Many chain and boutique hotels have concierges who serve as troubleshooters for guests, offering advice, tips, and suggestions. But the independently owned 98-room Galley Bay Resort in Antigua has turned every employee into a concierge or ambassador for the hotel. The staff has been trained to go out of their way to encourage guests to return.
Attracting new guests requires a major injection of marketing dollars but appealing to existing customers can spark revenue and reduce costs. Most general managers and hotel owners, particularly in the Caribbean and other resort areas, expect that location, good food, and friendly staff will spark return visits. Often that’s not enough.
Galley Bay’s staff is trained to offer personalized service and address each guest’s needs, which promotes return visits. When Darron Mason, an IT consultant based in Alexandria, Va., and his wife Rebecca returned to Galley Bay a year after honeymooning there, they were unexpectedly invited to a special dinner for repeat guests at its gourmet eatery. It made Mason and his wife feel special and encouraged them to consider vacationing there yet again.
“As with any business, retaining clients comes at a lesser financial expense than attracting new ones,” explains Galley Bay General Manager Paolo Rovoletto. Training employees to connect with guests is one way to lure and encourage repeat guests. When guests are vacationing at the resort, the entire staff—concierges, managers, and wait staff—are trained to provide a level of personalized service that creates a relationship between employee and guest.
For example, Rovoletto says that repeat guests are identified to staff. “Hence staff can welcome them and recognize them for returning,” he says. It makes each guest feel special, which is one key strategy to boosting return business, he suggests.
“Creating repeat business begins the moment a guest checks in,” Rovoletto says. Creating a personalized level of service includes remembering guests’ names, a specific way they prefer their cocktail, or fulfilling certain housekeeping duties. He says that its service style “combines the benefits of a boutique resort experience with the benefits of an all-inclusive vacation.” Repeat guests also receive a bottle of sparkling wine in their rooms and invitation to a special dinner hosted by the general manager and executive chef.