Bring Guests Back Again, and Again with a Great Brand

As a boutique or independently owned hotel manager or owner, you want to use your brand strategy to build loyal, returning guests. Getting guests in the hotel and servicing their stay for the first time is just part of the battle. Another major part of your brand strategy should be to get guests excited about the experience they had at your hotel, so they want to come back again and again. This article is all about ways you can enhance the hotel experience and use brand strategy to build guest loyalty.

There are 9 recommendations which can enhance the guest experience at your boutique hotel. These brand recommendations are intentionally built around people and culture.

1. Elegant guest experience

Often times when hoteliers think of elegance, they think of the cost. Just the fact that your hotel is independently owned, and/or a boutique destination already sets the tone for an elegant guest experience. An elegant guest experience is an experience where your brand strategy comes to the surface. The guest has an experience which is pleasing, graceful, stylish, and most importantly consistent. Elegance is perceived differently by nearly every person; however, most often elegance is referred to with only two words, unique and simple. Invest in your brand so the guest experience is unique and simple. Don’t over complicate the experience.

Don’t over complicate the experience.

2. Develop boutique concierge services

Your brand represents your hotel’s culture. As such, the customer experience and service should be a significant part of the strategy. Independently owned hotels overlook the concierge service offering to guests far too often. However, the ones which get concierge service right, stand out and create loyal guests. Good concierge services help guests have an amazing experience outside of your hotel. Concierge services should recommend, arrange, and reserve services for guests from your hotel partners who also represent your brand culture. By doing so, the experience is carried into the local community and outside of your hotel. You’ll find that guests will seek out your fun spot when they come back to town. This is a strong indicator of brand loyalty.

3. Empower and reward hotel employees

People should be central to your brand strategy. Employees are people and should be empowered to make decisions as such, even though there could be an error. When employees are empowered to service guests, the guest experience benefits every time. While errors are possible, rewarding your employees when the right behavior is caught is ideal over calling out the things they did wrong. As a hotelier, this will build up a culture of belonging. You want your employees to feel like they belong with your brand story.

4. Reward loyal guests

Guest loyalty should be recognized and rewarded. One example of how boutique hotels can deliver this experience is to really know their guests. Welcome back Mr. & Mrs. so and so, are you back in town to visit your folks? How are they doing? It is important that your staff is genuine and not reading a computer screen. Hotel customer relationship management tools can help track this type of information. But it is up to your staff to know who is showing up each day. This example is a reward doesn’t cost much. People love to be remembered and recognized much more than just getting some points or a free bottle of water.

People love to be remembered and recognized.

5. Develop personalized marketing strategies

A personalized marketing strategy goes along with rewarding guests. Knowing your guests makes all the difference to creating brand loyalty. When you email them or post promotions on your social media sites, try to make those messages as personal as you possibly can. Sending an email with “Dear {insert name}” can kill everything you have already done in creating the guest experience in person. However, personalization of your messaging should also go beyond the first line of an email.

6. Resolve maintenance issues and reward guests that mention them

One of the best ways to know about issues with your hotel is to invite guests to tell you and rewarding them when they do. For example, you can call the guest once they get to their room to check and make sure they have everything they need and to get quick feedback about their room. If they mention something isn’t right, fix it if you can. If you can’t fix the issue right away, tell them you’ll have maintenance look into the issue. However, in both cases reward them with dinner or a drink for telling you. Again, you are looking to reward behavior that can improve the guest experience.

7. Align staff, vendors, partners on your brand’s core objectives

Brand alignment is not an easy task. However, when your core objectives are clear it becomes easier. You are building a culture. A culture of what your brand, staff, vendors, partners, and guests want to be part of. As this alignment occurs over time you will notice how customers tend to want to join the cause and experience they had again and again.

8. Get guest feedback, every time you can

Knowing everything you can about your guests is important as mentioned above. Why they come to town, what did they do while they were in town, what things do they enjoy, what are their hobbies? Understanding these will help improve your guest experience. Such feedback will help you attract new guests using the language that is the right message. A message they can relate to. Guest feedback is everything to building a great brand strategy.

9. Make booking dead simple

Far too often boutique hotels are booked through outdated technology and made by phone only. Booking your hotel should be dead simple. Guests typically avoid friction. Think about how many times you tried to buy something in a store or online, but then just left the shopping cart. The line was too long, or you had to re-enter data that the merchant should have already had. When it comes to booking a room with your boutique getaway, it must be easy.

Hotel managers or owners can use brand strategy to build loyal, returning guests. These tips will ensure you execute on your mission to get guests excited about the experience they have had at your hotel. This excitement results in guests that tell others about their experience, in fact, many will post about things immediately on social media. Happy customers cost so much less than those who had a poor experience. However, raving, loyal customers help grow your brand in the hotel space and revenue.


