The Guest Vortex - pre-stay to post-stay

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fsconsult's picture
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03/19/2012

When I was doing some work today I came across a video that talked about the Guest Vortex - the process in which a guest goes through from finding the property, booking, staying, and leaving only to return again. The more often they return, the more loyal the guest becomes, and they become a true fan. The video didn't go into a lot of detail about the various steps along the way, but they should be self-explanatory:

  1. Awareness (finding your website, physical B&B, phone number)
  2. Planning (researching your property and the area)
  3. Booking
  4. Pre-Stay
  5. During
  6. Post-Stay
  7. Return

I think most people are pretty good with the Awareness and During parts or else they would be out of business rather quickly. But I did some brainstorming on how to further develop the other points of the vortex to maximize your returns. The full article is located here, and is a bit long.

I wouldn't mind hearing your thoughts on how you help a guest prepare for their stay, and how you reach out to them after they leave the B&B?

__________________

James McCullough, Hospitality Consultant
Four Sides Hospitality Consulting

 

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Silverspoon's picture
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10/16/2011

 I send out a thankyou e-mail a couple of days after a guest leaves.  If they have written a nice note in the guest book I also include a link to TA for a review.  Sometimes they submit the review....sometimes not, but enough of them do that we are #1 in our town at the moment.  I also send an e-mail holiday card during December with a picture of the house all decorated, to remind them that we are open all year.  

Thanks for the WiseStamp link....we are STILL waiting for our site to be updated...this link will come in handy to add links for social media.  At the moment we do have a cute addition to our signiture (remember we are on the coast)    .·´¯`·. ><((((º>.·´¯`·.><((((º>·´¯`·.><((((º>

We get a lot of comments on it...always with a smile!

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Gardens are not made by singing "Oh, how beautiful" and sitting in the shade.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

 

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I don't do any follow up after their stay except for a newsletter 2 times per year. When guests are checking out and they are efusive in their praise, I will ask them if they're on facebook and if so, 'like' us to keep in touch and sometimes I will offer last minute discounts due to cancellations. I have found that FB and now Pinterest is a great way to keep the interest of the guests who really enjoyed their stay with us and guests who are or will become repeats. I've been amazed at how interactive the guests have been! 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

I do not contact previous guests other than the thank you for staying e-mail that is set to be sent about 3 days after they leave IF they are going home or a couple days after they had planned to return home (the Aussies who were to be on the road another 2 weeks). so I do not clog their inbox.

I just took a rez for a lady who had stayed here with her husband - planning to ride their horses on the trail only to have it rain all weekend - even after giving her the number of another inn because I will be leaving town the night she is coming. Since she knows the house and DH, I will just leave a breakfast in the refrigerator for him to bake & serve with fruit in baggies to dump and serve, and coffee ready to put together in the pot and plugged in, etc. Had she NOT been a repeat, I would have refused the reservation, period.

I do have a few repeat guests, but for the most part - other than the horse people - I am a stop over enroute or fall into the category of BTDT (I was that traveler in my travel days - so much to see and not enough time to see it all).

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10/07/2008

 I have to admit I have never used these effects on Paintshop before, so thanks for allowing me.

When I read the title I felt it was asking about "The Guest Vortex" that sucks the innkeeper in... PITAS.

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Gluten free is never free. - Joey Bloggs

 

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Now that is cool!

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Everyday, for good or ill, we intersect with some else's story and become a part of it.

 

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I agree. Unfortunately people are spammed to death. So the follow up electronic version can be iffy.  Don't reach out to them after their staym other than to say thank you. 

They are already given FOLLOW US ON FB, and HERE'S OUR BLOG etc BEFORE they stay, and in their confirmation. Why? Because we want them to see what there is to do here and to help make plans (and hopefully stay longer!)

