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Tis the Season…to Earn Guest Loyalty

Have you done enough to make sure your guests and staff are feeling good this holiday season? Here’s how to be sure.

Monday, December 29, 2014
Cherryl Marie
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There’s no place like home for the holidays. But many folks turn to their favorite travel booking site or call their go-to-hotel to get away from the hustle and bustle of the madness of the season. Now is the time to spread holiday cheer and raise the bar by showing your guests that you’re in the spirit of giving them the best vacation experience they’ve had all year long.

First, embrace the season by demonstrating to your team members your commitment to their happiness, as well as to the overall wellbeing of the community around them. This time of year puts a heavy emphasis on those who are less fortunate so arrange a day of volunteerism and exercise your philanthropic side at the local soup kitchen.

Furthermore, celebrate your employees by hosting a breakfast or lunch.

At Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, Andre Sotoff, Vice President and General Manager, shared, “we held an all-employee holiday wellness day with lunch and vendors. Each employee received a free turkey to enjoy over the holidays.”

This is a great time of year to say “thank you” to employees for all their hard work because we all know that happy employees equals happy guests. Simple gestures like this build employee morale but it also awakens the compassion and warmth in your staff that will emanate through their interaction with guests for weeks to come.

Market holiday offerings at your spa or restaurants and tie in a charity component. Inform guests that a portion of proceeds will benefit a particular non-profit.

“We support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital year-round, with a push around the holiday time, said Gary Schweikert, Managing Director of Trump SoHo. “Guests can donate to St. Jude in multiple ways, including purchasing a co-branded ornament, a manicure at the spa, bidding on sports memorabilia auction items, or purchase a special in-room amenity consisting of gingerbread cookies, truffles and other holiday treats.”

Because there’s no better treat than to know how you’re helping others while enjoying a little something nice for yourself.

Red and green and everything in between, now is the time to deck the halls! The Christmas tree might be the most iconic thing that reminds guests of the holiday.

At Hotel del Coronado, “the whole property is decked out in trees, fresh holly and festive lights, so naturally the holidays are all around despite the Southern California location,” said Sotoff.

Put a few trees up around the property; strategically arrange some Poinsettias near high-traffic hallways and waiting areas like the front lobby. Route Christmas light strings around the lobby bar and around the bell desk.

Do you have the advantage of being located in a four-season city? Use Mother Nature’s magic as your backdrop and light up your hotel to complement the beauty that your region is known for.

At Hotel Colorado in Glenwood, hotel management utilizes the Rocky Mountains’ snowcapped peaks as a huge background to complement its hotel’s display of more than 250,000 lights, gingerbread houses and a life-sized Santa.

Sugar and spice and everything nice is a great mentality to have if you want to savor the sweet tooth in your guests through holiday confections. Create holiday menus at your dining establishments and go the pre-fixe route if your chefs welcome the idea.

“We will have special holiday menus from our in-room dining team and our signature restaurant, Koi,” said Schweikert.

While many guests want to hand select the items off the dinner menu, others want to turn to the restaurant to select its best signature dishes. Communicate to guests the ease and convenience of making reservations by having your front desk staff offer to make the arrangements upon check in. Send them an email or newsletter with all your dining specials, shortly after they’ve booked a holiday stay at your property.

Honey…don’t forget the kids! Make sure your staff is prepared to accommodate to your guests, no matter what the age. Because the holiday is known for quality family time, many gather their families on the road (or plane and whatever they may fancy). What do most kids remember most about this time of year? The fabled Santa Claus of course.

At Hotel del Coronado, “employees dressed as elves help Santa gather up little ones throughout their signature Sunday brunch and bring them over to special section of the room for Holiday-themed crafts, and a visit with Santa,” said Sotoff. “Kids love meeting Santa and making the crafts, and the parents love that their children are entertained.”

As if that wasn’t enough, guests with young ones have the option of purchasing the Elf Tuck-In amenity.

“Our recreation team dress as elves. Their velvet suits and pointy boots are lifelike, and they bring stockings to the children and read a bedtime story,” Sotoff explained. “Kids even get a stocking full of candy and toys.”

For your guests traveling kid-free and looking to ignite their romance over a holiday vacation, perhaps consider a romantic package that will help drive your end-of-year revenue.

Schweikert talks about Trump SoHo’s Under the Mistletoe package. “Guests will be delighted to find a festive sprig of mistletoe displayed in their room or suite with a bottle of bubbly to share. Couples who book the amenity will also be treated to a 60-minute romantic couple’s massage at The Spa at Trump.”

At Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, they offer the Naughty and Nice package, which invites all guests, no matter their relationship status, to have a little fun and enjoy some relaxation. The package includes breakfast in bed, spa credit and a late checkout.

“The Naughty and Nice package is perfect for anyone, any time of year—couples or friends—because who doesn’t love great dining and a trip to our Rock Spa?” said Stan Kantowski, General Manager at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. “It’s also a great way to treat yourself!”

So how are you going to get the word out without inundating your customers with junk mail and newsletters they won’t think twice to read? Consider mobile marketing, which Tricia Elder, Director of Client Strategy with the multi-channel marketing company known as Mobile Storm, explains is all about engaging clients and driving loyalty.

“We are seeing a lot of hotel clients engaging their customers through mobile campaigns that offer incentives and fun ways to win a great takeaway,” said Elder. “Whether it’s a free night’s stay, free game play or a spa credit, guests love the excitement of these promotions and are more opt to input their data when the reward is worthy.”

She also recommends that hotels implement what she refers to as ‘selfless content.’

“Many hotels this time of year is doing this type of messaging, which can be something as simple as ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Happy New Year.’ It’s just a great way to thank your guests for their loyalty – and has really nothing to do with advertising a product or promotion to them.”

Let’s close out the year with a bang – healthy sales numbers, constant influx of guests and a festive atmosphere to get everyone into the joyful spirit.

Cherryl Marie
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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