Who do you think you are talking to?
Do you know your customer? I am guessing that the answer would be a resounding ‘yes!’ but to be honest, when I dig a little deeper, the answer is usually a lot more tenuous than that.
The reason why this is so important, is that you need to know your customer to be able to speak to your customer. And only when you speak to your customer properly can you convey your message properly. If we take a human example, you speak to your Auntie Betty a lot differently than you would speak to your teenage sister and the same is true for customer communication. If we relate this to hotel brands, Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton speak to their customers in a very different way to funky CitizenM or new brand Yotel, so how do you speak to your customers?
The first thing I would suggest would be to find out who your customers actually are and this is often very different to who you think they are. If you are a corporate hotel, what kind of business people are you attracting? Are they blue collar work teams, traditional white collar office workers, travelling sales people who often book as they arrive! Or perhaps you are attracting the new trend of ‘techies’ who arrive in jeans and their best new t-shirt 🙂 What I am alluding to here, is that even if you deem yourself to be a business hotel, what kind of business are you actually in?
And what about leisure guests? Do you think they are all romantic couples wanting a peaceful break? Maybe families who just want a short break or girls who just want to relax in a hot tub with their friends before that next relaxing spa treatment? Again, you need to know what type of leisure guest you are attracting.
On an operational level, that helps with simple things like menu planning – no need for chicken nuggets and chips on the menu if you aren’t attracting children or having roll-away beds and a dozen cots on stand-by. But more importantly, understanding who your guests currently are will help you establish how you should be communicating.
We of course can glean a lot from data and the first place I would look to get the basis of understanding is your PMS. However, nothing beats actually spending time interacting with your real live guests and ask your team to help. Simply stand at check-in; sit in your bar or restaurant and actually gauge your guest – you might well be surprised.
We recently completed this exercise in a luxury spa hotel who had assumed their customer base was couples who wanted a romantic retreat. What we actually found was that the majority of their customers were actually mums and their 20-something year old daughters wanting a spa break and some quality time together. That of course was very specific but overall, it was girls and women travelling together for some ‘me time’.
Once we had nailed that, we built ‘Emma’. Emma is a persona but we give her a name and a job and a car and children and a lifestyle. We designed our customer and now Emma is prevalent in every single decision we make. Her image is everywhere back-of-house, so we never forget who our customer is and just how important she is.
When we write packages, we write them with Emma in mind. We have re-written the content on our website so that we attract ‘Emma’. Our branding, fonts and colours were changed and updated. All of our marketing is aimed at Emma and when we speak we speak with Emma in mind.
This of course should be reviewed every year as we ask ourselves, are we still attracting the Emma’s of this world or do we want to? Perhaps our sales tack has changed… But for now, we know that we want to talk to Emma. We want to attract Emma and that simple process has given our sales team, marketing, front desk and actually every department in the hotel a focus. We know who we are and more importantly, for now, we know our customer.
(and for all things revenue, just firstname.lastname@example.org)