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Industry insights

Is loyalty dead? How to earn loyal customers in hospitality projects.

Customer loyalty is a crucial component of success in the hospitality industry. Recent research suggests that while loyalty may be harder to earn than ever before, the standards and requirements to earn it have significantly gone up. Long gone are the days where customers would blindly follow brands.

In collaboration with the Sleep trade show, we ask hoteliers, hospitality-led design firms and product suppliers how they think about design (and more generally, customer experience) to increase loyalty.

Think about their holistic experience of the space 

Whatever industry you’re in, standing out and creating a lasting impression is guaranteed to win you business.

“To earn loyalty from our guests increasingly means that we need to find new ways to make their experience unique and memorable every time they return to us”, Javier Hortal, Director of Tech Services (EMEA) at Mandarin Oriental tells us. “They need to be satisfied that the emotional connection that they are extending towards the brand is reciprocated and rewarded.”

Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London
Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London

“Some hotels are taking it upon themselves to incorporate unusual services within their designs. For instance, Dukes London in Mayfair (London) has just launched their first mindful room service, ‘The Beditation Butler’. It offers herbal teas, as well as specialised podcasts and playlists to help guests leave the stresses and strains of daily life behind. It’s these extra rooms and services that guests are looking for nowadays which make an impression.”

Dukes, Mayfair, London
Dukes, Mayfair, London

Be consistent in everything you do 

While offering the wow-factor may ensure you win new clients, keeping their business will only be ensured if you can be relied upon to deliver, time and again.

“It is generally harder for our industry to maintain a long-standing relationship – the guest has so much choice and today’s technology means easy access to the latest, exciting hotels no matter where they may be located. You ultimately need to deliver consistently in order to gain loyalty” says Daniel Johannson, Development Director at Campbell Gray.

The Phoenicia, Malta by Campbell Gray
The Phoenicia, Malta by Campbell Gray

Remember, your own experiences can inform the day-to-day operations of your business. “I recently changed my car, purely because the after-sales service with the company was extremely bad,” Creative Director of David Collins Studio, Simon Rawlings, tells us. “ I really felt my custom was worth nothing to them.”

In contrast, Simon and his team have put a lot of effort into ensuring their customers are never treated poorly – and they see an open dialogue as key to their success. “To earn loyalty every customer should feel that they are receiving the utmost attention. We ensure that everyone receives regular check-ins, and that they have a directory of people to contact with any questions or issues. Customer relationships mean everything when it comes to loyalty, and so clear communication at all stages is essential.”

The London Penthouse, NYC, USA by David Collins Studio
The London Penthouse, NYC, USA by David Collins Studio

Hire the right people for your brand 

It’s easy to just focus on the consumer when thinking about loyalty. However, the first thing you need to do is ensure that your employees are inspired to accurately portray your brand. Lauren Kayser, Associate Director at Ipsos Loyalty, has researched the world of customer experience within the travel and hospitality sectors at length, and she sees an unhappy frontline staff as one of the key reasons behind loyalty failing.

“We know there is a direct link between the engagement and motivation of employees and the happiness and satisfaction of customers”, she tells us. “It is therefore crucial that you are recruiting the right staff and ensure they stay motivated, feel empowered and genuinely want to come to work each day. If you don’t, customers will pick up on this and your brand will be directly impacted.”

Most of us have seen how bad interactions can change your view of a brand, and Mike Treanor, Founder and Design Director of Mullan Lighting, is no exception. “I’m most loyal to brands that genuinely want to fulfil their customers’ needs and believe in the products that they’re selling. If the product itself isn’t fit for purpose or the after sales service feels like an inconvenience to the brand in question, then my loyalty diminishes.”

Mullan Lighting at Le Madison, Nice, France
Mullan Lighting at Le Madison, Nice, France

All of the people we’ve spoken to are involved in Sleep – a trade-only hotel design event. Held at the Business Design Centre, London, over 21-22 November, Sleep welcomes interior designers, architects, owners, developers, operators and investors to discover the latest advancements in hotel design. They have a fantastic list of suppliers and conference programme, and this year’s theme is Loyalty: Lessons in Love. Click here to register for your trade ticket in advance.

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