In a modern, globalised world with fierce competition, it is very important for a business to engage with its customers in order to turn them into loyal customers. There are several arenas to engage in with your customers. One of them is for example, through digital channels (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). Imagine you’re going to London and need a place to stay. You go to Booking.com and there they are: hundreds of accommodation providers trying to convince you that their product offers the best value. There is so much, maybe even too much, to choose from, so it is essential for a business to differentiate itself in order to stand out from the competition. Within the hotel industry you often only get one chance to prove yourself and to build a (long-lasting) relationship from there. You want your guests to come back, to stick to your hotel group regardless of the destination they are going to and you want them to recommend and convince others to stay at your hotel as well. So, what is a good practice to do this?
When looking at Hilton for example, the first thing you notice when clicking on their website is that it asks you to select a language. There are over 20 languages to choose from, making the product very accessible. The website also changes when selecting different languages based on where each market segment is most likely to go to (Hilton Hotels & Resorts, 2015). Information is relevant and for the customer therefore, maybe also more personal.
Furthermore, Hilton makes use of the omni channelling technique where multiple channels can be used in order to connect with the organisation (Raconteur, 2014). Bookings can be made online, through the mobile app, but also by telephone. Different phone numbers are provided based on what a person is inquiring about, saving both the customer and organisation time. Contact by email is possible too, but phone numbers seem to stand out on the contact page of the website. This makes sense, because a phone call is more personal, direct and efficient (Hilton Hotels & Resorts, 2015). Customers can be helped much quicker, improving the customer experience.
On social media, Hilton is also available and addressable. Negative comments for example are tackled with a quick and friendly response, offering solutions for customer’s products if possible (Facebook, 2015). Understanding your customer at all times is key.
Another great asset from Hilton, if not the best in regards to customer loyalty, is the Hilton Honours programme. This is a programme allowing customers to save points when booking a hotel or making use of transport and other services/partners that are affiliated with Hilton. The saved points can be redeemed to get discounts on your next stay with Hilton, transport services, shopping, one-of-a-kind experiences and much more (Hilton, 2015). This is of course a clever trick to increase your customers loyalty.
A sense of the so-called calculative commitment has been created, which can be important in a relationship (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). If the customer were to book with a different hotel chain next time, the earned points would go to waste. And what about FOMO (fear of missing out) on those cool one-of-a-kind experiences? No one wants that – better book with Hilton again!
Of course, there is also a sense of affective commitment here as the programme makes you feel appreciated and welcome. As quoted on their Facebook page: ‘the more you stay, the more you get’. And don’t we all want more?
In short, by offering personalised information and contact, multiple communication channels to choose from, and a special honours programme, Hilton has been able to add extra value to their product in the eyes of their customers. Consequently, the customers add value in the form of (extra) purchases and recommendations.
Facebook. (2015). Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Retrieved from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hiltonhotelsuk?brand_redir=125762892900
Hilton. (2015). Retrieved from Hilton HHonors: http://hhonors3.hilton.com/en/index.html
Hilton Hotels & Resorts. (2015). Customer Support. Retrieved from Hilton Hotels & Resorts: http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/customersupport/index.jhtml?xch=1666021316,wq7DV6gWQ8NVk1qMwvHzyCW8yGlGphHTBZ3vyx6zy8hhd4wlbs3K!893407656!1442488374964&cid=OM,HH,RedesignV1A7,Footer
Hilton Hotels & Resorts. (2015). Home. Retrieved from Hilton Hotels & Resorts: http://www3.hilton.com/en/index.html?ignoreGateway=true
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (second edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BV.
Raconteur. (2014). Customer Experience and Loyalty. Retrieved from Customer Experience and Loyalty: http://np.netpublicator.com/netpublication/n54494776