You can have the most beautiful property in the world, the best team of employees, the cleanest facilities, and the tastiest food, but it’s all for nothing unless you’re able to bring new guests through your doors each month.
If you’re like most property managers, your business thrives or dives based largely on your ability to successfully connect with travelers who have never stayed with you before.
There are a lot of ways to get the word out about your property, and there are a lot of techniques that you can implement to drive new traffic to your property website. You could spend a lifetime thinking about which strategies would work best for your business, but at the end of the day, there’s really only one question you should be asking yourself::
Are you actively and successfully leveraging your past and existing guests as salespeople for your property?
If you’re not, you need to be. Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of social media apps and online communities, “word-of-mouth” recommendations are more powerful than they’ve ever been before. More people than ever are relying on the opinions of their friends, family members, and even strangers when making purchasing decisions online.
Your guests have the potential to be powerful sales tools for your business, so the question is, what can you do to get them talking more about you? How do you transform your best guests into your best salespeople, and how do you do it in a way that doesn’t seem overly forceful, desperate, or salesy?
Here are 8 tactics worth trying:
Tip #1: Delight at Every Turn
A good portion of your guests are likely already documenting parts of their vacation and sharing this content with their social media followers. With this in mind, your goal as a property manager should be to create memorable experiences that make guests want to talk about their stay at your resort specifically when they share updates with their friends.
To create unforgettable experiences for your guests, all you need to do is invest in customer delight. Investing in customer delight is all about working intentionally to exceed the expectations that your guests have in their minds. It’s about surprising people with random acts of kindness, little gestures, and special experiences that make them smile.
Here are a few examples/suggestions of ways you could delight your guests and get them talking about you:
- Leave a personalized, handwritten welcome note for guests to find when they enter their rooms for the first time.
- Include a surprise complimentary service as part of their stay, such as access to an onsite photographer, free transportation, free laundry, or vouchers or a free meal.
- Check up with guests mid-way through their stay to make sure they have everything they need, and offer them a bottle of champagne or a speciality food item local to the area.
- Send a handwritten thank you note and a free gift to all guests a few weeks after their stay at your property. Examples could include a coffee mug, a t-shirt, or a keychain fab.
Think about what you could do to go the extra mile with your guests. What can you do to make sure your guests aren’t just satisfied, but overjoyed that they chose to stay with you? If you can put a plan in place to consistently delight each and every one of your guests, it’s much more likely that they will talk to others about the memorable—and specific—experiences they had while staying at your resort.
Tip #2: Make Communication a Priority
In order to transform your guests into salespeople, you need to make an effort to stay in touch with them before, during, and after their stay at your resort, which means making communication a top priority.
Your guests should feel like they have all the information they need to feel comfortable during their stay with you. You can be proactive when it comes to communication by:
- Sending emails to guests prior to arrival providing confirmation details, reservation reminders, and any other relevant information you think they may want to know about ahead of time.
- Providing guests with free maps, guides, booklets, and other helpful information at check-in.
- Giving receipts and room summaries to guests at checkout.
- Sending feedback surveys and thank you emails to guests a few weeks after their stay.
Proactively communicating with guests at every turn will reduce friction, eliminate questions or concerns they may have along the way, and ultimately make it much easier for them to focus on what really matters: relaxing and enjoying their stay with you. When guests are relaxed, they enjoy themselves, and when they enjoy themselves, they tell others about their experience.
Tip #3: Create Viral Opportunities
To get your customers talking more about you on social media, make it easy for them. Create opportunities and reminders at your resort that invite and encourage guests to share photos and videos with their family and friends during their stay. There are a number of ways you can do this—here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Tip #1: Incentivize Sharing – Offer rewards to encourage people to share photos of your resort on social media. Give free meal vouchers or discounted drinks for guests who show you that they’ve posted new content about your resort on their Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter profiles.
- Tip #2: Create Sharing Hubs – Create different photo opportunity locations around your resort to remind guests to snap a picture. Include messaging on posters or signs. Mark the spots on the resort map that you give them when they check in.
- Tip #3: Share Photos from Others – Regularly share or re-post images from happy guests on your own social media profiles. Remind other guests that they should be taking more pictures while they are on their trip, and use photos from guests to give other people ideas on where to go and what to see while they are staying with you.
