Several studies have shown that building relationships between a company and its customer is mutually beneficial. However, it seems to be difficult for hotel groups and businesses in general to start a meaningful relationship. To be able to build or maintain a relationship with a potential or already existing customer, it is important to get to know them. By knowing the customer’s wishes and desires, a fitting relationship can be offered. Once one knows the customer, a fitting business strategy can be developed. This strategy describes the companies’ desired customer relationship and how that will be achieved (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
Besides getting to know the customer and formulating a business strategy, it is also important to have a closer look at the hotel group. The most ideal company is a customer-centric organisation, in which everything is organised around customers, so an individualised value proposition can be offered. The value of staying at a hotel for instance does not lie in the room you book, but in experiencing enjoyment and maybe a sense of belongingness (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
After formulating a fitting business strategy, a framework for customer-supplier contact has to be created. This framework focuses on the customer journey and tries to clarify how and why customers make decisions upon purchasing a product or not (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). Marketo (2015) created The Five Principles of Engagement Marketing, a strategy on how to create long lasting, meaningful interactions with people in a few steps.
Engagement marketing is all about connecting with people in several ways. I will explain per principle what is expected from a company, in this case a hotel group.
Connecting with people as individuals
According to Marketo (2015) every company wants to get to know the customer’s individual preferences, so products have to be marketed one on one. In the case of hotel groups this means the following: hotels want to get to know their customers individually so they can figure out which product is attractive to offer them.
Connecting to people based on what they do
There should be a focus on what customers do, a focus on their behaviour. To collect this kind of information you need proper technology, which monitors the (potential) customers’ behaviour via all communication channels. A hotel group can figure out what a customer is interested in for instance by monitoring which links they click in sent e-newsletters.
Connecting to people continuously over time
After putting so much effort into one customer, a company wants to maintain a relationship continuously over time. For hotels this can be tricky since there is a longer buying cycle involved, which means that the clients might not think about the hotel group they booked previously.
Connecting to people directed towards an outcome
Yet once you have created a relationship with a client, you want them to at least become a supporter, ambassador or partner. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts tries to keep a bond with clients by asking them to share their most beautiful Four Seasons experience picture. In this way the hotel group tries to keep in touch with their followers (Facebook, 2015).
Connecting to people everywhere they are
Last but not least, the client should be reached via every online or offline channel possible, since people nowadays switch rapidly from one channel to the other. Hilton for example has many ways to interact with clients: website, email, apps, honour programmes, social media etcetera. By using onmi channel, companies create integrated customer experiences throughout.
All in all, creating a business strategy focused on building relationships with customers can be beneficial for a company. As long as the business strategy keeps in mind the above-mentioned points, long lasting relationships and loyal customers are guaranteed!
Facebook. (2015). Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Retrieved on September 15, 2015, from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FourSeasons?fref=ts
Marketo. (2015). The 5 Principles of Engagement Marketing. Retrieved on September 15, 2015, from Marketo: http://uk.marketo.com/ebooks/elements-of-engagement-marketing/
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BV.