What Facebook says about Millennials and hotel brand loyalty

Despite popular assumption, it turns out that brand loyalty is alive and kicking. A recent survey by Facebook IQ questioned 14,700 U.S. adults regarding loyalty in five verticals, including hotels. The results were surprising, revealing that consumers (including supposedly less-loyal millennials) are more likely to return to the same business than perhaps expected.

Overall, 77% of respondents said they frequently return to the same brands. Of these, 37% were “Repeat Purchasers” (those who make repeat purchasers but aren’t loyal to a company), while 40% were “Brand Loyalists” (those who make repeat purchases and are loyal to a company).

Based on Facebook’s five most significant discoveries, we’ve pulled together the most relevant insights for hotels, including our own marketing tips to build long-term customer relationships.

1) Service and trust are crucial to loyalty

The buying behavior of Repeat Purchasers is largely influenced by practical considerations, such as price and convenience. In contrast, Brand Loyalists remain loyal to a company for more emotional reasons linked to the overall experience. For hotels, service (23%) and trust (21%) came out as the two biggest factors that motivate this group to rebook with the same brand.

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Loyalty marketing tip
Great guest service is driven by an intimate understanding of a guest’s unique needs and preferences. This comes down to research, asking questions and delving into past booking data to deliver the best possible experience.

Leading up to a stay, ask guests if they have any specific requests or requirements. A business traveler might appreciate being offered a room in a quieter part of the hotel. Equally, surprising a honeymooning couple with Champagne and a free evening meal could create a lasting memory that gains their long-term loyalty.

Equally, nurturing existing relationships can be achieved by anticipating any requests made during a previous stay. Simply remembering a guest’s name and welcoming them back can also help develop a sense of brand affinity.

Post-stay, sending an email to thank guests for their custom and responding to online feedback also demonstrates great customer service while opening up opportunities for ongoing communication.

2) Millennial loyalty is hindered by unique issues

Facebook IQ found that millennials were 1.75x more likely than baby boomers to state they wanted to be brand-loyal. But interestingly, it seems millennial loyalty is hindered by a unique set of issues.

Millennials are twice as likely as boomers to state that contacting or reaching a hotel is the biggest barrier for their continued loyalty. As a generation that is used to communicating at speed, it’s natural that problems contacting a hotel will be met with particular frustration.

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Loyalty marketing tip
To prevent communication frustrations, hotels must leverage the technology that millennials are engaging with. As a generation that frequently relies on mobile to conduct research, a mobile-friendly website with clear contact details is crucial. Offering Click to Call also provides a faster way for mobile users to call and book hotel rooms while on the move.

More frequently, hotels are also using SMS and messaging apps to offer guests additional ways to get in touch. The rapid one-to-one nature of messaging is an effective way hotels can overcome communication issues with millennials, providing them with a familiar platform to book rooms and make requests before and during a stay

3) Experience matters more than cost

Increased household income seems to increase loyalty. According to the Facebook IQ survey, households with an income of $150,000 or above were 32% more likely to be loyal than households bringing in less than $35,000. But regardless of income, the brands that were most loved were those that offered customers a great experience.

Given that travel is especially experiential in nature, providing customers with memorable moments can potentially override their desire to stick rigidly to a budget.

Loyalty marketing tip
Increasingly, travelers across all demographics are looking for unique and authentic experiences during their vacation. Often, this involves a desire to explore the destination they’re visiting, which is why hotels should position themselves as an invaluable resource to help plug into the local scene.

This could involve producing an “insider’s guide” featuring tips on the local dining scene, must-see cultural attractions, or off-the-beaten path experiences. Used within email marketing campaigns, this kind of content can help sell the destination as well as the hotel.

You could also partner with businesses in your area to run trips or tours in the surrounding neighborhood. By hosting unique and memorable experiences aligned to the interests of your demographic, you’ll begin to nurture loyalty among a wide segment of your customer base.

4) New parents are more brand loyal

Facebook IQ also found that parents make more considered brand choices, relying on social media and mobile to make informed decisions. After making a final decision, new parents are then especially loyal to the brands they’ve selected.

In fact, 42% of new parents describe themselves as being loyal compared with 36% of non-parents. Increased loyalty among new parents was also found to be especially pronounced in experiential-based verticals, including hotels.

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Loyalty marketing tip
When traveling with a newborn, parents will naturally be carefully reviewing hotels for their child-friendly credentials. So make sure this kind of information is easy to find. Promote family facilities on your hotel website, mention the fact you provide cribs in rooms, or that you have a babysitting service available.

Also, ensure you market your property as family-friendly on TripAdvisor, and encourage parents to share online reviews: these will prove hugely influential to other parents specifically seeking recommendations from like-minded travelers.

As newborns become toddlers, be sure to move with the changing needs of your guests. This could involve sending out segmented emails with enticing offers such as “kids eat free” deals at your restaurant, or offering discounts at theme parks, family shows, and other relevant attractions in your destination.

5) High social media use linked to loyalty

The Facebook IQ study also found that frequent social media use indicates increased brand loyalty. Facebook users that visit the platform over five times per day are 1.25x more likely to be brand loyal than those who use Facebook at least once a month, and the results are similar for Instagram.

Loyalty marketing tip
Social media plays a huge part in the travel research process, providing an invaluable space to build brand loyalty. By answering queries, resolving issues, and engaging with conversations, hotels can earn trust and credibility in the most public forum possible.

Social media can also be used to gain loyalty by building upon existing relationships. According to research by Internet Marketing Inc, between 80-85% of Facebook users who Like a brand are past or present customers. These instances of engagement provide an opportunity to interact with guests and build rapport.

In contrast to traditional marketing, social media provides an incredibly low maintenance way to grow relationships. A simple Like, Retweet, or message of thanks to a guest comment takes no time at all, and yet it can feel altogether more authentic and natural than even the most personalized email.

Brand loyalty is alive and well

In the consumer age, brand loyalty is often regarded as belonging to a golden era when customers consistently went back to the same company without hesitation. Today, digital connectivity offers shoppers instant access to a world of endless choice and comparison, yet many return to the same brands when their most important needs are catered to.

In the end, gaining a customer for life remains grounded in staying true to old-fashioned values. For hotels, that means offering great service, building trust, and providing memorable experiences that incentivize guests to keep coming back time and again.

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