The importance of loyalty is growing stronger and stronger and the competition for the guests is fierce. As important as guest loyalty is to our company, it is even more important that we are loyal to our guests and keep on delivering the exceptional service that they are expecting.
So what are some of the factors that make you loyal to a company or a brand? Personally, I am a big fan of recognition. I will keep on coming back to the clothing store where everyone knows my name and they know what I like. I will keep on coming back to the club where the bouncer knows me on a first name basis and the bartender makes my favorite drink before I even have to ask. And I will keep on purchasing all my electronics from the same company since they always live-up to and go beyond the promise of their products.
During my short, but eventful career within hospitality, I have had the blessing of travelling and experiencing the different cultures of our world and loyalty looks very different across our continents. In the Middle East there is no Front Desk employee without his or her cellphone in the desk at all time. Why? Because your loyal customers will have your personal number on speed dial and will call you at anytime for a reservation, and they trust only you. They know that you will take good care of them and that you will give them the recognition they know they deserve. The guest will call you day or night, on your days off and even during your vacation and the most amazing thing is that it doesn’t compromise the service they will receive when they arrive at the hotel. The employee will call the hotel, make a reservation and personally organize the amenities through the phone and then contact the guest with a confirmation number and wishes of a fantastic stay. This is a level of loyalty and personalized service that I have never experienced anywhere else.
I can’t even imagine bringing my cellphone to the desk in the United States, it would either be frowned upon or even taken from me.
Loyalty comes in a different shape in the States. Yes, repeat guests are recognized but the complete focus on loyalty programs is absurd. I can agree that loyalty programs are a fantastic way of keeping the guests coming back. But that is nothing compared to a guest that comes back over and over again because your hotel is the only place where everyone knows their name and is providing them with exceptional service. That is a property where I would be proud to work and it is definitely the goal I have set for my hotel.