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Do You Really Know Your Customer?

As the hotel industry get's going again, Stephen Minall shares his thoughts on knowing your true customer and how to engage.


How well do you know your customers?

Are you focussing your energy on the ones that can add the most to your business?

Now could be the time to go ‘old-school’ with your marketing.

Let us imagine you have a rather successful hotel business. This is pretty tough given the hit that the industry has taken - but bear with me. You have 2,000 customers. You were smart enough to hold data information on this 2000, with e-mail addresses, some local home addresses, and maybe even their mobile numbers. This information is often collected over a few years and could be a little out of date of course – but it’s still useful!

In the past, you may have marketed to all 2,000 customers in a similar fashion, sending the same repetitive sales materials, with similar information, to all of these customers, several times a year. Things were good, but as the owner of the business you know you could do better.

Unfortunately, your customer records are not detailed enough to tell you what they purchased, when they purchased it, whether they male or female, with you for business or pleasure. You decide to look in detail & run an analysis of the customer base. The analysis reported that of the 2,000 customers – 1800 of these customers purchased a minimal amount of products and services in your hotel (day visits or overnight visits included). In other words, 200 customers were keeping this business in the black. This is so often the case in the real world of statistics, thus 10% of your customers are the source of your profits and cash flow.

Up to this point, your business had treated those 200 customers like the other 1800.

When you realise the dis-service you had been giving those 200 customers, who really made the business successful, could you do something drastic to address those on this “hot list”?

You could refocus on how you improve in service, better loyalty rewards and “spoiling & pampering” campaigns to target those ‘Golden 200’. Pay closer attention on the food & drink items they bought, who they brought in with them, size of the “cheque”, how close they live and the reason for their visit. Ask them specific questions, invite them to join the ‘Gold Club’. This can be a simple as giving a free breakfast, or maybe some wine in the room. In short, your hotel should address the life-style and needs of this strong and important 200. Your ‘Golden 200’ will tell their friends and become your best marketing voice. Let them be your primary focus.

Don’t forget about the 1800 though. Research has shown that up to a third (600) of those original customers could grow your total sales by circa 33% if you apply similar techniques to get them to visit you more often. The real key to a marketing success is moving those 600 towards the ‘Golden 200’ list!

So next time you spot a customer in your bar or restaurant drinking a coffee, you will of course give them the very best of hospitality. Take a good look though – are they in your ‘Golden 200’ and if not, how do you get them there?


Stephen Minall is an expert in business marketing and F&B concepts.

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