For many travellers, a deciding factor to making a reservation is the hotel's loyalty or reward programme.
While as an independent hotelier you can't compete with the likes of Marriott Reward, Hilton Honours or Leader's Club, it doesn't mean you can't come up with a simple scheme to recognise regular guests.
In the US, a group of independent hoteliers has founded Stash Hotel Rewards. Guests can earn points based on their room rate and redeem them at any of the participating hotels.
As an independent hotel, you should know your guests birthdays, personal preferences, travelling times etc. Use your CRM/CMS system to maximise 'spending opportunities' from your regular guests, such as a complimentary glass of wine with their dinner on their birthday, a reminder that they haven't booked their Easter break yet or a special upgrade offer for their next stay. Talk to your Account Manager about upgrading to Aró Suite this summer. I can honestly say, it blew my mind and I can't wait to see it live! In short, you just need to set the parameters and the system will do the rest for you so you can concentrate on looking after your guests!
The key to building an online relationship with potential guests is utilising all technological touch points and making sure all communication is relevant – maybe don’t send someone an offer for a weekend break if they live next door....
Test, measure, optimise: always tweak and improve what you are offering guest and don’t be afraid to consult some of your most loyal clients to get some feedback.
Look at your competitors and to other industries for ideas and innovation, I think as hoteliers, we can learn a lot from luxury retailers.
Just be honest and true to your hotel's identity and you'll succeed.