The Original FaceTime

The Original FaceTime

Mark Natale
Mark Natale

Your Client/Brand Loyalty Experience

Working 9 - 5 is an unfamiliar tune for any hospitality professional.

The hospitality industry is a full-time, 24/7-hour job. While you may be "off-the-clock," your customers are still at your property, experiencing every moment.

It's a unique and challenging profession filled with silver linings.

Working in the hospitality field gives daily, direct access to something other industries could only dream of having - its customers. Having this contact at your fingertips is an advantage that should not go untapped. It is an asset that should be part of the Director of Marketing's monthly, if not weekly, procedures.

Walking the floors, speaking directly with clients, inviting them to join you for coffee or tea - this face-to-face contact is priceless and costs other industries thousands of dollars annually for customer feedback and research. Others typically have to wait months or even years for this type of feedback - while we have it at the tips of our fingers.

And while we, as industry professionals, may not be capable of listening to every piece of feedback, our investment of time will establish brand loyalty and provide a face to the brand for clients. It helps avert a crisis.

How often have you read a Trip Advisor review and thought, 'If we knew this information while they were here, we could have fixed it' - it could be the difference between a 2 and 5-star review. It also gives you the insight to improve the business. We each have access to industry studies and reports, but this firsthand data is actual feedback from your target market about your product. It's highly specific to your customer's experience and should be considered when planning a digital marketing strategy.

Spending time away from your desk during office hours can seem tedious considering the other initiatives you need to focus on: monitoring search engine optimization performance, preparing an ad, and planning the social media marketing calendars, for example. Allocating more attention to crisis aversion and client pleasing will enable quick fixes resulting in cutting edge positive effects. Benefits include:

  • Increase client retention and refine the customer journey.
  • Identify those customers who are advocates of your brand and possibly reward them with loyalty programs.
  • A more thorough understanding of the efficacy of your brand promise.

This newfound initiative will have another side effect – more time in and with other departments, departments that probably could use your help. This increased face time will bring valuable, new, and unknown discoveries. More often than not, we find that the brand standards get diluted when put into practice, sometimes to the point that they do more harm than good. You may notice menus, notes, and flyers that will make you wonder if you work at the same organization, but this is valuable and vital information for you to uncover. Take the time to correct the brand inconsistencies and teach the employees not only what to do but WHY they should do it that way.

These insights also give you a front-row seat to what the customer is experiencing - –it's part of the marketing cycle and is just as crucial as the ad space you are investing in. Do not take this for granted.

Managing your time can become one of the most challenging aspects of your job, especially while integrating floor time. Below you'll find some tips to help you prioritize your priorities:

  • Schedule these weekly walk-throughs into your calendar. Treat them as a mandatory meeting. Invite a colleague if it will keep you motivated and on task.
  • Identify repeat clients before they arrive. Make it a point to offer them some of your time during their stay. Upon arrival, send them a card asking them for their time, meet with them, and send a thank you.
  • Ensure your Managing Director is on board with your investment in speaking with clients and the time you will spend ensuring that brand standards are being met.
  • Speak to HR about integrating brand training into employees' onboarding and ongoing training. Make all employees brand ambassadors. The more they understand the brand guidelines, the more productive these walk-throughs will be. Cross-training departments on brand consistency and representation is crucial, and more often than not, it is non-existent. You will find that other departments are thirsty for this information.
  • Work from home. Yes, this may seem counterintuitive as to the recommendation above, but with all this time on the floor, you may need to dedicate some hours to work in a place where you are not prone to interruptions. Since your employees and guests will be seeing more of you, they may want more of your time, and you must be able to still focus on global strategies.
  • Depend on your agency. While implementing this face-time with clients, you will have to rely on your Marketing Agency to keep you on task. They should maintain the position as your eyes and ears of the marketplace and industry trends. A valuable agency will assist you in this initiative, coming in with fresh eyes and ears to ensure that the brand is executed throughout the property and customer experience. Let them generate ideas and synthesize the data you have given them to provide a recommended strategy.
The proper focus from the outset of a project means the difference between getting it right vs. getting it done. Most can get it done, but is that what you set out to do?
Mark Natale
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