It’s Monday morning, and George and Elizabeth have just checked out of your hotel after enjoying a wonderful weekend stay. Will you ever see them again? They are completely satisfied with the services your hotel provided and have fond memories of their stay, but have you implemented strategies to bring them back for another stay?

With 57% of all travel bookings now being made online, it’s critical that you leverage internet marketing to encourage your visitors to make a return visit.

Do you have an online marketing plan that does the following?

  • Encourages guests to return for another visit
  • Encourages guests to tell their friends about your hotel
  • Leverages your guests’ positive experience to close the sale with other prospects
family travel
Photo Credit – Holiday Extras on Flickr

3 Internet Marketing Tools You Can Use To Encourage Repeat Visits

Social Media

Encourage your customers to connect with you via social media; then carefully manage and leverage the relationship.

  1. Choose your weapon. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to use too many social networks. It’s best to choose 1-3 social networks. For most hotels, Facebook should be the primary network used. Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest (great for hotels in photogenic locations) are possible second choices.
  2. Get connected. How can you encourage your customers to connect with you (i.e. like/follow your profile) on Facebook or other social networks? Print special business cards or postcards inviting customers to connect with your hotel’s social media profile(s). Train front desk staff to provide every customer with one of these cards at checkout. Also consider offering an incentive such as a monthly giveaway on your Facebook page.
  3. Manage the relationship. Nobody wants to be friends with someone who takes and takes but never gives. The same is true for hotels on social media. Your customers are likely to unfollow your profile if you don’t provide them something of value that they like. What can you give to your contacts on Facebook? Monthly giveaways? Stunning photos of your location? Fun photos or videos of events?
  4. Leverage the relationship. Finally, use your social media connections for marketing goals. Post occasional promotional offers, promote your latest content pieces via your social media profiles and ask your contacts to share your content, promotions and other posts with their friends.

Always remember: What’s in it for them?

Email Marketing

Encourage your customers to subscribe to your email newsletter; then carefully manage and leverage the relationship.

  1. Encourage customers to subscribe to your email newsletter. Use the same card to promote your email newsletter that you use to promote your social media profiles. Add a newsletter opt-in box to your website, and set your online booking process to add customers to your newsletter by default.
  2. Manage the relationship. Just like with social media, you need to provide value to your subscribers. In most cases, coupons and promotions aren’t enough (your subscribers likely want things they can enjoy without spending money). Send content that provides enjoyment to your subscribers. Photos, videos and fun facts about local sites, events and attractions can be very effective. Not only will they provide enjoyment to your subscribers, but also, they will subtly remind those past guests of how much fun they could have during another stay at your hotel.
  3. Leverage the relationship. Use your newsletter to promote special offers, encourage repeat visits and promote your content. Unobtrusively, suggest that subscribers forward your newsletter to a friend.

Online Reviews

Encourage your customers to leave a positive review for your company at key online sites.

  1. Choose your weapon. There are hundreds of review sites online, but you’ll need to focus on 1-3 sites. In most cases, it is recommended to work with TripAdvisor and Google Places.
  2. Encourage customers to write a review. You can request a review on the same card you use to promote your social media profiles and email newsletter. To comply with review site guidelines, it’s important that you do not offer customers an incentive for writing a review.

5 Ideas for Free Gifts

Free bonuses can be highly effective strategies to attract more customers to subscribe to your newsletter or connect with your social media profiles. Here are a few ideas to use as bonus offerings.

  1. Free room service item. For example, offer free chocolates delivered to the room during the guest’s next stay.
  2. Free local tour. Partner with a local attraction or tour guide that offers an inexpensive tour in your area. They may be willing to sell you tickets at a steep discount (for you to giveaway) in exchange for the free publicity and new customers.
  3. Free night’s stay. Consider giving away a free night’s stay during your quiet season/time. This will be a high value gift with low cost to you.
  4. Free meal at a local restaurant. A local restaurant may be willing to sell you gift cards at a steep discount in exchange for publicity and new customers.
  5. Local gift item. Give away a book or gift basket relevant to your area.

What strategies do you use to bring customers back for another stay?

This post was contributed by Lorena Starkey. Lauren is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Minot Hyatt House hotel in Minot, ND. You can connect with them on Facebook.