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How to win friends and influence people… Or in hotelier speak – How to gain bookings and set yourself out from the crowd…

In today’s world of ever-increasing competition, how on earth do you set yourself out from the crowd and be heard above all the ‘noise’ that is not only competing hotels but aggressive OTA’s and an increasing dominance from Google?

I have written many times about service but I would like to centre this blog around what is a definite shift in our customers thinking and buying behaviour that many hotels are yet to consider. And what are these changes? Well, it includes a shift towards more ethical buying. We can see a very clear change in our customers thinking – much of which can be attributed to what I have nicknamed ‘the David Attenburgh’ effect.

Our customers are much more aware of their carbon footprint and actively seek hotels that can show that they are doing their best to make a shift towards being more environmentally friendly. We all know that our customers are demanding drinks that are straw-free; toiletries that aren’t in teeny-tiny bottles that shout ‘I am bad for the planet’; and they definitely don’t need the plastic ducks in the bath (I am determined to start a ditch-the-duck campaign!). But it is more than that. Customers now want to know what you are doing to reduce the wastage on light, heat, water, fuel and even kitchen waste. There is a large group of ethical buyers and this group is ever increasing.

The second shift in behaviour is towards a hotel than can show that they have a charitable culture and that they actively donate to local charities. There are many websites as you know that will ’round your purchase up’ and donate that rounding to charity – meaning the customer actually pays. But what I actually mean is that a hotel is being seen to give willingly of their own accord to a charity and cough-up that donation themselves.

I have first hand experience of this myself when choosing between two hotels in Barcelona for a short break. Both were in great locations; both within my budget but I choose the hotel who donated to a local homeless charity and had a widget on their site to show just how much they had freely given. Genius! It certainly affected my buying decision and I am not alone.

The third shift I believe is in the kind of menu options we offer. More and more people are becoming vegetarian or vegan. Lots more are opting for alcohol free days (who would guess it!!!). But seriously, our dining habits are becoming much healthier and I am still shocked to see menu’s firmly stuck in 1992 with a nut roast or veggie burger as the only option. Our customers want meat free; dairy free; gluten free, even alcoholic free options and that means offering delicious and inspired choices, not only in food but in beverage options.

My absolute favourite David Bowie quote is ‘the future belongs to those who hear it coming’. Do you? Are you ready, because you know what, it is already here…

If you do any of the above then shout about it on your website! Stand out from the crowd! Prove to your guests that you are not a bed factory. You are not just a room for the night. You are not even just about service, quality and experience… You understand that they are trying to be ethical in the way they lead their lives and you understand that; empthaise with it and even take it to the next level!

Embrace your customers thinking and I promise, you won’t look back…

‘helping independent hotels make dynamic price decisions and grow revenue through smart technology and useful data’