Tag Archives: increasing sales

What’s on your customers’ WINE list**?

Knowing more about your ideal customers, what they want and what you can offer to meet these wants means that:

  • You can make sure you target all your benefits at your customers
  • All your marketing messages address problems you know your customers would like to have solved
  • Your prices are right for your target customers as they perceive they are getting good value for money
  • Your service is of (or above) the standard your customers expect
  • You can offer packages and incentives that relate to your customers’ attitudes and interests
  • You can set your USP (unique selling proposition) to appeal directly to your target market – either creating an affinity with them or demonstrating that you know exactly what they want
  • You can position your ‘brand’ correctly, so that it appeals to your customers. I use the term brand loosely to cover your whole image, and what you represent to your customers, the way your staff interact with customers, and the way you communicate.

You need to have an image of your ideal customers in mind every time you start any activity for your business. It helps to create a mental picture of your customer and visualise him or her on the receiving end of your services, products or offer or responding to any of your marketing.

Whichever category it is, be very clear about who your customers are. The more specific your niche the easier it is to appeal to what they want and to attract their attention.

 

Understand your customers’ WINE list **

Years ago I was introduced to the concept of the customers’ WINE list ** copyright Thameside International. You will never be able to serve or market effectively to your customers unless you really understand their WINE list**. WINE stands for:

  Wants

  Interests

  Needs

  Expectations

Look at everything from your customers’ perspective. The more you know and understand the easier it will be to meet their expectations, give them exactly what they want to win new business as well as create repeat and referral business.

There’s a difference between what people need and what they want. The best way to illustrate this is to think of what happens when you go shopping. What you might actually need is a pair of comfortable hard wearing shoes that you can wear every day for work. However what you want is something that is stylish, and maybe a little unusual, and you end up buying something that is anything but the sensible shoes you set out to buy! Or how often have you come home from a supermarket shopping trip with far more than you intended buy? We might only need something for dinner, but it’s very easy to get tempted by some other things which when we see them we want them, and are often prepared to pay a premium. Think how often you come home with chocolate biscuits, a nice bottle of wine or flowers, none of which you intended to buy. Or you succumb to a special offer on something you wouldn’t normally buy because the offer is so good it tempts you to give it a try.

Don’t assume that you know what they want; your customers’ wants, interests, needs and expectations may be very different from your own.

Determine what your customers want and are looking for when they come to you. What are their likes and dislikes, and other factors that may subconsciously determine their decision? Things such as comfort, the setting, feeling that they have something in common with other guests or staff.

Identify your customers’ highest priorities. What are the things they are particularly looking for and might therefore be prepared to pay a premium? What criteria do they use to assess these? For example, if value for money is important, what factors do they consider when determining value for money? The better you understand these the easier it will be for you to get their attention?

Understanding what’s of interest to your target audience is a great way to not only get their attention but also to build rapport.  Even if they are not looking out specifically for something that appeals to their interests, if you can offer it, you’ll get them hooked. E.g. if you’re an outdoor attraction and people come to you to expel energy and get some exercise (what they want), if you’re able to talk about or show them something that’s of interest (e.g. wildlife or something educational for the children) that’s an added bonus. Understanding people’s interests may help identify areas where they are willing to spend a little extra.

Needs might not be specified or consciously considered but might be a pre requisite, such as be location or facilities. So with a hotel for example someone might only need a roof over their head, a bed, shower and a meal, within a specific budget, but they want an experience, to relax, feel pampered, to have beautiful surroundings, entertainment, etc.

Expectations are seldom stated as there’s almost an assumption that these will be delivered, and might only be highlighted if they are absent. Such things as safety, cleanliness, good service, being appreciated, or consistency only come to a customer’s attention when they are lacking.

Bear in mind that your different customer groups may have very different WINE lists; there may be a few shared requirements, but by analysing what each of your different groups are looking for you can then target your offer, messages and service accordingly.

And – if you really want to understand your customers – you must ask them. Even if you’ve been running your business for a long time bear in mind that your customers’ expectations change which means you could find yourself being left behind. So never stop asking questions and listening to feedback from your customers to fully understand what’s important to them, what they need and what they want.

Customer satisfaction starts with knowing their wants, their interests, their needs and their expectations. Understand these and you’re well on the way to being able to capture the attention of your customers over and above that of your competition.

