November 10, 2009 - Mumbai.
Whether we deny it or not, most of us are brand conscious. We like and want the quality and status that wearing our Adidas shoes and listening to our Apple iPods brings. Given our attitude about owning the best brands, it isn’t farfetched to believe that when we make room reservations, a hotel’s brand (quality) is an important factor in the decision making process. Consequently, it is imperative for all hotels – big and small to have a strong brand identity and image.
Today's competitive environment has made it increasingly difficult to build and maintain strong brands and loyal guests. When travelers decide where to stay, they don’t solely depend upon the opinions of travel agents or familiar hotel brands. The internet has provide travelers with a range of online comparison tools that can be and are used to compare locations, price, star ratings and amenities instantly. Moreover, other factors such as the fluctuating hospitality market, constant promotions and online word of mouth (blogs, Trip Advisor rating etc.) also affect travelers' decision-making process.
So, given these changing circumstances, does a brand and brand loyalty make a difference to your reservation numbers?
Current Guest Experience Affects Future Reservations
The fluctuating market may affect the number of room bookings and may increase the number of bookings based on price or value for money as compared to brand loyalty. But this is a short term issuse, the minute the market stablizes, travelers will revert to their standard 'quality' driven booking criteria. So, it is important to maintain some level of brand building and maintaining activity. Another very important reason to continue your branding maintaining efforts is reviews. When you provide your guest with a memorable experience from the minute they step through your door, you ensure that when they visit your destination again, they stay with you and you receive positive recommendations on travel review websites. 88% of travelers indicate that travel reviews contribute to their ultimate hotel selection. ~ (Center for Hospitality Research)
Cultivating Brand Loyalty
Cultivating brand loyal guests i.e. guests loyal to your hotel brand involves factors such as trust, satisfaction, commitment etc.
Once a guest steps on to your property, you have only a short period to convert him into a loyal guest, so you need to do everything in your power to make him feel special, respected and satisfied with your services. If a mistake is made - a mixed up order or delayed service (which will happen at some point because we are all human), you can regain his appreciation and ensure that remained of his stay is memorable by making a sincere effort to correct the error. Treat your guests like royalty they will return.
To summarize, the internet enables people from across the globe to communicate and socialize. Travelers use blogs and websites to share their travel experiences. By treating your guests like royalty, you can gain their loyalty and ensure positive reviews for your hotel on blogs and travel websites. This will ensure that you gain repeat guests.