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Guest Experience

Why are Your Guests Not Coming Back? 5 Hidden Reasons Why You’re not Escalating

The guests check in, check out, and you never hear from them again. Does it sound familiar?
Johanna Bernuy
Oct 17, 2022
7 min read
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The guests check in, check out, and you never hear from them again. Does it sound familiar?

Hoteliers today face different challenges, and one of them is the lack of guest loyalty. This means: your guests are not returning. They are one-time visitors and that is where everything ends. In this case, the customer journey is clearly linear instead of an “infinite loop”.

If you are currently facing this or a similar situation, there is an explanation as to why is that happening. In fact, in this article, you will find five not-so-obvious reasons that explain why you are not able to increase guest loyalty and make your guests come back to your hotel.

But first, why is guest loyalty important? Why do you need them to come back?

According to Zippia’s stats, 56% of customers will stay loyal to a brand that “gets them”.

Guests that identify with your brand and are loyal to it will return several times. This will increase your revenue without you having to make great efforts to reach them, like creating expensive and massive campaigns or others.

At the same time, when a guest is loyal to a brand, they turn into voluntary ambassadors. Mouth-to-mouth is still a handy tool, especially when it comes from someone you can relate to, and even more, if you know there is no payment involved.

In all its forms, guest loyalty will drive growth in your business, so it is important to pay attention to it.

Then, why are your guests not coming back? Here are 5 hidden reasons:

Reason 1: You have a high customer effort

This means it is too hard for them to get information from your brand, make a request, and more. The customer effort is present from the moment of the booking. If something is too complicated to do, they won’t.

Processes need to be simple, clear and easy to follow. Information needs to be out there before they even ask for it. In that way, they will perceive the whole process of relating with your brand as a smooth experience, instead of a painful one.

As a result, they will want to repeat that experience in the future, instead of completely disregarding your brand.

How to solve a high customer effort in your guest journey?

Reducing customer effort is key when trying to create guest loyalty. Therefore, the main question to ask yourself is: How can you make the experience easier for your prospects? What are the questions commonly being asked and how could you make the answers available to them?

Place yourself in their shoes and what are the things you find complicated. Try that exercise with someone out of your organisation and listen to what they have to say.

‍Learn more reasons why customer effort is important for guest satisfaction.

create memorability to increase guest loyalty

Reason 2: Lack of memorability

Why would your guests go back if your hotel is perceived merely as a place to sleep, with nothing that stands out and makes their experience memorable?

You have the power to turn their experience into something unique and special and stay on their list of hotels they will like to visit again. In this sense, if you are trying to increase guest loyalty, your hotel should be perceived as a destination itself, and not just as a place to stay.

On the other hand, the quality of your service can also have a great impact on this point. If your staff is spending most of their time giving the same answers to guests or taking care of tasks that are not adding value, they won’t have time to pay attention to the important or more complicated requests.

How to solve the lack of memorability in your guest journey?

This is perhaps the most crucial point regarding creating guest loyalty. Your guests need to feel you are offering extraordinary service, and that your hotel is worth remembering and not just one more.

But how do you do this? There are many ways to make yourself “memorable”. For example, you can create expectations when you creatively describe your services. You can also offer something extra in the room, like a welcome card or small chocolates.

Regarding the service and making sure your staff can keep the high quality, there is a great opportunity to help your team be more efficient through automation. If you want to learn more, take a look at this article: Automation in hospitality, how much of it do you really need?

Reason 3: Lack of a connection (pre, during and post)

When a guest makes a booking in your hotel, the relationship with your brand already started. The question is how would you nurture it? If you don’t contact them again until they arrive at your hotel, how are you creating value and connecting with them?

The different stages of your guests’ journey represent huge opportunities for creating value and nurturing your relationship with them. Once they have a booking, you can engage with them by giving them recommendations, local tips, and more. The key is to provide personalised information, using data you can obtain from your CRM.

In addition, according to Mckinsey, 71% of customers are expecting for brands to reach them with personalised messages or services, and 76% of them get frustrated if this does not occur. Therefore, you need to take the opportunity to connect with your guests and you need to do it in a personalised way.

Read this: 9 tips to structure your pre-arrival communication

How to solve the lack of connection in your guest journey?

Don’t think about pre-stay communication as being related only to cross-selling. There are many things you can tell your guests to enrich their experience. This will make them feel seen and heard because you are taking their needs into account.

At the same time, you should think about engaging with them through their preferred channel, as this is the best way to reach them in a friendly way and treat them in a personal way. Remember, every guest has different behaviours and preferences, and you need to acknowledge those differences in order to create value.

If you want to get ideas on how to improve your guest journey, take a look at this guide: Guest Journey Checklist

Reason 4: Expectations weren’t fulfilled

As always, if you lie to your guests or exaggerate the truth, this will not end in a good way. When you promise something wonderful and reality does not even reach the “won”, you are setting yourself up to lose.

This is especially true when people visit hotels. When they see that the description and photos of the different areas in the hotel did not match the reality, they feel disappointed and even deceived. When that happens, you are no longer an option for the future; on the contrary, you become the brand they will complain about to their friends.

How to solve this and create realistic expectations through the guest journey?

The main rule for this is not to overpromise. Make sure you use creativity when describing your hotel or engaging with guests, but always be truthful. Highlight the best aspects of your services but still call them for what they are.

If you identify your different audiences, their profiles and their needs, you will understand more about what they value and how you can provide them with that without having to exaggerate what you can offer.

On the same note, the more they connect with your brand, the more they will get to know the essence and resonate with the experience.

Reason 5: The relationship is with OTA’s but not with your brand

OTAs have captured not only transactions but also the relationship with guests. They make the best use of the guest data from the moment the booking is made.

When this happens, the next time they want to make a booking, they will go to the OTA’s website, but not to your hotel. Therefore, building a relationship with your guests is more important than it seems.

How to solve this and own the relationship with your guests?

How to start going on a different path? First, make sure to obtain your guest data through various communications, and then make good use of it, creating a customer journey that attracts them instead of pushes them away.  

Implement tactics and strategies to establish a valuable relationship with your guests. Add value to their customer journey and make sure you have ways to reconnect with them, meaning, you have their data, they follow your brand on social media and more.

In conclusion:

Remember, guest loyalty will not only help you to bring your guests back but will also allow you to reach new customers through them.

By minimising customer effort, creating memorable experiences, maintaining consistent connections, managing expectations, and reasserting control over guest relationships, hotels can pave the way for increased loyalty, sustained growth, and the conversion of guests into loyal brand ambassadors.

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