- Tip #4: Hire an Onsite Photographer – Hire a professional photographer who can be available to take photos of guests by request. You can also set your photographer up at a popular spot on your property grounds and offer the service as a free added bonus to anyone who stops by (remember: customer delight!). Share the photos on your own social media pages, and send guests digital copies on the same day the photos are taken.
- Tip #5: Create a Unique Hashtag – Create a unique hashtag for your property that guests can use when posting photos, video, and stories about your resort on Twitter and Instagram. Build a community around this hashtag and promote it often, both online and offline.
To implement this tactic at your resort, take some time to think about what your guests talk about and take photos of most while they stay with you.
Tip #4: Offer Discounts for Return Visits
In order for your best guests to become your best salespeople, they have to feel a sense of loyalty to you and your resort. They can’t just be your guests, they have to be your raving fans. Here’s the problem: it takes more than one stay to build loyalty with your guests. As a manager, you need to put strategies in place that pull past guests back to your resort for second, third, and fourth visits.
One easy way to drive people back to your resort for another stay is by offering special discounts for return visits. If you’re not sure what kind of discounts to offer, consider some of these ideas:
- Offer two free nights to any guest who books with you again within the same calendar year.
- Offer complimentary gift packages to returning guests that first-time guests normally have to pay for. For example, you could give away romantic chocolate packages, spa packages, breakfast packages, and health and fitness packages.
- Give a free day-trip excursion to guests who book a stay with you for the third time.
The goal here is to make your guests feel like you genuinely care that they have decided to return to your property for another visit. Make them feel special and appreciated. If you can do that, you’ll build the loyalty that you need in order to transform them into raving fans and effective salespeople for your resort.
Tip #5: Incentivize Referrals
If you want your happy guests to talk about your resort and convince their friends and family members to book reservations with you, offer them actual referral incentives. A referral incentive is a reward that you give out each time someone successfully gets someone in their network to stay at your resort. The type of rewards you give away can depend on the amount of revenue made as a result of the referral.
Here are some ideas of rewards you can give:
- Cash or gift cards
- Discounts on specific rooms at your resort
- A free 3-day stay
- Complimentary rental car
- High-end travel luggage
To track referrals, make sure you ask guests at check-in if anyone referred them or told them about your resort. Additionally, make sure your guests know that your referral program exists, and ask them to email you the name and contact information of anyone they refer. This will allow you to confirm that the referral did actually happen, but it will also give you a new lead to reach out to an nurture if they don’t end up booking a stay with you soon after being referred.
Tip #6: Give Them Content to Share
You can also make it easier for guests to spread the word about your resort by creating original content for them to share with their family and friends. The easiest way to do this is by creating a blog for your resort. On your blog, you can post photos and videos of your property, give guests tips on travel, offer recommendations about the surrounding area, and share stories and content from other guests who have stayed with you in the past.
Once you have content on your blog, make an effort to regularly share and promote it on your social media channels. To get even more traction, consider emailing new blog posts and content out to your list of guests.
If you haven’t ever thought about developing a content strategy for your resort, start by reading this beginner’s guidefrom the TRACK blog. It will give you all the information you need to get started.
Tip #7: Embrace What Makes You Different
To help your guests effectively sell their friends and family members on your resort, make sure they understand what it is that makes your property different and unique from other resorts.
Think about what makes your resort and the experience you create for guests better or more interesting than other resorts in your area. Are you known for your spa? For your unique rooms and interior design? For the special amenities you offer? Do you put an emphasis on healthy, organic food? Decide what it is that makes you stand out, then make sure your guests know about it.
Embrace what makes you different by writing about it and promoting it on your website, in welcome packages, in emails, in blog posts, and in social media updates.
Tip #8: Incorporate Guests Into Your Stories
Finally, make your guests part of your story. Help them feel personally invested in your future success. Celebrate the fact that they personally had a hand in growing your business. Go out of your way to incorporate their stories into your stories.
Not sure how to implement this at your resort? Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
- Leave guest books in each room or in the lobby and encourage new visitors to write an entry describing their stay before they leave.
- Incorporate a wall of photos or an album of photos somewhere at your resort. Ask guests to send you photos of their stay that you can add to the board.
- Feature guest stories in blog posts or in your monthly newsletter.
When your guests feel more personally invested and loyal to your resort, they’re more likely to do what they can to direct new guests to book reservations at your property.
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