The Loyalty Principles: Gain and Retain Guests through Best Practices in Customer Service and Engagement

By Judy Christa-Cathey VP Global Brand Marketing Hampton Hotels & Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Worldwide | April 08, 2012

In today's competitive marketplace, building a personal and customized relationship between your brand and your guests can make the important difference between one-time stays and a group of deeply loyal customers who drive increased revenue and profitability for your business.

At Hilton Garden Inn (HGI), we strive to set our guests up for success in both their professional and personal lives. We are a brand built on dependability and integrity, and we want to ensure that our guests feel like they're taken care of, whether they're traveling domestically, internationally, for business or for pleasure. We understand that the guest experience is a core factor in differentiating your brand in a competitive marketplace and we believe the following principles are essential to customer engagement and retaining loyal, satisfied guests.

Principle 1: You're only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

Most brands in the hospitality world know that to be successful with client service, you need to have a strong support staff that can act responsibility and quickly at any guest's request. As the old cliche warns "you're only as strong as your weakest link," it is extremely important to create a solid employee training program from the start that's rooted in the customer experience. A new employee orientation should not only focus on the typical day-to-day routine, but should include best practices and interactive role-plays to help train the employee for any guest service situations that may arise.

Employee training does not (and should not) conclude after his or her first day, week or month on the job. Whether it means attending industry conferences, bringing in a trainer or having employees sit down with managers one-on-one, continuous education benefits all levels of employees from the most senior-level manager to the newest, most inexperienced team member. It is essential that your training evolves, especially if your brand is rolling out a new program or initiative, in order to handle any issues that may arise from a practical business or a customer service standpoint.

Many of our most successful properties have established deeply loyal customers due to the personal interactions customers have with staff members they encounter during their stays. It is important to remember that simple, thoughtful gestures go a long way with customers so empowering your staff to go the extra mile will make all the difference.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.