Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association, underlines the importance of maintaining standards through accreditation to help stand out from the crowd and secure your hotel repeat business.
During these pressured times, securing repeat trade from valued customers is one of the toughest challenges faced by hoteliers. While guests may have enjoyed their stay or experience at your hotel overall, a number of factors – from growing competition, to the fact that service at breakfast was slow – can lead to a reluctance to re-book.
Yet, if you can secure repeat bookings you are on your way to guaranteeing a stable future for your business and your staff, so it is evidently worth investing time and effort into achieving them. The good news is that while it may seem like a challenge to persuade guests to return, there are easy ways to improve the chances they are meeting expectations and maintaining standards.
When any guests decide to use your hotel, they will arrive with expectations. These may be their own, but often they will be determined by what you promise to offer at the point of booking. Therefore, upholding standards you’ve promised – both with facilities and service – is not only essential to meet guest expectations during a stay, but also if you want to see them again. For example, if you promise superior service and a member of staff is rude and unhelpful, or you’re a foodie destination but the coffee at breakfast is bad quality, you won’t meet expectations and the likelihood is they’ll book with the competition in the future.
One way to ensure that standards are both maintained and recognised by guests and the wider industry is by joining an accreditation scheme. The benefits are two-fold: enlisting an outside organisation to assess your business helps you achieve and maintain industry standards, while also giving customers an insight into what they can expect before they book.
For customers from certain sectors such as government agencies, where set criteria must be met by a venue, accreditation schemes are particularly useful. This is one reason why nine hotels in the UK-based hotel and leisure management company Legacy Hotels & Resorts recently became AIM accredited. They wanted to prove that they could offer industry-approved contracts and terms and conditions. AIM is the nationally recognised standard for hotels, venues and service providers in the meetings, conferences and events industry and was created to help give businesses a competitive edge while acting as an assurance to buyers of quality and professionalism.
Members are assessed against 50 strict criteria in areas such as quality of facilities, accessibility, customer service proposition and experience, and best practice, then awarded their accreditation depending on scores.
The AIM process even encourages continuous improvement through AIM Higher and can take a venue to the peak of service excellence at gold level, so businesses are not only encouraged to maintain standards, but also improve them.
Preparation for the assessment may be demanding, but our members, who also include the Accor Group, Laura Ashley Hotels and the Cairn Group, say the rewards are more than worth it. Through the scheme they also report a number of benefits to daily business, such as reduced staff turnover, an improvement on their bottom line, and that all-important regular repeat business.
Thanks to accreditation schemes guests booking now, and in the future, know that standards adhered to by their venues have been rigorously checked and will have to be maintained to secure future accreditation. If repeat bookings by way of high standards are important to your business, then having them accredited may well be one step on your way to success.