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Emotional engagement: Best Western provides cleaned spare blankets & pillows in a new "wrap," reassuring each guest of cleanliness. Photo/BW
NEW YORK — Best Western and Days Inn are the top brands for customer loyalty in their respective hotel categories. The Best Western brand is ranked number one by consumers for midscale hotels and Days Inn is ranked number one for economy hotels.
David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International, explains to Blue MauMau readers what his brand does to rise above the competition when it comes to customer loyalty.
Many brands have aggressively launched product and amenity requirements in the past few years. We are of the opinion that while the product experience is important, it is not differentiating because it is easily copied. Instead, Best Western has established its vision to lead the industry in superior customer care. This vision leverages the key asset of Best Western – its people – as the differentiator.
Every brand would say guest satisfaction is important. I submit to you that it is no longer enough to achieve satisfaction. Just think about all the competition in the marketplace and how many of them have also achieved guest satisfaction. Guest satisfaction is the price of entry. We must endeavor to achieve guest loyalty. We must rethink customer service.
Just reflect on how infrequently we encounter special and memorable service in this Internet Age and you will see why customer care is so important. There is a void. People don't feel connected to many brands. The reason is many companies stress customer service, but a robotic and scripted greeting does not make much of an impression. Genuine and sincere care from the heart is what resonates and connects emotionally. That is why Best Western formulated its vision and strategy to provide superior customer care to achieve guest loyalty.
Our new "Stay with people who care" advertising campaign, which launched recently, is a celebration of our vision statement, brought to life by our hoteliers. They are real people who care deeply about their guests, their businesses and their communities. We want consumers to know hospitality at Best Western is more than a comfortable room. It's embodied in who we are.
The 2013 annual ranking of brands with the highest loyalty was released by market researcher Brand Keys this month. Some 400 brands in 54 categories were measured by 39,000 American consumers from 18 to 65 in its 17th annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index.
Here are the top hotel brands when it comes to customer loyalty.
What is unusual about Best Western is that the chain's 4,000 hotel owners tell the brand and its executives what to do through voting and a representative form of governance. Essentially, the brand's best in class loyalty is not just a product of their licensees executing properly but also of their strategic vision and direction for Best Western International.
Why does being on top of this list matter?
Investors who purchase franchised hotel properties want to make sure that they have the most bang for the buck when it comes to a brand. After all that they can do, they want a brand that can bring in loyal and repeat customers for the dollars that they pay in the form of royalties and ad funds each month to be part of a chain.
Why pay for a brand that falls flat with consumers and does little to bring guests in the door?
"The brand whose drivers come closest to meeting or even exceeding those of the category ideal is always the one whose customers will demonstrate the highest levels of engagement and loyalty over the next 12 to 18 months," observes Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys.
Passikoff reminds marketing leaders to see if they are engaging consumers in the right emotional place. "If you know where that emotional engagement is in your category, you'll know not only how consumers will behave, but most importantly, you'll know what will get them to behave more positively toward your brand versus your competitors," declares Passikoff.