Exceed these and you’re on track for increasing customer spend, getting repeat business and developing long term loyalty.

** The WINE list is copyright to Thameside International. Special thanks to Thameside for allowing me to use this term


What’s Usain Bolt’s relay baton got to do with customer loyalty?

Jamaican hero Usain Bolt was eventually given back the baton that he and his team-mates ran with to win the Olympic 4x100m men’s relay on Saturday night. It was quite understandable that he’d want to keep a trophy as a reminder of the record breaking race. 

Do any of your customers feel the same about their experiences with you? Are they freely given or unintentionally denied the opportunity to take away anything as a memento of their visit?

What will your customers remember most about their visit to you? What is there that makes your establishment or offer unique, that they might want to take home or share with others, and help build customer loyalty?

Could you offer any of the following either as a gift or as additional sales? Convert your renowned menu or signature dishes into a recipe book, package your hand-made petit fours into a gift box; offer birthday or celebration cakes for customers celebrating special occasions; offer a hand-tied flower bouquet for anniversaries or special occasions; homemade bread, marmalade or other preserves and chutneys; sell luxurious bathroom accessories, robes with your logo, and toiletries. A win-win, the guest has something special to take home and you get an opportunity to ensure they remember you long after they’ve left, and prompt potential repeat business.

Getting personal

Identify the little finishing touches that you can give customers at the end of their visit that will leave them with that wow factor. This might be picking up on an earlier conversation you’ve had with the customer that enables you to give them a personalised memento of their stay.

For example, they raved about a particular dessert so your chef has written out the recipe for them and where they can find the unusual ingredients (or even given them a sample to take home if that’s practical). They’ve been away on business and missed their wife’s birthday, so you assemble and gift wrap a selection of your luxurious toiletries for them to take home. They lost something on a day trip and you manage to source a replacement for them before they leave. They’ve been coveting a plant in your garden so you pot up a cutting for them and wrap it up for a safe journey home. The kids took a shine to a particular toy, game or book, so you pop it into bag for them to take home (or a least source where they can buy it from when they get home).

Be flexible

If they’d like to take their desert home in a goody bag because they are too full to enjoy it, then let them. They ask you about your luxurious robes; why not let them buy one at cost, and gift wrap into the bargain? They didn’t manage to finish that book they borrowed from your ‘library’.

Lasting memories

Give them something as a memento that’s good enough quality that they’ll want to keep it as well as relevant to your offer. It might not be something they’ve experienced this time around, but whet’s their appetite for their next visit.  Cheap and cheerful might hack it the budget market, but is this really how you want to be remembered?

Pass it on

Are your guests away from loved ones, and want to take a gift back home? What do you do, have or use that is unique or unusual and reflects your brand or identity? Homemade preserves, gifts made by a local artist or craftsman that reflect your location, branded toiletries…

Mementos and small gifts provide the perfect way to get your name out there to others. It’s far more subtle than asking someone for a referral, but in effect this is what a well targeted gift can do. This might be in the form of a tangible item, or could be a voucher or exclusive offer.

Even having information about what you do and what you offer to pass on to friends, family and colleagues with some sought after snippets of information or tips is better than nothing to pass on to others.

Show your appreciation

Mementos might provide a great opportunity for increasing sales, but don’t be so hell bent on this that you’re never prepared to give anything away. A small items as a gift is the perfect way to say thank you for their custom, and provides that element of surprise, and builds loyalty. Obviously this needs to be in line with your margins, but even something as small as a print out of the ingredients of their favourite cocktail or the recipe of a dish they asked about, printing out directions for their onward journey, or a kids’ car goodie bag or entertainment pack for the journey home.

And if nothing else, a simple – hand written if it’s practical – thank you note after their visit will keep you in mind for their next visit or when recommending to friends and family.  Remember to leave the door open for repeat business.

 


Facebook – Fad, fan or fear

To what extent have you embraced social media to help market your hotel or restaurant? Are you already a fan of Facebook or do you still think it’s just as fad, or do you fear it.

I have to confess that I’ve been in the last category; I’m fine with LinkedIn and Twitter but up till now just couldn’t get my head round Facebook. Maybe I was a bit sceptical about the value of Facebook as a way to market a hotel or hospitality business.

