Your Bottom Line
The monetary results that come from putting your customers first is evident not just in the hospitality industry, but all of the top companies in the world. Zappos, Apple, and Disney are all brands that have been praised for their dedication to their customers. Here are some quick stats that show the power of customer experience
- Companies that excel at customer experience grow revenue 4-8% above the market
- 55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience
- Customer Experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020
The hospitality industry is no different. In the hotel sector, customer experience is even more central. 66% of hotel guests who say they would go out of their way to stay at a desired hotel claim they would do so because of a positive experience with the hotel, making it the top reason before price (51%), location (48%), familiarity with the brand (45%), and reward points (30%), among others.
Why is customer experience so much more powerful than price? There has been a huge shift away from spending money on tangible things over the last few decades. The “Experience Economy” is strong, and if you embrace it head on, you avoid becoming a commodity. When you’re a commodity, you compete on price. So therefore, when you create a memorable experience, you’re doing the opposite of commoditizing, and then you can charge more.
The three biggest opportunities for increasing the monetary value of a guest’s customer experience are as follows:
A welcome beverage. A surprise detail at turn-down service. A book in the bedside table that triggers positive memories. A fun sign in the lobby. The little details contribute to the overall experience more than you could ever know. When they all come together to tell a story, and evoke a strong emotion, that’s when you can charge more. Think of how you engage all five senses of your customer throughout their stay. Is there a consistent, compelling theme to these sensory cues? To create the desired impression, you must provide cues that affirm the nature of the experience.
ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES
Travel & leisure customers budget a certain amount for hotel and a certain amount for entertainment. If you provide a certain level of entertainment to your guest, you can command a higher rate. Sure, most travelers are going to spend a portion of their day out and about, sightseeing and doing their own tours and activities. But what about the hours and hours of downtime in between? If you can deliver an authentic experience that guests don’t have to leave the premises for, you’re doing your guests a huge solid. Whether your activities are add-ons, or built into your nightly rate and positioned as all-inclusive fun, you’re going to see a positive ROI.
PACKAGES, EVENTS & RETREATS
Creative packages (I’m not talking just another ‘romance’ package) are great ways to build in serious value to your customer – and to increase their value to your bottom line. You can give guests a unique way to stay and play, and if you can collaborate with local businesses & brands, you may even save yourself some money. Packages should not be stagnant – you should always be thinking of new ways to entice guests with bigger and better offerings. Same goes for events and retreats. How can you help your guests live out their wildest dreams? Start there, and you'll never want for customers.
If you are wondering how a customer experience overhaul leads to ROI, here are some things to consider:
- Spend some time looking at the top boutique hotels in the world. Besides the destination, what is it that allows those hotels to command $600+ a night?
- If you could provide a better experience to your customers, and you know they’re willing to spend more for a great experience, how much more could you charge? How would it impact your bottom line over the next year if you could increase your rate by 25%?
- Think about the opportunities you could be missing out on. Could experiences and/or collaborating with other businesses be a high-value add-on to your nightly rate?
- If you gave travelers a no-brainer reason to choose your hotel over your competitors, how would that impact your occupancy rate? What if you could increase your occupancy by 10%? What sort of ROI would that be?
If your goal was to elevate your experience so that you could increase your nightly rate to $300/night and increase your occupancy by 10%...
Standard Experience: 50 rooms at 70% occupancy at $250/night ($3,193,750)
Elevated Experience: 50 rooms at 80% occupancy at $300/night ($4,380,000)
You would net nearly $1.2 million in additional revenue. That’s a 37% increase. And that’s just the room rate. If you focused on selling more special packages, and add-on experiences, you could be looking at customer value of $400-500 a day. You could double your revenue.
Another aspect to consider: How much would you save on advertising and SEO if you could benefit more from word-of-mouth (both on and offline), positive reviews, and advocacy from your best customers? And how nice would it be to stop guestimating on your marketing budget allocation? And what if you could start driving a much higher percentage of direct bookings?
Once you have a customer experience that resonates with your customers and goes above and beyond their expectations, the 5-star reviews will come rolling in. Travelers will be beyond excited to brag about their stay on social media. The Instagram influencers will take notice, and so will the popular travel accounts that repost photos from beautiful hotels around the world. Picture your hotel in the next issues of Travel + Leisure and Departures.
Sound too good to be true? I can’t stress this enough: people are HUNGRY for unforgettable experiences. And travel budgets are increasing!
But so is competition. And on social media, it’s easy to get drowned out. That's why having a strong story and clear position are crucial. Once you have those, marketing will be a breeze!
No one got into the hospitality industry to put out fires all day and deal with unhappy customers. Transactional, uninspired relationships are not doing anyone any favors. An elevated customer experience, however, will instill a greater sense of pride in your employees. It will re-engage them and boost morale across the board.
This has a cyclical effect because when your employees are happy, your customers are happy. And when your customers are happy, your employees are happy! A great culture attracts great talent, and great talent delivers unforgettable experiences.
Get your entire staff on board with your vision. Create policies that inspire (and don’t hinder) their work. Make sure they have the resources to deliver a great customer experience. Invite them into the conversation and listen to their ideas. When you engage your employees and allow them to take part in the development of customer experience programs, they’re far more likely to deliver those programs because they’ve participated in their creation.