Is guest loyalty on the decline?
Many B&B’s place a huge emphasis on driving guest loyalty and repeat visits, after all it’s much easier to convince someone to stay with you if they’ve already had a positive experience at your property. But, can guest loyalty continue to be relied upon as a core part of your business strategy?
Here we’re exploring evolving guest behaviours and influences on making a booking, to explore the theme of guest loyalty and question whether securing a larger proportion of repeat visitors is relevant for B&B’s.
Battling against a generation of comparison shoppers
Since the dawn of internet shopping the art of retaining your past guest’s attention has become a challenge. It’s easy for people to be distracted from their great stay with you and be tempted by new experiences and low-cost travel.
Low-cost won’t always win but with booking decisions largely influenced by guest reviews it’s a task for B&B’s to find that sweet spot between affordability and guest experience.
This isn’t just the case in the travel industry. Many consumer brands, across sectors, have reported a decline in brand loyalty, with customers being driven by choice, convenience and cost when making a purchase.
Did loyalty ever really exist?
Not only are travel experts trying to determine whether loyalty still exists among guests, but they have also raised the question of whether it ever existed in the first place.
This is a rather sweeping statement, and one which you’re probably not surprised to hear has been argued by many people in the industry!
In relation to accommodation in particular, brand loyalty can account for a large proportion of many B&B guests. Your location, service, facilities and quality are all factors which guests will remember and revert back to, with the comfort of knowing what they’re paying for.
That said, other factors can be at play when it comes to securing repeat visits. Sure, if guests are returning to the same town then they are likely to visit you again if they enjoyed their stay, but what if circumstances aren’t leading as many guests to visit a location for a second time?
Is a rise in staycations leading to new travel behaviours?
We’re continuing to hear positive news of UK staycations on the rise and it will be interesting to see what impact this has on booking types. For B&B’s this is a fantastic opportunity to boost business, but will this be from new or existing customers?
If guests are spending most of their holidays in the UK then it may be that many will opt for new destinations, using their time off to explore new corners of the country in a bid to gain new experiences.
This is of course just one theory, and an assumption at that, but it could correlate with the decline in loyalty that businesses are experiencing.
The important thing is for you to be clear on whether trying to secure repeat bookings is a good use of your time. If in fact the behaviour of your typical guests is changing, then it may be time for you to re-think your strategy.
So, how can you make an informed decision on which route to take?
Get to know your guests a little better…
You don’t need to get technical and start wading through years of guest information, but it would be useful to start to segment your guests in to ‘types’. Start by giving some thought to who your guests are and what drives them to travel and stay with you.
Are they holiday-makers, weekend visitors, business travellers? Have they travelled one hour or six to stay with you? Have they stayed more than once already? Do they travel for a local event perhaps?
From this you can start to make assumptions on whether your B&B has the potential to drive repeat visits or not. For example, if you attract a lot of business travellers, people who travel short distances for a night or two, and you attract many people through local events then it’s likely that these people will make the trip to your town/city more than once, and if so you need to be their accommodation of choice.
If you think your guests will generally visit just once, on holiday perhaps, then you may want to focus your time and marketing efforts on attracting new guests.
Ways to activate guest loyalty at your B&B:
- Reward loyalty with discounts, e.g. promote ‘get 10% of our next stay with us’ in their room, or on check-out materials
Remind people you’re there, e.g. encourage guests to follow you on social media
Be timely, they may have stayed with you to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, or to attend a local event e.g. get in touch as it approaches a year since they stayed with you
Make it personal, e.g. ask guests if they’ve stayed with you before when they book so you can ‘welcome them back’ to make their visit even more memorable
We’d love to hear your view on this topic. Do you have many repeat guests? Do you think the number of loyal visitors is declining? Let us know via Facebook.