After attending a webinar earlier this week with Barry Chandler, The Bar Blogger, looking at Facebook specifically for hospitality businesses I’ve been convinced!

Here are just 10 of the tips I picked up on how to use Facebook to help market your hotel or restaurant

  1. You need a Facebook page (opposed to a profile or group) as you can:
    – Ask people to like your page
    – Customise your page
    – Add contact forms
    – Not be limited to the number of fans (with a Facebook profile your limit is 5000)
  2. Choose your name carefully once set up you can’t ever rename your page
  3. Customise your URL to match your business name to make it easier for people to find you
  4. On the welcome tab encourage people to click your like button by giving them some incentive in the same way you would be getting people to sign up for your newsletter
  5. Use the page to capture contact details
  6. Add menu tabs to give more details on specific themes of interest such as your menu
  7. Offer exclusive deals or behind-the-scenes content for your Facebook fans to encourage them to interact
  8. Encourage people to take pictures and add your tag, so all their friends find their way back to your Facebook page
  9. Interact with your fans to get feedback and build the relationship e.g. asking them to vote their preferences
  10. Remember to track how people find you so you know whether or not your Facebook (or any other marketing) activity is working for you

How to Reward Referrals for your Hotel or Restaurant

As an absolute minimum, ensure that you thank anyone who makes referrals for your hotel or restaurant to encourage them to continue to do so in future. Don’t wait to see if this actually leads to business, as what you are looking to reward is the referral process. The more referrals you have the greater the likelihood of gaining new guests.

Consider what other tangible incentives you might give that are of high value to the person making the referral, but don’t cost you the earth. Naturally you’ll want to ensure that the cost of the incentive does not outweigh the life time value of the referral.  But bear in mind what you give as a thank you may also be a way of adding to the life time value of the person making the referral too.

The nature of this incentive will obviously depend on where the referral came from.

For hotel guests or restaurant customers they might include such things as a gift, discount off their next meal, a room upgrade, an invitation to an exclusive event. Perhaps team up with one of your joint venture partners; this could be services or maybe branded products. A win–win–win for you, your joint venture partner and the customer.

For corporate users make the incentive something your guest can benefit from personally. It’s little incentive for them if it is something they’d normally put though business expenses. So can you offer something as a thank you which will encourage them to come back on a personal visit and maybe bring their family and friends too?

For suppliers, joint venture partners or other local businesses you may want to look at alternate ways to say thank you. This might be an opportunity to get in front of some of your other customers or guests through promotional activities or hosting joint special events. Talk to them directly to see how you can return the favour. Just by asking the question will in itself show you appreciate the referral.

Encourage your staff too to make referrals. Let them show they are proud of where they work. The reward obviously needs to reflect the value of the business; recommending your restaurant to a friend doesn’t warrant the same level of recognition as inviting a friend or relative for a wedding show round and subsequent wedding booking.

What might appeal to them may be dependent on the profile of your team. A cash bonus might work for some, but is soon forgotten whereas a couple of tickets for a show or concert, or a night in a sister hotel or meal with a JV partner will be far more memorable – and visible to other team members too to encourage the same from them.

Once you have a referral system in place, keep track of where and how you’re getting successful referrals. This will enable you to find out what works and what doesn’t, so you can continue to refine the process.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


Make the referral process easy for your hotel or restaurant customers

For hotel guests or restaurant diners the sooner you ask for referrals after they have stayed or visited, the better. This is the time they are likely to be most positive about what you delivered.

The way you ask for referrals is key. If you ask: “Do you know anyone who might be interested in receiving details of our promotions?” you are likely to get  “No” or at best “I’ll think about it.”

But if you ask a specific question, for example:

Who else do you know who is celebrating [their birthday, wedding anniversary, retirement …] in the next few months and may be interested in our [all-inclusive weekend breaks, wine promotion…]?

Creating a simple referral form that you include with the bill can encourage existing guests to make referrals. Make this prominent, and offer incentives for them to give you names.

Maintain relationships with your customers, even if the likelihood of more business with them is limited. They are more likely to refer you to friends, colleagues or others if they have had recent communication from you. Even if a guest only stays with you once they have a network of friends and colleagues who may also be your ideal guests. The lifetime value of one guest can be their connections to other guests, too.

