Everyone knows what a repeat guest is. The problem is that no one knows for certain when a guest does in fact become a repeat guest and takes on the royal status of being the "most valuable guest". When Does a Guest become a Repeat Guest? --- A question hoteliers don't want to know & don't have an answer.J The following questions are done in tongue in cheek fashion. Nevertheless, there is a serious message behind it: Most hotels do not have a clear definition of a repeat guest that can be quantitatively measured. Secondly, most hotels don't really know the precise value of a repeat guest. Because they don't have a clear idea about their repeat guests, performance measurement becomes a fuzzy science and highly targeted promotional messages will not be possible:
1. Is a repeat guest based on previous stays? If so, how "previous" is considered previous? I mean within 12 months? Two years? Since the beginning of the time?
2. If a transient guest comes back as a part of a tour group, is he a repeat guest?
3. Conversely, if a member of a tour group comes back as a transient guest, is he a repeat guest?
4. If a guest didn't intend to stay in the same hotel but somehow, he ended up in your hotel --- again --- is he a repeat guest?
5. If a guest's parents, siblings, friends or even friends' friends were your hotel guests, is he a repeat guest by association?
6. If a business guest stays in your hotel Thursday and Friday and at the last minute, he decides to stay for the weekend, so that he can take advantage of your tourist weekend special, is he a repeat guest?
7. If a guest makes a reservation for his second visit, do you count him as a repeat guest before he has actually repeated his visit, or do you wait until he has departed?
8. How do you know the individual who stands in front of you is a repeat guest? Do you ask your guest? Do you rely on your system to tell you?
9. If the guest tells you that he is a repeat guest but you can't find his name anywhere in your system. Do you trust your guest or do you trust your system?
10. If you trust your guest, why did you spend thousands of dollars setting up the system?
11. If you don't trust your guest, who do you trust?
12. Finally, is the value of all repeat guests the same? I mean what is the value of a three-time repeater in one year and a six-time repeater in two years?
If you have an answer to any of these questions, do send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to find out who has the best answers. The prize? Bragging rights for the rest of your career!
About Lily Lin
Lily Lin, MBA, Ph.D. is the Chief Editor of Dr. Lily Lin's Blog at I Work In Hotels. She has extensive experiences in marketing management, consulting and training. She has taught in American, German and Dutch universities. For more than 20 years, she was the designer and the senior lecturer of a number of courses at the Hotelschool the Hague, including Revenue Management, the first ever offered at the School. She conceived her latest project, "Interviewing Successful Hotel Managers Series", in which she interviews hotel managers from major international chain and independent hotels. Her interviews and other works are published regularly in her blog.