Customer acquisition and retention for resorts, hotels, and bed & breakfasts

The Pool Table
Image by Biplab Narendra via Flickr

This past week’s blog quietness was because my wife and I went away for a few days to celebrate our 12th anniversary. Every year we rent a lake-side cabin at a small resort, just to get away from our busy lives and to hang out together. Hot tub, fireplace, wine; you know the deal. There’s also pool table in the cabin and Janelle and I are terrible pool players, so that is always worth a few hours of laughter.

We’ve been pretty big advocates of this resort and have recommended it to several of our friends, and we’ve gone every year for the past 5 years.

Each year, I’m reminded of how terrible the resort’s customer acquisition and retention systems are. We first heard about it through an advertisement and that ad wasn’t enough for me to want to go (but thankfully my wife didn’t give me a choice in the matter).

But their (weak) advertising is the only way they are actively getting customers:
When I book with them each year, they don’t make an effort to increase bookings. (They do have my email but don’t seem to use it for anything except to send me payment receipts).

They should consider:

  • Offering an incentive to book in advance. For example, if you book your next visit with them when you check out of your cabin, you should get dinner and wine for two (which is usually an additional extra you can have delivered to your cabin).
  • Making recommendations for occasions that we might not have considered renting. For example, they might suggest to me: “Why not treat Janelle to a weekend away for her birthday?”
  • Offering referral incentives. Heck, we’ve sent them a few thousand dollars worth of referred business over the years, surely they could hit us back with a thank you card at least. Or a bottle of wine.
  • Sending relevant emails. They are a couples resort so they might consider sending bimonthly ideas for dates, candlelight dinner recipes, and maybe he-said/she-said date movie reviews. They might also include last minute discounts or incentives like: “we have 2 cabins open next weekend! First to book gets 25% off” (or something like that).

This resort is a great place but it’s not doing enough to lock in happy customers and to get more customers out. Janelle and I have talked about going elsewhere next year, not because we don’t like this place but because it makes no difference to us; they haven’t given us a reason to return… and it is so easy for the resort to change that!

If your resort, hotel, bed & breakfast wants to increase rentals, take the time to develop a long-term relationship with your happy renters and encourage them to talk you up to their friends.

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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