While these are daunting times, history shows that the hospitality industry is well positioned to come back from crisis.
The past has proven that the industry has a unique ability to recover from crisis. The food and drink industry were one of the first to fully recover after the Great Recession and during the recession of 2001, employment in the industry slowed but never decreased. The beauty of the hospitality industry, from large hotels to tiny corner cafés, is its creativity, and resourcefulness.
Most importantly, customer desire to enjoy restaurants, hotels and bars has not disappeared during the ups and downs of 2020. Research shows that over 70% of consumers plan to travel for leisure when they feel more comfortable, spending the same or more than they did previously. In the U.S., one of the pandemic’s worst affected countries, as of October 2020, 42% of U.S. adults are now more comfortable with dining out and 33% are more comfortable with going on holiday.
The pressure from the pandemic is driving discounts on menus and bookings. But at what cost?
Hyperion Hotel Basel, Switzerland
Many platforms and hospitality businesses are currently using discounts to motivate customers to come through their doors during this time. Tripadvisor’s The Fork has launched a scheme running from September 17th to November 17th, offering dinners discounts of up to 50% when booking through their platform. For a business to participate, they must be subscribed to one of The Fork’s paid packages and opt-in to the campaign. The restaurant absorbs the cost of the discount and are required to pay commission on every confirmed booking.
The problems with discount schemes are twofold. Firstly, the promotion becomes a promotion in name only; if all restaurants are offering similar deals, there is no differentiating factor between one business and the other. Secondly, while these schemes may inject life into a business in the short term, they do not lead to a real and sustained change in customer behaviour or lifestyle. They leave businesses footing the bill for discounts and putting them in a dangerous cycle of needing to keep offering discounts in order to fill seats.
It is understandable that businesses want to increase customer confidence and spending by offering discounts, however it is only a short-term solution.
The hospitality industry has always thrived on customer loyalty, why not harness it?
TWISPER connects businesses with the customers that love them. Our platform is centred around the proven power of digital word of mouth to increase revenue and customer base. On TWISPER your customers don’t rate you, they recommend you to their network of friends and followers. This creates a snowball effect of positivity opening up a new community of customers for your business. We have seen first-hand that loyal and happy customers are a business’s best advocates: according to a 2016 Nielson study, 67% of consumers are likely to make a purchase at a business recommended by their network on social media.
There has been a clear outpouring of support for the hospitality industry from customers worldwide. One only needs to look at the news from the past week, and you will see headlines such as “Best Practices to Support Hotel Industry During COVID" and “This is how BusinessLive readers can support hospitality businesses across England during lockdown.”
There have been many inspiring initiatives that customers have started or jumped on board with to help businesses across the sector. For example, the tip campaign in Glasgow to support employees in the industry, or the campaign run by coffee shop Ca Passe Crème and bistro Le Montriond in Lausanne, Switzerland for customers to help cover their rent during the first lockdown.
Davide Merola and Steeve Gerotto, Ca Passe Crème, Lausanne
Aware of the time that businesses are having to put in as they continuously need to update their online presence with new opening hours and restrictions, companies are offering free trials for practical solutions. For example, SO Connect are giving businesses free use of their listings tools, allowing them to update their details simultaneously across several platforms.
A campaign by QoQa in Switzerland and the #HelpdeHoreca campaign in the Netherlands both aimed to support hospitality businesses during this difficult period by asking customers to purchase vouchers that they can redeem as coupons when businesses opened again.
Customers want to help the businesses they love, but do not always know how.
Jana van Zyl and Emma Litkie, Street Kitchen Café, Lausanne
Emma Litkie of Street Kitchen Café in Lausanne spoke with TWISPER Business earlier this month. “Customers want to support us and think they’re helping by filling up tables with discounts, but they’re not. With limited tables and people coming in at 50%, in this climate, we need customers coming in and paying the full price.”
Customers want to know how they can really support businesses; they want transparency and openness.
With all this proven power of positive customer engagement, why sell yourself short? Tap into customer loyalty to support your business in ways that will help your bottom line.
Instead of relying too heavily on discounts to entice customers through your doors, maximize positive engagement and build on the goodwill of your customers. At TWISPER, we are all about empowering business owners to connect to and grow their loyal customer base through positive recommendations. Engaging your customers in your story and maintaining an interface with them even when you cannot see them in person is so important.
Small and simple actions go a long way. Why not ask your customers to purchase gift vouchers or coupons from your website? This gives you immediate cash flow while not disadvantaging either party. Simply asking your loyal customers to recommend you to their friends and followers on TWISPER connects you with a growing network of over 1.5 million users. The positive snowball effect of simple actions is never to be underestimated.
The message is clear. Loyal customers want to support and advocate for the businesses they love. Now is not the time to sacrifice long-term security for ineffective short-term discount initiatives. Focus on your loyal and happy customers and be empowered by their positivity.
TWISPER is on a mission to bring fairness and positivity back to the hospitality industry. Access our growing audience of 1.5 million users today and claim your business for free on TWISPER.
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