As an innkeeper, you are welcoming people into your home, but it's not always easy to make guests feel welcome. You must be absolutely sure you and your staff focus on the basics of genuine hospitality in the following areas:
Answering the phone and replying to email
You’ve allocated plenty of money to get the phone to ring…and then what? Is your staff well-versed in good, clear communication while handling telephone inquiries? Are they good listeners, looking for clues on what the prospective guest is really looking for, or are they treating the call as if it is just one of the hundreds that come in every day?
Let’s remember, when people call or send an e-mail message, they are fully aware that your inn is not one of 1,000 rooms. So their expectation, for the phone and the e-mail reply, is certainly within 24 hours, preferably the same business day. This first impression sets the stage for persuading the guest to actually make the reservation, and also sets up expectations for the actual visit.
If your guest wanted six swimming lagoons and a 50-yard-long breakfast buffet, there are plenty of alternatives for them to consider – yet they choose your inn. Why? Part of the reason and rationale is to enjoy the comfort that comes from staying in a friendly, homey atmosphere of a genuine B&B or inn.
Things to consider:
•How is your staff ‘extending’ themselves during the visit?
•What sort of priority do you set and establish for guest name retention and utilization?
•What sort of standards have you set for ongoing contact, like checking on or interacting with your guests?
•Don’t presume that everyone on your staff sees the practice of service exactly as you do.
•Don’t presume that everyone on your staff delivers their version of hospitality as you would.
•Inspect what you expect and see what sort of rating you would assign to your staff in this important area of in-house contact.
Everyone agrees that the cost of attracting new customers is much greater than the cost retaining satisfied ones and making them repeat guests, right? So why does the essential task of timely, appropriate and creative follow-up tend to get lost amidst all the other duties that need to be completed? Inconsistent follow-up costs you money by reducing repeat and referral business. Use some of the following to express appreciation for your guests’ business:
•Take down a note about a guest's history, then act on some celebration dates to invite guests back. Offer returning guests free flowers and chocolates if they celebrate their anniversaries or birthdays at your inn.
•Use thank-you notes to convey the personality of your inn and remind guests to return.
•Create a regularly scheduled calendar of communication and email or mail it to targeted parts of your past guest list at appropriate times of the year.
These suggestions should help increase your occupancy. In general, innkeepers agree that 60% of their guests are prospective buyers when they call. Just emphasizing the importance of working the phone and e-mail more effectively and initiating conversation about potential experiential options could increase your conversion tracking by about 10%.
Remember: No one really needs to stay with you. Experiential tourism in all of its various shapes and sounds and sizes is going to provide plenty of tempting options for prospective guests to consider as they plan their next trip or getaway. Nevertheless, if you actively employ these three basics of hospitality, you will most likely capture more first-time and repeat guests.