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Guest Relations Marketing was featured today on Inside CRM, an industry leader in research and education for marketing and sales professionals, in their article How Recession-Proof is CRM?

The article focuses on the current state of the economy, marketing budgets being cut, and how CRM may or may not be a viable marketing solution for some brands.  We believe that CRM is an important part of the marketing puzzle, in today’s economy and on-going.  Knowing your customers, your guests, is essential.

Click here to read the full story and our thoughts on CRM and how Zealots are essential for your brand, good times or bad.

In celebration of Valentines Day, a special note today to remember to “love thy customers.”  Like any relationship, this is one you should continue to nurture from beginning to end. Remember them, appreciate them and continue to let them know how much they mean to you and your business.

A special thanks to Mike at The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur for featuring Guest Relations Marketing in his post today “23 Ways How to Show a Customer You Love Them.”  We came in at #11 with the following tip …

11. You Can Show Love Every Time You Speak With Your Customer

Show Your Customer Some Love: It is as simple as knowing who your first time customers (”give us a try”) are versus your returning customers (”great to see you again Mike”).  Just remembering the stage of your relationship and having a personal context works wonders.

Click to view the other 22 ways you can show your customer love – and be sure to vote for us by leaving a comment for #11! What are other tips you have for showing your customers love?

Do you have “customers” for your brand? Most people (hopefully) will answer yes to this question. But a larger question still remains. Do you have “guests” of your brand?

What is the difference you may ask? Let’s take a look at the definitions for both.

A customer can be defined as:

1. a person who purchases goods or services from another.

2. a person one has to deal with.

A guest can be defined as:

1. a person who spends some time at another person’s home.

2. a person who receives hospitality.

3. a person who patronizes.

The verbiage clearly speaks for itself. Certainly we all have (and need) customers of our brand. Those that simply purchase goods or services; they’re in, they’re out.

But do we all have guests of our brand? Those who are patrons of our brands? A guest is welcomed, a guest is known, a guest is invited into your brand.

Simply having your employees think of your “customers” as “guests” could potentially make a huge impact on your service. Communicating to your customers as guests – from the methods & marketing channels you select, to the words you use – could take your relationship to a whole new level, as well as your business.

You will find those “customers” you treat as “guests” are far more likely to be the ones who are Zealots for your brand.  Amazing how a simple change in wording can lead to a complete mindshift for a brand.

Communicating to the customers in your database is important for your brand. Communicating poorly to your database is a brands’ worst nightmare.

Consider taking another look at your database fields and ways in which you can improve and tailor your communications to make the Zealots for your brand feel recognized and appreciated for their continued support and business with you.

Think how effective a little database tweak could be in these situations …

  • Direct mail addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe” when your best customer (Mrs. Doe) isn’t even mentioned by name.
  • “Come check us out” messaging when your best customer is already a frequent guest of your business.
  • Special offer for new customers only, but no offer for your best customer who is your biggest supporter.

Does your database allow you to communicate properly to your best customers, or Zealots, for your brand?

We first highlighted addressing a down market last fall.  The study (highlighted below) from PKF Hospitality Research continues to confirm.

Now, reality has hit.   But, with the perception being the market is going to be slow for awhile, we anticipate consumers will be back to traveling. Time will be more important and value will be critical as they make fewer trips.   But, don’t mistake value for discounting.  Low rates will abound. Will more complete experiences?

We are suggesting less overall marketing dollars be spent toward new guest acquisition and more focus aligned on bringing back past guests – and their friends.  They already have an understanding of the value your property offers.

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PKF Hospitality Research published a study Monday that predicts hotel loan defaults, bankruptcies and foreclosures will rise in 2009, bringing one of the worst years on record for the hotel industry.

PKF Hospitality Research found the number of full service U.S. hotels that don’t have the cash flow needed to pay their debt will jump 25 percent in 2009, and property values will likely decrease another 20.1 percent. This follows a 14.1 percent decline in property values in 2008.

The firm also projects the average U.S. hotel will face a 9.8 percent drop in revenue from the rental of guest rooms (RevPAR), a key financial measure for the industry. RevPAR dipped 1.8 percent in 2008.

“The drop in RevPAR for 2009 will be the fourth-largest annual decline in this important measure since 1930,” said R. Mark Woodworth, president of PKF-HR, in a news release. “Further, PKF-HR is forecasting that the nation’s hotels will not experience a year-over-year quarterly increase in RevPAR until the third quarter of 2010.”

The projected eight consecutive quarters of declining RevPAR, beginning with the third-quarter 2008 decline of 1.1, marks the longest stretch of falling revenues endured by U.S. hotels since the firm began tracking performance data more than 20 years ago.

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