If you are a hotelier, then the chances are high that you rely on Online Travel Agents (OTAs), Tour operators and Travel Agents to fill your rooms and then part huge booking commissions with them. Now, look at the below diagram for a fresh approach to finding sales leads and growing your business.
On the left is the current way of ‘lead generation’ by engaging 3rd parties to fill your hotel rooms. And, on the right is the ‘Word of Mouth’ way of ‘lead generation’.
While there are pros and cons in engaging 3rd parties, its the huge booking commissions and poor customer engagement which has been bothering the hoteliers for a long time. So, hoteliers have wanted to explore ‘direct channels’ and some have looked at ‘Social Media’ as one possible mean, but it comes with its own operational challenges, particularly for Small Independent and Boutique Hotels & Resorts who could not compete with the big boys due to lack of resources. There need to be a holistic integrated and automated approach, not just a one-off marketing trick.
The new approach, as depicted above, starts with measuring ‘Guest Experience’. Barring certain economic / budget hotels, guests check-in to a Hotel or Resort for ‘Experience’. So, you want to offer ‘great customer experience’ that will be etched in the minds of the guests forever. And, you want to ‘measure’ it ! If you can’t measure, you don’t know where you stand currently, and you can’t improve too!. We’ll reserve a future article for how to measure your ‘Guest Experience’.
Now, when you measure your guest experience, you’ll be able to find your “Hotel Advocates” OR “Brand Advocates”. These are your customers who have had fantastic experience at your property and are very happy to share the positive experience with friends, family, relatives, business and social contacts.
Who is a “Brand Advocate” and what does he do for your hotel ?
1. Loyal to the Hotel, obviously.
2. Provide ‘repeat bookings’, recommend (Word of Mouth) to family, friends, relatives, business and social contacts.
3. Increase their ‘Wallet Share’ (ie., Purchase more from you…example: at the Hotel Bar, Restaurant etc).
4. Not sensitive to room price changes or temporary drop in service quality.
5. Helps your Hotel to innovate and differentiate from the competition.
If you don’t have any Brand Advocate, then you risk getting ‘commoditized’.
If you go back to point (2), you can see “Brand Advocates” can get very vocal about your Brand, your products & services. With the power of social media, a Brand Advocate’s voice gets amplified several times, and heard by 10s of 100s of your prospects. That’s how your Brand Advocates transform themselves into a Marketing Machine for you and generate Positive Word of Mouth in their most active social channels. All you got to do is provide the necessary tools to help generate and amplify their Positive Word of Mouth.
Now, why is “Word of Mouth” the best form of marketing ?
1. Up to 50% of all purchases happen by Word of Mouth – McKinsey Report
2. 90% of consumers ( travelers including) trust Word of Mouth than Advertising – Zocalo Group
3. Each post by a Brand Advocate on Social Media reaches on an average 150 other people – Forrester Report
4. Creates quality leads, drive sales, lower customer acquisition cost, create customer engagement and Brand Awareness.
And, this is what some top business leaders have to say:
“Word of mouth is very powerful” – Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com
“The #1 Driver of our growth has been Word of Mouth” – Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com
And, why does ‘Word of Mouth’ convert better ?:
So, its clear “Word of Mouth” is a proven mechanism to grow any business. You, as a hotelier, need to provide the necessary “Word of Mouth” tools to your guests to grow your business too. In the upcoming articles, we’ll delve deep into each of the steps involved in “Word of Mouth Marketing” and its associated tangible benefits it can produce for your Hotel. You can also sign-up for a demo of our “Word of Mouth Marketing platform for Hotels & Resorts”.
As always, would love to hear your views !
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