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Asking for referrals can be hard! I’m going to share how to make it not only easier but a natural part of your life as a hotelier/innkeeper.

Welcome to another edition of hospitality property school.

I am your instructor, Gerry MacPherson.

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As an independent hotel, resort, inn or bed and breakfast, a very effective way to grow your business is through referrals. 

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Unfortunately, referrals do not happen effortlessly. 

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Yes, you might get the odd referral, but if you want your business to grow you have to both earn and ask for them. 

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Let’s begin by talking about how you can earn great referrals from your guests. 

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“You can start by giving them an experience they will remember, you want to WOW your guests”

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Here some ways you can amaze or wow your guests: 

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  1. Show your interest by really listening to them

Ask the right questions during the check-in, in your restaurant, at the bar and listen to the answers but don’t make it obvious.

 

Why?

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All these answers can be recorded in your guest’s profile to be used later. 

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  1. Have the Appropriate Software System

Ensure your guests 2nd, 3rd or 100th visit is as good as their first. Have systems in place to guarantee you are able to have the same degree of service on a consistent basis.

 A quality check-in system should enable you to build a profile for the guests that you can use for every visit.

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  1. Hire the Right Employees

As I had mentioned in Series #2 “Employee Development”, compassion cannot be taught, you can’t give employees the desire to bend over backwards for customers.

Hire employees that can show compassion with your guests. Have the appropriate systems and tools in place in order for them to deliver first-class service.

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  1. Know your Guests

Learn your guest’s names and use them. Also, teach your staff to recognize and remember loyal guests. This will form an immediate sense of hospitality that they’ll certainly find flattering. 

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  1. After the Check-in

Once you have given decent time for your guests to settle in their room, the front desk should phone the guests to make sure everything is in order and acceptable. During this call, you will be able to ask if there are any additional requests that may have been forgotten during check-in. 

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  1. Be Available

Be on hand at your property and have personal contact with your guests to build rapport and confidence. 

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  1. Be flexible!

Don’t be so constrained by your own rules that you can’t extend breakfast for a guest who may wish to sleep in or to extend a check out if someone has a late flight. Is this actually that big a problem if it means your guest enjoyed their stay and they tell others? 

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  1. During turn-down service

Leave simple handwritten notes on the pillow such as “Sleep Tight” or “Sweet Dreams”. 

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  1. Leave Them With the Last Impression

Make certain they realise that you appreciate their business. An earnest “thank you” from you can go a long way.  

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  1. Walk them outside

When your guests have checked out, walk them out the door, like you would do with close friends when they are leaving your home. A warm smile and a handshake can go a long way to encourage guests to return.

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Now you have earned the right to ask for a referral, after a word from our sponsors I will share tips for ASKING for referrals:

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Ask your guests for feedback. Don’t assume your guests are completely satisfied, ask. Rectifying a problem might give you an opportunity to shine and leave a favourable imprint if addressed positively.

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This is an opportunity to exceed expectations. Personal feedback will always win over a comments form or questionnaire. Enquire about what they liked and what disappointed them; you can always learn and continue to improve.

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You could also ask them if they have any new ideas or for their recommendations on how things could be better. Guests will be flattered if you ask for their thoughts.

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Follow up with a simple personalised handwritten thank you note tailored to them a few days after their departure, with a mention of a referral. This will not only show your appreciation, but it will give them something to remember you. 

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Keep in touch.  Stay in touch with them so that when they come to book again you are firmly fixed in their minds. As a function of your outreach, let them know what other activities you have going on or what is happening in your area. Utilize an email list as well as social media.

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 Is this making sense? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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Reward their loyalty with exclusive bargains. Make your faithful guests feel special by setting up exclusive packages or deals. Once again this will show your appreciation of their business, as well as possibly inspiring other bookings. As a loyal guest, the last thing you want to hear about offers only targeting ‘new’ customers.

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Think of the things that are of high value to your guests but affordable to you so you can give added value. Always look at a problem or complaint as an opportunity to go that extra mile to wow your guest.  Make it difficult for them to ever think about not coming back to you. It’s all about affording guests a reason to return.

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Offer time-bound referral bonuses.  During an Email or newsletter campaign, promote the property package and include that as they get additional friends are family members to book, they qualify for a larger discount.  

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Have a referral form on your website that offers discounts or bonuses.  

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Be incredibly thankful. This seems obvious, but so many businesses forget about it. Unless your price point is very low, having someone on your team place a call, send a handwritten note or send a gift for a referral is almost always worth it.

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You can announce that you love referrals in your email signature and voicemail, so that every time a customer contacts you, they are reminded that you love referrals.

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In Conclusion

The bottom line is to talk, stay in touch, and listen to your guests and to feel confident that if you are offering exceptional service your guests, they will be more than happy to refer your property.

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If you have any interesting stories about referrals and would like to share or have any questions or feedback you can leave them in the comments section of the show notes at.

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TO READ OR LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE ON KEYSTONE HOSPITALITY PROPERTY CONSULTING:

https://keystonehospitalitydevelopment.com/KHDC161

 

And don’t forget to join the “6 Day Challenge” here:

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RESOURCES & LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Keystone HDC Post Downloads

We add to them every month.

https://KeystoneHospitalityDevelopment.com/KHDC140

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Join our community in “The Hospitality Property School Group” –Check it Out for One Full Week for Only $1

http://keystonehospitalitydevelopment.com/membership-site

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Listen to The Hospitality Property School Podcast here:

https://keystonehospitalitydevelopment.com/itunes-podcast

https://www.spreaker.com/keystonehdc

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YouTube

https://youtu.be/pxiWajTBhUo

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