As the digital age has taken shape a newly empowered guest has evolved. In order to survive motel management must take these guests into account and provide them with enhanced experiences accordingly or face extinction. Their power certainly lies in the many ‘C’ words that the digital landscape we now live in has provided them.
Digital Darwinism is described by futurist and digital analyst Brian Solis as ‘the phenomenon where technology and society evolve faster than the organisation can adapt.
Change with the times or watch your bookings disappear
Many traditional businesses unable or unwilling to embrace the digital age have been either destroyed or disrupted as technology evolves. It is apparent only those who are asking themselves the question “how can we do this better?” will survive.
Motels embracing the digital tools used by the consumer during their decision-making journey are gaining online bookings whether direct from your website or other online booking agents.
So many small motels have websites, but a guest is unable to book on them. Many only have a “contact us” page, where the guest can leave their name, dates and contact details and is expected to sit and wait.
Guests today, are time poor, multi-tasking and require instantaneous results. Waiting for someone to call them or send an email back is now seen as a waste of time.
Guests want to book and book their accommodation now and not later in the day when you decide to call them or send them an email. They are equipped with their own technology and know how to use it. Today, guests are booking more online because they can achieve their desired result immediately. Once booked the confirmations flow through to the inbox, and everything is sorted in a few clicks.
Society is now mobile and we communicate with more and more people in more places in more ways.
Mobile phones have certainly made us more reachable at any time of the day or night not only making communicating with each other easier, they also give us another option to do more in our day to day life.
You no longer have to be in the “office” or at home in front of a computer to make a booking, you can be at the supermarket, kids school or cafe having lunch with friends the result is immediate
Are you keeping up with the changes? Are you making it easier for your potential guests to book in ways, and at times, they suit them?
Take your business to your potential guests – don’t wait for them to come to you
In the past motel’s marketing plans were localised because that was what worked. A Motel marketing plan consisted of having a good sign out the front and a phone number in the phone book.
Owners relied on word of mouth and position to fill their rooms each day. Wait for a guest to walk in, that was it and at the end of the day the motel owner/manager would sit back and say “we can’t do better than that”.
Forward bookings were few and far between. After all, if someone was travelling from Sydney to Brisbane unless they had stayed at the motel previously, how would they know your motel even existed until they got there.
Today guests have the tools to research what they want well in advance of their trip. They can compare prices, value, position, facilities, availability and read reviews, without leaving their home or workplace.
Word of mouth is now more than just your circle of friends with the adaption of Social media like Facebook, the world has expanded. Social circles that people listen to for advice are no longer just family, friends and people in the town where you live.
Circles are larger and geographically bigger as well, as we constantly crave the need to stay in contact with more and more people, we belong to online groups and subscribe to pages receiving news and information feeds straight to your inbox.
It’s the information highway and it has the potential to bring in far more guests than a sign out the front of your motel.
Are you in all the places you need to be to connect with you potential guests?
Why should your potential guests choose you over your competitors?
Your online presence and reputation are critical for your survival. Motel management can no longer sit and wait for a potential guest to walk in your door.
Guests are making informed decisions about where they are staying, long before they get to there. They are looking at your location and comparing prices, filtering your business against their own needs and wants. If you haven’t got it right online they will and do, stay somewhere else.
They have choices, can see more and research more to find what suits their needs. Whether it be price, location, value for money, parking, pool, WIFI and other facilities, they check it all out and then decide which one bests suits them and make then they make the booking.
Are you giving them all the information … both written and visual … to help them choose your motel above all your competitors?
While customer-centricity isn’t a new term, we often talk about it without really knowing what we mean. So, let’s have a go at really defining the term and how it really does relate to a motel business.
Firstly, what does it mean to be customer-centric? Some define it as making the customer the centre of attention. In fact, many businesses both big and small will say they make the customer the focus, but do they?
Truly becoming customer-centric is critical because customers today have the power to share their opinions through review sites so they can learn more about your motel and its services simply by going online and looking at the opinions and experiences of other people who have already stayed at your motel.
It’s never all about you … it’s always about your guests and what they need?
This poses a great challenge for motel management as missing the mark can cost you, impact your reputation and damage future/potential guests’ decisions to book with you. On the other hand, when you engage with your guests in each aspect of their journey, the rewards for you will be tremendous.
Each guest creates at least five touch points along their journey while they stay at your motel. Information & query, booking, check-in, stay (use of motel services and facilities) and check out.
Make the effort to engage with the guest at each step and do your own research into what they really want or need from you. Put yourself in their position, think like a guest instead of a proprietor or manager and you will soon see where your motel succeeds … and fails.
Work on those points of failure and you will soon be able to make the statement “we are customer centric!”
The players who get it right will be reaping the rewards while others will be left behind.