Owning your customer: Why the hotel sector can learn from retail

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Part of the focus of this year's Annual Hotel Conference is to help hoteliers build a better relationship with their guests
Part of the focus of this year's Annual Hotel Conference is to help hoteliers build a better relationship with their guests

Related tags: Annual hotel conference, Hotel sector, Hotel

The hotel sector could benefit from acting more like retail by better tailoring offers and services to guests' likes and purchasing behaviours.

As the battle for guest ownership continues between hotels and OTAs (online travel agents) Jonathan Langston, co-founder of the Annual Hotel Conference (AHC), said small touches, such as offering a guest their favourite drink in the bar on arrival could help secure direct bookings in the future.

“It’s possible to know your customer’s tastes well and it’s not that difficult to do. It all comes back to who owns that customer. The Expedias and Booking.coms of this world will never know the customer that well, because they don’t really have to and they can’t deliver to them when they are in the hotel anyway. You want them to come back directly to you, so use the information you have,” he told hoteliers.

“The hotel sector could take some learning from the retail sector which understands its customers’ buying patterns, whether it’s Amazon bombarding you with details of things you might like to buy because of your buying history or supermarkets giving you discount vouchers to entice you to spend back with them if you’ve shopped elsewhere. They know how to own their customers.

“This is where the hotel sector can learn from others. Arguably we are a sector that knows our customers the very best because we’re dealing with them on an intimate basis, so half the work is done.”

Performing in transient times

The issue of customer ownership is just one to be discussed at the AHC in Manchester this October whose title this year is Performing in Transient Times. 

Now in its 13th​ year, the two-day event at Hilton Deansgate will again see a host of industry experts gather to share insight to help independent hoteliers improve their business as the industry adapts to a changing environment. 

Discussions will be held on subjects such as hotel food and beverage, design and digital marketing as well as distribution channels.

The conference will also welcome Thomas Dubaere COO hotel services at AccorHotels as a keynote speaker.

“Accor has made some interesting acquisitions and investments, partly into the independent and unbranded space, so Thomas will have some useful insight for the independent hotelier,” said Langston.

“The company has also spent EUROS 225m in improving their skills in direct-to-consumer marketing to break away from the OTA owning their customers. It all comes back to owning the customer.”

To book a place at the Annual Hotel Conference on 12 and 13 October click here​. Book now to take advantage of the early bird rate of £495 plus VAT. 

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