For 7 years I sent a thank you email, personalized (not a form where I inserted their name) this really didn't increase reviews, didn't bring guests back, and all of them said how much they enjoyed staying here and would tell others.  For one year solid I included a return guest discount coupon also a refer-a-guest discount coupon. (ie $20 off your next stay).  But B&B's are not like hotels, so many guests are one time visits, and if treated right WILL go to a new B&B in the near future.

I now send thank you cards in the mail. If I had not given them a card here, ie if they had a happy anniversary card here, I don't send a second card in the mail.  I am inundated with "take our survey" I am overwhelmed with these personally, I would not send them to a guest.

 

From your article:

There are three things a post-stay email can consist of:

1. A thank you note for staying at the hotel.
2. An invitation to connect on Facebook, Twitter, blog or 
newsletter.

3. Completing a survey, posting on TripAdvisor, or emailing comments to the hotel.

 

fsconsult's picture
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03/19/2012

I'm always surprised when I hear that most people staying in B&Bs aren't repeat guests, because most of the people I know personally choose the same B&B when they visit certain locations. I know I always think about the few B&Bs I've stayed in the past and wish I could go stay in them again, because I enjoyed the company of the innkeepers or owners. It's a much more personal experience than a hotel where the guest is more often than not just a room number and a credit card. 

The reason why I mention the survey is because it gives the property the opportunity to ask more direct questions about the experience than TripAdvisor does. You can tailor it to your needs depending on what you offer, or what you are thinking about offering (ie fitness equipment, sauna, etc). 

I certainly wouldn't repeat the message I send out in a pre and post-stay email. If I mentioned the newsletter and Facebook page in the first email, I would only mention the survey in the post-stay email. 

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

I did a survey once. Took a long time to phrase the questions, only asked 10 so I wouldn't burden the guest, etc. I got 60 responses out of over 600 sent out. I even offered a prize that you didn't have to come here to use.

Almost 0 of those respondents used social media of any kind. 0 used Twitter, 0 used FB, the only time they read our blog was if there was a link in an email I sent.

Our repeat rate is about 30%.

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

It is no reflection on the inn or the innkeeper with the BTDT traveler. We took our kids all over the Country to experience what was available - lead mines, gold mines, battlefields, railroads, museums, scenery, adventure (windjammer cruise of the coast of Maine, whitewater rafting, digging for fossils, etc) - and did not go anywhere twice other than to include a weekend with my Daddy (Ohio/WV) at the start of a trip East and then to wherever and a weekend with DH's parents in AR before heading home. Whe nwe went west, we took another weekend to vist Daddy but almost always ended a vacation in Hot Springs. Too much to see and do to go to the same place all the time. Only the windjammer and Williamsburg have enough to keep me coming back and I did - 4 to windjammer and at least 8 trips to Williamsburg since 1964.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Our previous post-stay communication with guests was 1 + 3. Didn't get anymore reviews than if we didn't ask. (Maybe the way we phrased it wasn't compelling enough.) What we did get were grumpy guests commenting on the color of the living room or stuff like that. Not helpful but, I suppose, better than them going to TA to say it.

Most guests wrote the review in their email. They did not put it online.

So, we switched to 1 + 2. Now we get a lot more buy-in for getting a newsletter from us. We have a FB 'poster' on the wall so guests know about our FB page.

I hadn't thought about putting the info in their confirmation email, but now I will. The links to extra info are in our email sig in any other correspondence we have with the guests.

fsconsult's picture
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03/19/2012

 Some of the comments you'll receive if you ask for some feedback will be items that weren't necessarily "deal breakers" for them while they were staying with you. Not something major enough to complain about, but worth mentioning in a subtle way without blowing things out of proportion. You do have to take the negative comments with a grain of salt, because some people just love to complain about everything imaginable, especially if other things didn't go their way prior to arrival (flight was delayed, lost luggage, car problems). 

Having a good email signature is important like having a good header for a webpage - people will look there, so make sure there is something more than your name and the business name there. Depending on your email service, you may want to look at WiseStamp to make your signature more attractive.

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