On Monday we’ll go on to look at what you can do the reward those who give you referrals to encourage them to do it again, and again.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


How to encourage referrals

Yesterday I was asked what type of incentives hotels or restaurants can provide for loyal customers to encourage them to become ambassadors and drum up business for you. But before we cover that, let’s consider why and how you’d encourage this type of loyalty.

We all know of the importance of online reviews, but I’m not talking here about general comments open to anyone. And offering any incentive for positive reviews will soon get you into hot water with most of the online review sites.

I’m referring here to your regulars, those who are already loyal to you, and if given a little encouragement are happy to refer you to friends, family and colleagues.

Referrals are a great way to build your customer base – if a person comes to you as a result of a referral, you don’t need to go out and find them. This is a much easier way to market a hotel! The person who made the referral has already experienced what you offer and will do the selling for you.

Referrals build loyalty with the people who recommend you – they will want to be seen to stand by their referral by continuing to come to you themselves.

Give people a reason to talk about you

So how do you get people talking about you, and how do you get referrals? As I’ve stated before, they won’t say good things about you unless you meet and exceed their expectations. So first, do something exceptional.  Identify things that are of high value to your guests but low cost to you so you can give added value. Give people that reason to talk about you.

If you don’t ask you don’t get

But referrals won’t always happen unless you ask for them.

If you don’t ask you often don’t get. So don’t be afraid to ask people directly who else they know who may be interested in specific packages or services you offer.

The obvious people to ask for referrals are your existing guests. Focus on those guests or customers who are your ‘perfect guests’ as the people they refer will be a better match to your preferred type of guest.

Think about other people who know you well enough to recommend you. This might include colleagues, suppliers, local businesses, joint venture partners, your own team and others in your network.

This will be easier the better they know you and when they fully understand the extent of everything you offer. So let them experience this first hand. A prime example is your local tourist office – they won’t want to recommend you unless they’ve experience your hospitality first hand. The same goes for local businesses of joint venture partners, who may have customers needing a place to say. So invite them to a showcase event or to a more personalised invitation for dinner, overnight or event.

The same goes for your staff too, they need to experience what your guest experiences. When was the last time any of your team ate in your restaurant, slept in one of your beds, or was pampered in your spa?

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to make the referral process easy.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


How to market a restaurant or hotel through partnerships and joint ventures

Do you know other businesses who already work with your ideal guests? If so, why not set up a joint venture to help market your restaurant or hotel? A joint venture is when you team up or collaborate with another business or an individual to either share resources or help each other out with a promotion or service you can’t offer yourself. Joint ventures provide an ideal opportunity for some low-cost marketing.

To identify prospective joint ventures, think about other businesses that will have lists of people you would like to attract as customers. These don’t have to be competitors (although many businesses do form joint ventures with their competitors quite successfully). They might be suppliers, clubs or organisations who deal with your ideal guests or customers; other businesses who sell complementary services such as local entertainment or attractions; or just fit the profile of your guests by age or location.

Joint ventures may take on many forms. The easiest joint venture is sharing your respective customer and prospect lists. You write to your entire list promoting the joint venture business, and they do the same to their list promoting you.

BUT don’t just give your list to your joint venture partner. There are two reasons for this. You must be the one writing to your list, to respect the privacy of those on it. And your prospects and guests’ trust is in you, not your partner, so when they see something coming from you the message has more credibility and impact. And vice versa for your partner’s list. So for both privacy and effectiveness, only ever write to your own list.

Joint ventures might also be a partnership in a project. A popular option might be hosting a particular event jointly with one of your suppliers, e.g. a wine lovers’ dinner, where your wine supplier provides promotional material and maybe even some of the wine in return for a speaking spot on the night. A win–win all round.

Other joint ventures may be more long-term. For example, if you are close to a particular attraction, you may be able to advertise in their promotional material and on their website (and vice versa) and for each of you to offer or give away vouchers for a discount on entry to the venue, while they give out promotional offers for your hotel. This is a way of third-party endorsement and your joint venture partner will feel a lot happier about doing this if they have had first-hand experience of what you offer, so don’t be afraid to give them a taster.

