Keep Guests Coming Back: 5 Customer Retention Strategies in Hotels

It’s 2022, and other hotels aren’t your only competition anymore: Short-term rentals, motels, hostels, and even glampsites can all be found on major OTAs. And while it’s important to attract guests in the first place with a stellar listing and impressive amenities, that’s only half the battle. 

Customer retention strategies in hotels are essential to fostering brand loyalty and turning your current customer base into loyal guests. That’s why we’ve put together five essential approaches to impressing your guests so they’ll keep coming back year after year. 

Take a look at these strategies to impress guests, increase occupancy, and build a brand that your customers trust.

Use hospitality tech solutions to promote brand loyalty and repeat guests without the extra work. Discover Operto Guest.

Earn devoted, repeat guests 

You’ve probably seen the statistic: Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining one. But did you know that a 5% increase in customer retention can mean a 25% increase in profits? In other words, creating just five loyal guests out of your next 100 could mean an impressive jump in revenue. 

To make this a reality for your hotel, focus on creating brand loyalty among your guests. And brand loyalty isn’t just for big hotel chains—hotels of any size, from 20 rooms to 200, can create a guest experience that turns their guests into brand champions and returning customers. 

With increased guest loyalty, you’ll see more repeat, direct bookings, as well as referrals. Plus, it makes your job as a hotelier easier, as keeping already loyal guests happy requires less effort than attracting and impressing new guests. 

Plus, when your guests are happier, your staff is happier—they have less complaints to deal with and can focus on doing their job instead of putting out fires. When you create brand champions out of your guests, everyone wins.

5 customer retention strategies for hotels

Discover five guest engagement strategies that will help you turn new customers into loyal, repeat guests. 

1. Have impeccable communication

To create loyalty among guests, they have to feel connected to you. One of the best ways to do this is by having outstanding communication. This must be true at every one of your guest journey touchpoints, from pre-stay to post-stay and everything in between. 

Before your guests check in, be proactive by sending a personalized confirmation email. And if you work with guest engagement software, send your customers a link to your guest portal as soon as they make their reservation. 

That way, you can share a customizable digital guidebook so guests can get familiar with your hotel and start planning their trip from the get-go. This is also a good way to minimize cancellations, as you will have already forged a customer relationship before your guest even steps foot in your hotel. 

During their stay, use your guest portal to stay in touch with guests and send them useful information about your hotel and its offering. And after your guests check out, make it easy for them to contact you if they want to rebook directly or have any feedback to share. A guest portal is a perfect solution for seamless guest communication.
Operto Guest digital guidebooks welcome page

Use Operto Guest digital guidebooks to engage your guests at every step of their journey.

2. Research your customers to find out what they need most

Get to know your guests before and during their stay: Post-check-out is too late to ask your guests how they enjoyed their visit, especially with longer reservations of a week or more. 

Send out a mid-stay survey through your guest portal to measure your guests’ level of satisfaction. Not only will this make your guests feel like you truly care about them (because you do), but it also gives you a chance to correct anything they’re unhappy with. 

Room service wasn’t up to standard? Offer them a free breakfast. A/C wasn’t working correctly? Give them the choice of a room upgrade. By gauging customer satisfaction while your guests are still at your hotel, you have the chance to discover exactly what they need to take their stay to the next level, enhancing the customer experience and creating loyal guests. 

With Operto Guest, send your customers a mid-stay review right through the guest app. That way, you can correct any mishaps to give your guests an exceptional experience.

3. Offer frictionless guest-facing processes

The modern guest expects to find all the information they need at their fingertips, and offering contemporary, frictionless guest-facing processes gives you a competitive advantage over other hotels that are behind on these trends. 

There are a number of ways you can offer your guests a smooth experience, including 

  • Online check-in

  • Contactless access

  • In-app messaging

  • Upsells and amenity purchases through smart buttons

A big area where seamless guest processes can make a difference is upon arrival. With digital check-in, guests no longer have to wait in line at the front desk. And by giving your guests independence with smart locks and access codes, they don’t have to worry about a room key not working or being misplaced. 

