This blog looks at the best ways to communicate with your guests in the digital era.
It covers three key areas to give you food for thought:
- Making sure your website is working hard enough to best reflect the holiday experience that you are offering.
- Looking at pre-arrival communications with your guests to make sure you’re pitching to them just right.
- Understanding your clientele and building ongoing relationships using clever content to promote guest loyalty, referral and repeat business.
Your website: is it working hard enough for you?
Glampers want to live and breathe the great outdoors while moving beyond traditional camping and trying something different to the good old self-catering cottage. As such, they are expecting a VIP service, so the images and content on your website should reflect that. Getting your business online is one of the best things you can do to reach new and potential customers. But there’s an art to getting it right. Having a clear website and further information ready to fire out to them is absolutely key. There are some basic steps to help you make your website memorable and engaging.
Strong and clear message
Your website is your best chance to make a lasting impression to your customers. They will need to get the very essence of your holiday offering from the moment they land on your homepage. They want to see top quality, attractive photography and clear, honest information about what kind of holiday experience they will get. Addressing this will dramatically reduce turnaways from potential guests and therefore any loss of precious revenue. Many websites online fail to communicate the essence of their business to customers on their homepage and lose valuable leads and sales as a result. Make it count.
Responsiveness and connectivity
Holidaymakers now expect to be able to browse a holiday on a responsive website from their mobile or tablet. They also expect to be able to book their holiday online there and then through a clear, responsive booking engine. No-one has the patience for paper booking forms and cheques anymore! This is so important. Responsiveness doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg either. Depending on your budget, you can either go to your local web design agency, or use a simple website builder and do it yourself. Check out this website builder comparison site, it’s a great tool to work out which one is best for you: http://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/.
Keep the navigation around your website easy, really easy! Put yourselves in your visitors’ shoes and imagine what you would want to find out before you make a choice. Include well-structured pages and clearly labelled tabs that intuitively lead visitors to relevant sections of your website. The moment you start to add pages in lots of sub headings, the customer is going to head off to the next website. The customer journey is very important, if you make them feel cared for, wanted and welcomed from the beginning you are more likely to be making that sale.
Content is king
Your website must convey relevant content to your visitors about your accommodation and site, but also things to do and what’s going around you, where you fit in the world. Your content is the single most important element in increasing customers. SEO (search engine optimization) plays a huge part in people finding you online. You’ll want to include keywords that are relevant to your business and industry in your page titles, meta tags, headings and in your website’s content. If you’re not a good content writer, it’s important to find one, you’ll thank them for what they can do for you. Don’t forget to also include beautiful, professional photos of your site and give them alt tags.
If you haven’t already, make sure you have Google Analytics tracking on your website. This is a sure way of knowing your pages are being read, how long visitors to your site are browsing for and which are your most popular pages. Another cool tool is https://www.crazyegg.com/.
Build a community
Your business will benefit if you build a community, so visitors feel they have the chance to become part of your gang. Start with the obvious networks you know and are active on – the most common being Facebook and Twitter. Include Facebook “Like” from your business Facebook page or a Twitter follow button will allow visitors to connect with you through other media. It’s also wise to create and maintain a blog as a way of talking directly to your fans, developing the level of trust and to increase content. The use of reviews and testimonials also increases your desirability.
Essential information pages you will need on your website
About Us: Don’t be shy! Who are you? Where do you come from? What makes you tick? What are your hopes and dreams? Making your guests feel something will influence their decision to stay with you.
The Accommodation: Make this visual as well as providing a list of what’s included. If you have a structured building, try and get a floor plan as well as high quality images. If there’s something quirky about it, point it out. It isn’t enough to say it’s a bell tent or pod. Why will they love it? Show them some great photography and content.
The Experience: The customer is looking for something a little different. Be creative, but be real. Tell them more about yourselves, the local area, the farm on which they’re staying, the people involved, the animals they might find there. Will they be feeding goats called Greta and Bob before breakfast? Bring your story to life.
Location: This is a little more than just your address details. Are you in the middle of a farm, are you 20 miles from the nearest shop? As well as being really informative, this helps on the SEO front. A little pin on a map and your full address is super helpful!
