The secrets to securing guest loyalty


The secrets to securing guest loyalty

loyalty cards

Securing guest loyalty is an excellent way to win return business and guarantee longevity in this increasingly competitive industry. But are you going about it the right way? We conducted research into the matter to discover just what loyalty means to the modern guest and reveal the strategies that work best to secure it.

The good news is that even in this age of choice, the majority of our guests (70%) felt a sense of loyalty towards a favourite venue/business, though only 56% of guests felt loyal to chain restaurants compared to the 76% that felt loyal to independents. Perhaps guests feel that chain restaurants don't need their loyalty as much. After all, it's easier for an independent to reveal the human side to their establishment - something that chains might want to consider how they can best convey.

It was no surprise to see that the guest experience plays a key role in loyalty. While we would have expected guests might remain loyal to their favourite venues despite a below average experience, 27% said they would never go back. Even a significant proportion of the guests who consider themselves loyal (18.5%) agreed they would not return. It appears loyalty means different things to different guests.

As well as ensuring the guest experience delivers as promised each and every time, our research discovered that 80% of guests are likely or extremely likely to use loyalty cards and apps. A substantial 71% of respondents also believe that loyalty cards and apps encourage guests to return.

Social media can also prove an effective medium for encouraging repeat business. Previous research we've conducted revealed that 22% of guests use social channels to read through reviews and 13% scan for special offers. Additionally, 58% of guests felt they would be more inclined to visit if a restaurant interacted with them online. Encouraging happy guests to feed back their experience, ensuring social channels are kept up-to-date with enticing offers and responding to guests' comments with a consistent and personable brand voice can't hurt in the quest for guest loyalty.

Finally, when we asked our guests which factor would make them return after visiting a new restaurant opening, 65% unsurprisingly voted for great food. However, 13% of respondents rated discounts, loyalty cards or apps as the most important element. Perhaps operators should consider special discounts or offers for second visits?

Our research concludes that amongst the majority of guests, hospitality operators get one shot to impress with the experience they offer. It might be no great surprise that good food and excellent service come on top as being the key factors for repeat custom, but the influence of social media and discounts are not to be underestimated.

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