How small hotel businesses should play on the personal touch

Building and maintaining customer relationships is key to a hotel’s longevity. Learning about your guest’s preferences over a number of stays and providing a personal touch when they return helps to create loyal customers.

Unfortunately, operators of small, independent hotels can feel left out of the conversation, thinking that personalising the guest experience is a trend that requires complicated, expensive systems and loyalty programs that the budget will not allow.

Small hotels are in a perfect position to capitalise on the growing trend of focusing on guest’s specific needs. Here are several simple ways to do it:

1. Build Guest Profiles

A truly customised guest experience starts with guest data. If your property uses a property management system (PMS) – and most independent properties do these days – all the data you need should already be at your fingertips.

Your PMS should allow you to collect and store guest information, automatically recording stay history and contact details in guest profiles so that you can identify repeat guests. You should also be able to save additional information to guest profiles, such as birthdays, anniversaries, preferences and interests. Staff learn a lot about guests during interactions throughout the stay cycle and this valuable data should be recorded and used to personalise the guest experience.

2. Send pre and post stay emails

Engaging with guests at every stage is a key way to encourage repeat business and to build the relationship between the hotel and the guest. Sending a pre-arrival email stating that you are looking forward to welcoming the guest to the hotel is a great way to make the customer feel special.

You can also use this method to up-sell any add-ons such as adding flowers to the room or introducing any special offers that you may have available at the time. Post-stay emails can also encourage repeat business and keep the hotel fresh in the guest’s memory when considering another stay in future.

The specially designed emails are also a great way of finding out if guests have any special requirements ahead of their stay and building up a profile to assist you with their next visit.

3. Use Guests’ Names

Using the guest’s name (first or last name as appropriate) is the simplest and one of the most effective ways to personalise the guest experience. It shows your guest they are important to your business and are not just a number. Whether communicating in person, on the phone or by email/text message, using the guest’s name is a fantastic way to start building a rapport and ensuring that the guest feels special.

4. Leaving Handwritten Notes

Leaving handwritten notes in a guest’s room can make customers feel important to the hotel. This personalised touch can be used to welcome a repeat customer back to the hotel, or inviting a new guest to let you know if they need anything is a genuine gesture that is always appreciated.

If your budget allows, complimentary in-room surprises make guests feel valued. Consider leaving wine for guests celebrating a special occasion, or a welcome-back treat for repeat guests.