21 May Top Tips for Small Hotels Posted at 03:20h in Services Marketing, Strategy by Danielle Spinks-Earl Share Creating Memorable Experiences is the Key to B&B Customer Referral Gorgeous country villages like Marysville in Victoria have always appealed to holidaymakers. While many visit for a rejuvenating weekend getaway, most also recognise that their tourist dollar contributes to the Black Saturday recovery of these towns. “People love these towns, but they also want to help. Providing exceptional customer experiences, particularly for guest accommodation such as bed and breakfasts, is an opportunity to get visitors to become ambassadors for the area and the services here,” says Danielle Spinks, services marketing consultant at MVMM. Power of Recommendations “The recommendation of someone who has already experienced your service is worth much more than paid advertising. With social media like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, word-of-mouse is now the norm. There is real opportunity for small providers to leverage this world of conversation — by creating exceptional experiences that delight your customers and give them bragging rights,” says Danielle. Minimising Perceptions of Risk “Staying at a B&B is a very personal experience. From a customer perspective, there is also a high degree of risk. If you stay at a brand name hotel, for example, you know what you’re going to get because the experience is all very standardised,” says Danielle. “It’s much harder to assess the quality of an experience with a B&B so the customer really looks for clues that will help them. They don’t just look at the quality of soap, towels, linen and so on. All physical material sends a signal to the customer about service quality. That includes business cards, brochures, menus, instructions and signage.” Importance of Physical Evidence Graphic designer and print broker Leisa Dent from Alexandra Design works with many hospitality organisations to achieve quality printed materials. “The quality of the materials needs to reflect the quality of the service you want to provide. For example, if you offer a gourmet breakfast but the menu in the room is printed on tatty bond paper covered with coffee stains, guests are going to wonder whether the breakfast will be any good. It’s the little details that count.” Alexandra Design has created a number of custom branded items for three to five-star hotels around Australia and now smaller guest accommodation businesses. “There are many ways you can make the guest feel welcome and looked after. It could be beautiful drink coasters with local wildlife or landmarks, a thoughtful welcome card, even a hand-drawn map of local walks and activities can add so much to their stay,” says Leisa who provides different stocks and finishes for different clients. Danielle Spinks agrees that design and the small details are a worthwhile investment. “It doesn’t matter what type of customer experience you want to create. It could be relaxed, exciting, creative, quirky, all of the tangible touchpoints should seek to reinforce that experience. Each of the elements adds to the guest’s sense that they are receiving value.” What things have you done to ensure positive word of mouth since the ‘crisis’? Image courtesy of Small Hotels Dublin Danielle Spinks-Earl firstname.lastname@example.org BA Comm. M Mktg. Freelance writer, designer, marketing communications manager.