Operto Connect smart locks

With Operto, offer your guests seamless contactless access, smoothing the guest experience and creating a memorable stay.

Smart locks that integrate with your property management system? Talk about frictionless. Discover how Operto can help you create a smooth stay for your guests.

4. Deliver a genuinely memorable experience 

When you engage with your guests before their stay, you have a better chance of exceeding their expectations during their stay. In your confirmation email or through your guest portal, ask your guests a little bit about their visit when they make their reservation—why they’re coming, where they’re coming from, and who they’re coming with. 

That way, you’ll be able to offer them personalized upsells, bonus amenities, and curated recommendations that are relevant to their trip. To take things to the next level, leave a surprise treat in their room for them to find upon arrival. 

Take a look at some ideas: 

Purpose of trip

Surprise treat

Upsell opportunity

Local recommendation

Family vacation

Coloring books and snack basket

Childcare services

Zoo or aquarium

Romantic getaway

Bottle of wine from local winery

Couple’s massage

Upscale restaurant

Bachelorette party

Handmade soaps and lotion

Happy hour deal

Boat tour or pedal pub

Pro tip: Work with local partners, like restaurants and tour companies, to get a commission out of your local area recommendations. 

Want to communicate with your guests as soon as they book? Reach out through the Operto Guest app to ask why they’re visiting so you can give them an experience they won’t forget.

5. Identify loyal guests and offer special incentives to reinforce the relationship 

When you reward loyalty in the hospitality industry, you’ll see more direct bookings and repeat guests—because when you personalize their stay, you give guests an experience they couldn’t possibly get by staying at a new hotel. 

Andrea Grigg, Head of Global Asset Management at JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, highlights the importance of rewarding loyal guests:  

“Recognition is at the top of the list when it comes to guest satisfaction—returning guests really appreciate when their loyalty to your brand is rewarded.” 

But to know how to cater to your repeat guests, you have to know them. Keep track of the information you glean through the other strategies on this list, making note of why they visit, what they do when they’re in the area, and how they spend their time and money. 

That way, instead of offering a generic 10% discount off their next booking, you can give them a free meal at your restaurant, which they frequent during each stay. Or if they always book a standard room, offer them a discounted upgrade to a premium suite. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to customer loyalty, and the best way to approach it is by knowing your guests and keeping track of their habits and preferences. Doing so is much easier when you use a streamlined guest engagement solution that allows you to communicate with and learn about your guests.
Operto Guest digital guidebooks booking a return page

Go beyond thanking your guests for their stay—invite them to interact on social media and reach out directly to you if they want to book another stay. Then, offer personalized rewards and initiatives for rebooking.

A personalized, unforgettable stay: The golden ticket to guest retention in hotels

Turn existing customers into loyal, repeat guests with these innovative ideas. Because when hotel brands show that they know their guests and care about giving them an exceptional experience, their first-time guests turn into loyal customers.

And with streamlined digital solutions, it’s easy to improve your customer retention rate through seamless guest communication, frictionless processes, customized upsells, and personalized repeat booking incentives. Start fostering brand loyalty and building long-term relationships in which everyone wins. 

Use Operto Guest to learn about your customers, earn their trust, and give them an exceptional stay. You’ll see better reviews, more direct bookings, and loyal guests.

Frequently asked questions about customer retention strategies in hotels

What is the difference between customer retention and customer loyalty?

While very similar, there are slight differences between customer retention and customer loyalty. Customer retention refers to measuring whether a customer continues to use your product or service over time, while customer loyalty measures a customer’s tendency to choose your brand over other alternatives. 

How do hotels retain customers?

Hotels can retain customers in a variety of ways, but the best way to do so is by offering an exceptional guest experience. With frictionless guest-facing processes, stellar communication, and memorable experiences, hotels can increase their customer retention. 

Which factors influence customer retention in hotels?

The biggest factor that influences customer retention in hotels is the guest experience: Simply put, a guest that has an exceptional experience is much more likely to rebook than a guest that has a mediocre or negative experience, regardless of other variables like price and convenience. Other factors that influence customer retention in hotels are booking rates, loyalty programs, and guest outreach.