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4 Tips for Hoteliers to Keep Your Boutique Hotel from Failing

While many boutique hotels are failing, others are thriving on many levels. The most successful of these boutique getaways have been successful in applying 4 branding tips that connect what they stand for as a “brand” to their guests. If you are reading this article, you are likely in the business of delighting guests as a manager or owner of a boutique hotel or maybe an independently owned sweet spot.

There are two aspects to your brand – your internal and external brand. Around this, there is often confusion. Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, claims that a brand is a synonym of culture. Your internal culture is paramount to building a healthy business. As you are building your internal culture, it’s equally important to think externally as well. Your brand can also be thought of as your reputation – the way that you are perceived by your guests, and the market. This is especially important for independently owned boutique hotels.

This article will detail 4 ways you, as the hotel manager or owner, can utilize branding, positioning, and identity to keep your hotel from failing. When you think of branding as the action of building your culture and your reputation, you’ll have a clearer gameplan for how this plays out in day-to-day operation. For instance, how do you treat guests when they arrive at your hotel? This is completely controlled by the hotelier and employees, and with a clearly defined plan of action, you’ll know exactly how your guests should be treated. Such an experience contributes to the reputation of your boutique hotel. The tips below are the some of the steps needed to build a boutique hotel brand that sells.

1. Get to Know Your Guests

A basic rule of marketing is that your start any branding, positioning, or marketing project with a single question. Who specifically is my audience? Do I know my guests? When thinking about how well you know your guests, it is not the idea of having data from their generic demographic snapshot, although that data will help. Think about the guest who loves your brand already. Why did your boutique hotel strike passion in their choice? How did they make the purchase decision to stay with your hotel? Would they book it again, why? If not, why not? What are their hobbies and interests? Ask them what the one thing is they enjoyed the most about their stay before they leave. These types of questions will help you better understand who your ideal guest is and what makes them tick.

The most effective and quickest way to sell more is to match your guests’ needs and wants with what you offer. When it comes to boutique hotels, this probably means location, nostalgia, history, site seeing and so many other factors that the large hotel chains can’t deliver at scale. That is what makes a hotel “boutique” and unique.

Think about a traveler who wants to stay at a quaint, boutique bed and breakfast on the Mississippi River. They are coming in from the west coast seeking to stay close to some historical landmarks from the religious development in the mid-1800s. What will they remember about your boutique hotel experience, so they recommend it to all of their friends and family? Is it the stairwell built in the early 1830’s that present a feeling of sacrifice early settlers made, or will it be the fact the hotel is still hosted by the same family as the original owners? Your brand can be tied to a number of features; however, to survive those features must be what your guests want and need.

2. Get Your Employees Excited About Your Guests

Once you know (really know) your guests, you can work with your staff to get them excited about the guests who are coming to stay at the hotel. Have you ever thought about what makes a great guest experience? How about service in which you don’t have to ask for? Service that just happens. By helping employees understand your guest and what they like to do, where they are coming from, why they are coming to the area, etc., you empower them with information to further expose your brand as a positive experience. Your employees are the vehicle which transports your brand throughout the hotel, guest experience, and local community. Empower them and then take care of them. Running a boutique hotel isn’t the same as running a large national chain. Cater to your employees like you want them to cater to your guests. Hire smart, not cheap employees and stand out.

3. Clearly Define Why Your Boutique Hotel is Different

When it comes to lodging, in most cases, guests have an abundance of choices. The list is even smaller when a guest is looking for a boutique or independently owned hotel. Standing out as a unique brand makes the top five list because you’ve got to offer enough of a value and/or an experience that someone would want to pay a little more for. When it comes to your uniqueness, location is only one of the unique benefits Another might be a horse-drawn tour the area’s historical sites with no added charge and so on. Define how your boutique hotel is different and then be different.

4. Create Consistency with Your Brand Identity at Every Touchpoint

Brand identity is much more than a logo, it’s colors and visual aspects. While those are critical of a clear and consistent message, a great brand identity without correct positioning and messaging don’t work well. Create consistency in both the look of your brand identity (logo) as well as the experience guests have with your hotel. Mike Brown the CEO of Death Wish coffee understood this concept. He didn’t want to build just another coffee shop. While the story is much better coming from Mike, the essence is that his customers wanted the strongest coffee ever made. Not the smoothest, best tasting, but the strongest. The brand Death Wish came about because the owner listened to his customers. His customers wanted the energy to work a second job. They wanted the ability to work themselves to death figuratively. The Death Wish name, logo, and slogan tell this story. It is consistent, and the coffee is consistently the strongest in the market. The experience isn’t the focus, but how well it gets the job of creating energy done is. It delivers energy to work oneself to death by delivering the world’s strongest coffee.

Concluding Remarks

As a hotelier, you don’t want to fail. To succeed you must know your guests so well that you understand exactly what they want and need. You then get your team laser focused and excited to deliver a unique experience to your them. Then deliver that experience with consistency. While boutique hotel marketing takes much effort to get it right, spending time on these 4 tips can help you position your brand to avoid failure.


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