Give your guests a reason to stay with you
- Brad BentonKeymasterFebruary 7, 2013 at 8:52 pmPost count: 148
There was a time when I went on holiday and was quite happy to sit on the beach and read my book for the duration of my trip. And while I know there are still many travelers who do the same, I’ve become a bit more action-oriented in my travels. Not only do I want to know what activities and attractions I’ll find at a given destination, but I plan my trip accordingly.
Letting guests know what there is to do at and around your hotel is a great way to stand out amongst your competition, particularly if it is something they won’t get elsewhere.
What to talk about
Don’t leave a chance that prospective guests will know what’s on offer. Think like a tourist office. Let guests know what there is to do before they arrive rather than relying on the leaflets and brochures on site.
Build a relationship with your local tourist office to ensure you’re kept up to date with what’s happening and when. What are the things available all year round, such as attractions, theme parks and museums, historical sites, etc.? What festivals, fairs and events take place in your area? What about the great outdoors: scenery, walks, gardens, wildlife and anything that might be of interest to your target market?
While the main attractions certainly are important, highlight also the things guests won’t find in the guide books and tourist literature. The little things can make someone’s stay all that more different or special.
And don’t forget to tell your guests about your own in-house entertainment. If you’re in an area or a climate where guests will want to spend a lot of time in the hotel, let them know what you have to keep them entertained so they’re not left wondering if they’ll be kicking their heals during the long dark evenings or wet weather.
Only the most interesting
The list of potential activities could be endless, so focus instead on only the most interesting. What makes something interesting? Get feedback from your existing guests. What are the types of things they do when they stay with you? What do they enjoy? What do they see as value for money? What are the types of things that prompted them to come to you in the first place? What are the hidden treasures that people enjoyed while staying? What has been recommended by friends and family?
Making it an easy option
Knowing what’s on offer is one thing. Knowing whether it’s feasible is another. Let your guests know the practicalities—how far, how to get there, when places are open. Give guests contact details or links to other websites. (Test these regularly in case they change.) Do certain activities need to be booked in advance, and if so can you organize this for guests?
Make it as easy as possible for your guests to take part in these activities. If guests like walking, will they get frowned on for bringing in their muddy boots, or do you have facilities for getting wet weather gear and walking boots dry. If you offer fantastic fishing, can you organised permits and fishing tackle? If access to some venues is a problem, what can you do to help guests get there?
Work in partnership
If a particular venue, event or attraction helps bring people to your hotel, reach out and form partnerships with their organizing bodies. Start by inviting them to see what you have to offer so they can promote you to their visitors, and vice versa.
What packages or promotions can you put together as a joint venture to benefit both of you as well as offering great value to your guests? Are there any opportunities to run events with these organisations as sponsors, or vice versa? Keeping channels open between you will mean you’re in a position to refer business to one another and continue to create opportunities.
Bring it to life
Don’t just lift descriptions of events and attractions from old brochures. Give your own accounts and descriptions to bring them to life. Highlight your favorite walks or haunts and where you like to spend time when you want to relax or seek adventure. Everyone likes a story, so use your own personal anecdotes.
Ask your team to share their accounts of these places and activities as well. Not only does this help to make the descriptions more personal, but it also lets guests get to know your team and build that relationship before they even arrive.
And if you need to mention something where you don’t have a personal interest, find someone who does. If you have a local race course, but you hate horse racing, for example, find someone who is interested and get them to write about what might be of interest to guests.
Better still, include your guests’ accounts of the things they’ve done while they’ve stayed with you.
Don’t just say it once
It makes sense to include as much relevant information as possible on your website, including pictures and maybe even video clips. But don’t stop there. Your personal accounts and stories make excellent material for blog posts and newsletters, too. They might even provide the perfect subject matter for a free download as an incentive to get prospective guests to sign up to be on your mailing list.
Personalize your confirmation emails with details of what’s coming up during guests’ stays (and remind them if they need to make a booking). Then make sure there’s plenty of information available once they check in. Provide local maps, relevant opening times and up-to-date timetables for public transport or trips, for example.
There’s nothing worse than seeing a hotel website advertising an event that took place six months ago. Implement a schedule to provide continuous updates. Involve your team. Set up “champions” for different types of activities depending on your team’s interests. It’s much easier to pay attention if it’s something of interest to you.
Keep yourself up-to-date too with what’s being talked about in the media and what’s potentially the next big thing for your area. As I write this, Highclere Castle in Berkshire, England is being described as the most bankable country house in the world as it appears for another series in the costume drama Downtown Abbey. What will be making the headlines in your locality?
Conversely, consider if your hotel might be the perfect antidote for those who want to avoid the throngs and masses of well-publicized events.
So whether your market is corporate or leisure, give your guests a compelling reason to stay with you by letting them know what there is to do. Then make it as easy as possible for them to enjoy these activities so they’ll want to come back for more while encouraging friends and colleagues to do the same.
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