What do you think of when you think of “Guest Loyalty?” Do you think of a business card with a bunch of star-shaped punches in it? Or is it a receipt with a link to an online survey that could win you free coffee for life? Or, is it redeeming points you’ve accumulated for free airline points and hotel rooms?
While these methods have proven to be effective, it begs the question: are guests loyal to your product or just loyal to your loyalty program? Who are your actual loyal guests? The truth is, your genuinely loyal guests are not ones who’ve committed to a program you’ve put in place, but have expressed loyalty to the product you provide or the service you deliver. Your most loyal guests do not need to be incentivized to come back.
The guest experience is a cycle. A new guest comes into the cycle, and when done correctly, the guest leaves satisfied with desire to return. The cycle beings, and the wheel is spinning. And when the guest influences other guests to visit too, the cycle starts to snowball.
If we continue to properly manage the guest experience cycle and continue to spin the wheel so that it gains more and more momentum (or roll the snowball down the hill so that it grows), guest loyalty can be controlled to a science. The more loyalty we produce, the more loyalty is capable of being produced. This increases at a multipliable rate that can quickly become a monumental number. We build a network through word of mouth and direct communication, and utilize the legs that we build to build more legs. If we can persuade say, three guests a day to bring three more guests with them the next time they visit, we allow guests to do the marketing efforts for us.
Once we have initiated the snowball forming sequence by delivering a superior experience, we want to start rolling it, and rolling it fast. Our goal, through word of mouth and social networking, is for these three individuals to tell three other individuals of how fantastic the business is, influence them to become a first time visit, and let us do our part in properly putting each of them through the guest experience cycle. By doing this correctly, we have increased the rate at which the snowball will grow. The process continues over and over again, ideally in perpetuity. The size of the network multiplies more and more, and the “true” loyalty rate of the business goes up and up.
Just for fun, let’s calculate what that impact has the potential to yield. Take for instance each loyal guest spends $400 annually within your business and plans to do so in perpetuity. If each guest brings three more into the equation just once, after one year you will be generating more than $212 million annually from those three guests and the additional business they’ve brought in. Of course I’m doing simple math and removing significant factors from the equation, but this is the conceptual perspective I’m intending to convey.
Conceptually, it’s simple. Create a system of best practices, build guest loyalty into the system, and just implement it over and over again. Practically, it can be very difficult, but all you have to do is follow your system, align your staff with your system, and stay on track. When you get off track, you get back on – that’s why service failure and recovery is built into the model. You have all of your bases covered, even when things don’t go your way and you fail to synchronize the post-visit sequence and the pre-arrival sequence in the first attempt.
What are you doing to use your guests to market your business, thus creating the loyalty snowball?
As the Founder of BackLooper, a consumer insights tool, Joshua not only helps attractions generate higher volumes of customer feedback, but provides them with the intelligence needed to correct the most pressing concerns that detract from the guest experience. Joshua’s passion for guest experience comes from his background in hospitality and tourism, serving visitors from all around the world and specializing in complex service failure resolution. BackLooper has proven to help attractions optimize their feedback loop and foster guest loyalty.