FAQs: Glamping is great. You can rock up with little ‘stuff’ and relax. Give your guest a list of FAQs so they know what to expect on your site. Tell your customer what’s including in their stay, what they do and don’t need to bring. We went glamping last year, it was a fantastic place, everything was provided, kitchen utensils, bed linen, tea and coffee. But no toilet roll!
Availability and Pricing: Always display your availability and pricing on your website. If you provide this information via your booking management system it will be delivered in real time and the customer will have the opportunity to book there and then, that pitch, for that price. No disappointment.
Book Now : Implement a Book Now button, a super quick way to let the customer react to your offering. You can attach this to your booking system by a simple web address straight to the booking form. Easily added to most social media channels too!
Contact: Even today, there are still plenty of people who would prefer to call you to make a booking. Make your telephone number easy to find!
Pre-arrival communication sets expectations and improves the guest experience
The guest experience has already started, they have found you online and made a booking. Now don’t disappoint. It’s really important to keep up that momentum of communication.
Acknowledge their booking, thank them, say you’re looking forward to seeing them. Confirm dates and times. Make yourself available for further questions. You won’t regret going the extra mile. A good PMS (property management system) or online booking system [such as Anytime!] will take the pain out of regular communications and automate the process for you once you have set up the template communications you want to fire out.
Be helpful. Again, put yourself in the shoes of your guests. What they should bring? What do you provide on site? Remind them of some of your facilities, your farm shop hours, how to check-in.
Make sure that you personalise the pre-arrival communications that you send out. The right information at the right time, empowers your guests and helps them prepare for their stay. This timely communication staves off any fears, simplifies the pre-arrival process, and improves the holiday experience. You’ll benefit by decreasing no-shows and increasing engagement and satisfaction.
Setting the tone
- Keep it cool and choose words carefully
- Choose appropriate greetings and closing
- Write in an active voice
- Order the information
- Stylised fonts, capitals and bold
Supporting articles on setting the tone…
Understanding and communicating with your guests to build relationships and loyalty
Less transactional, more personal
In order to build relationships and create memorable stays for your customers, you must move beyond thinking of customer service as a transactional thing. It’s so important to personalise your customer service. Transactional customer service can be friendly and welcoming, but it’s worth going that bit further to try to gain a personal or emotional connection with your customers. This is what ultimately builds loyalty. Personalised customer service shows your guests that you recognise them, that you are listening to them, understanding them and that you care about them.
When you physically see your guests, be genuine, be nice, smile, put them first. Stop chatting to your colleague or typing or sharpening your pencils! First impressions really do matter.
Think outside of the box to treat your best customers
Give your loyal customers plenty of reasons to stay with you and no reasons to leave. Push your business to continually find ways to make your customers’ holidays better. Look after your best customers, and they will tell everyone about you. Put a hand-written note in their accommodation, randomly surprise them with an upgrade or a bottle of champagne in their welcome pack. It’s okay to think outside of the box and do things like this. Glampers are a discerning crowd and will shout from the roof-tops if they feel spoilt by you.
In an era when a tweet or a bad tripadvisor review can tarnish your brand and sales, you have to focus more on the customer experience. Wowing the customer will bring you brand loyalty and word of mouth referrals, without doubt. By treating your customers well, you will be amazed at how willing they are to support your business.
Have virtual conversations with your customer base
Give your customers the chance to opt in to receiving communications from you. Look at segmenting your customer base and offering them something, a discount to something, or information that relates specifically to them. Families, walkers, cyclists, pet-lovers, first-time campers, you can engage with them on a more individual level with tailored content. The more it comes across as a conversation the better.
Use social media too – on your Facebook or Twitter page, post updates no matter how big or small or anecdotal — this will make your customers feel like they know you. They will have a behind-the-scenes look into your world and you will make them feel something. Feeling is influencing.
Reward repeat customers – it’s a no brainer. Keep thanking them for coming back. And remember to say thank you in some way to guests who refer their friends’ business on to you too!
If you like what you hear from your guests, ask them if it’s okay to share that snippet with your other visitors, if it’s okay to give them 5 seconds of fame on Twitter or Facebook. If you are engaging, warm, and full of good humour, you’ll be amazed at how forthcoming your visitors become with the things they like about you! Feed the fan base and grow that feeling of community.
We hope you find the tips in this blog helpful. If you have any questions, please come back to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.