Don’t limit yourself to entertainment or leisure businesses, though. Think about what businesses you trade with. What businesses do your guests or prospects use? (either locally, in person or virtually, online.)

This type of arrangement may even have further spin-offs, such as you providing catering, accommodation or support for big events. For example, your local tennis club runs a national tournament and recommends your hotel for accommodation (at a preferential rate), and holds its prize giving dinner at the hotel. On the other hand, if the attraction in question is something to be sought after, this may be a good selling feature for your hotel or restaurant if you’re in a position to secure (maybe VIP) entry or tickets in advance.

Becoming an ‘expert’ opens up other opportunities for joint ventures – where do other people interested in your subject go? Think about the golf club, hobby magazine subscribers, spa product suppliers, and so on.

 

If you missed last week’s tele seminar on  The 7 fatal mistakes hoteliers make in getting more business you can still download the recording here


Offer your guests other products and services

Be innovative in identifying other items to offer to your guests – before, during and after their stay, that might help make their stay more enjoyable or memorable.

What is there that makes your establishment or offer unique; what do guests ask about or compliment you on, that they might want to take home or share with others? Could you offer any of the following to add a personal touch?

  • If you often get asked about local events, or things to do, can you send through some literature with confirmation of their booking, with relevant links
  • If you are difficult to find or off the beaten track, can you email directions from Google maps or AA route finder taken from their own postcode to the hotel, (or details of how to get from airports or station if this is more relevant to your target market)
  • If they ask for recipes or comment on your menus, convert your signature dishes into a recipe book or leaflet
  • If they love your hand-made petit fours, package them up into a gift box to take home
  • If you’re a popular venue for celebrating special occasions, offer hand-tied flower bouquets and birthday or celebration cakes
  • If your guests enjoy your home made bread, marmalade or other preserves and chutneys, offer them for sale to take home at the end of their stay
  • Offer your finest ingredients as an off sale – cheese, meat, eggs, etc., if there is something special about them – locally sourced, organic, etc.
  • If your guests love your luxurious bathroom accessories, robes with your logo, and toiletries, offer them for sale (and reduce the temptation to steal them)
  • Do you get asked about your unusual crockery? Why not get in more stocks and sell that or make arrangements with your suppliers for direct home delivery?

 

All these provide that personal touch, and a great talking point from which referrals may well flow. Not to mention a potential source of additional sales.

So think ahead, listen to your customers and pre-empt or respond to their needs. Even if you and you team know it’s all part of your ‘standard’ offer, your guests will appreciate the extra lengths you go to for them to enjoy their stay.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


Cater for special diets and needs in your hotel or restaurant

Catering for special diets and needs is the sort of attention to detail that builds you loyalty and referrals.

Let your guests know in advance if you can provide special diets or meals. Plan ahead for the huge numbers who have some kind of allergy or intolerance to certain foods. If you don’t cater for them, it’s not just their custom you will lose – their whole party will probably end up going somewhere else. You just have to look at any of the big supermarkets and their range of ‘free from’ products to recognise there is a huge market here.

For more articles and resources


Overcome your guests’ challenges

Listen to all the reasons people give for NOT staying, or limiting their stay with you. What other services you can provide that might just tip the balance in favour of that night out, overnight stay or weekend away. Think of the challenges your guests face, and how easily you could solve their problems:

  • No baby sitter – can you offer a babysitting service
  • What to do with the dog – recommend kennels (or allow dogs)
  • Poor transport network – provide a free taxi service to and from the station or airport
  • If I stay away another night I’ll miss my gym session and end up eating more than I should – a common concern for business users, so set up temporary membership arrangements at the local gym, and provide a healthy option light or calorie counted meal
  • The kids will want their bikes, but we don’t have a bike rack – offer bike hire or team up with a local hire shop ~
  • There’s nothing to do if the weather is bad – set up a kids’ play room and indoor entertainment area, and provide games and indoor activities
  • I don’t have time to do my laundry, get my hair cut or legs waxed – provide a laundry and pressing service, or offer complimentary or discount vouchers for your own spa or a local beauty or hair salon

You could take the attitude ‘that’s not my problem’ or you can see these ‘problems’ as great opportunities for additional services. Without having to think too hard or spend too much, people can have a ready-solved problem if you’ve put together a package ‘just for them’.
For more articles and resources