality business to effectively cultivate a strong sense of loyalty and encourage repeat business. Think carefully about who your customers are and what you can offer to incentivise their return - putting in the effort now could help you to build a stronger foundation for the long-term.

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