Customer loyalty – the ultimate guide for leisure businesses

Leisure industry april 15, 2022
customer loyalty

You probably already knew that returning customers are valuable because they are a recurring source of income that require less effort than acquiring new customers. But did you know that returning customers spend more money at your venue than one-time customers? 

According to our data, 11% of bookings are made by returning guests but make up 23% of revenue. 

The above statistics show the importance of a successful customer loyalty strategy. In this guide, you’ll discover all the ins and outs of customer loyalty.

Let’s kick things off by characterizing customer loyalty.

What is customer loyalty?

Customer loyalty is an ongoing positive relationship between you and your visitors, expressed through the visitor’s willingness to repeatedly engage with and visit you instead of your competitors. This is typically a byproduct of a positive experience at your venue.

Why is customer loyalty important?

Loyal customers can help grow your business faster and more easily than you could through marketing efforts. Not to mention that it takes less effort to keep a visitor than to acquire a new one. These are the main benefits:

  • Augmented wallet share – guests spend money at your venue instead of at your competitors’ centers
  • Great word of mouth advertising – visitors tell their friends and family about their experience at your venue
  • Increased trust – Guests choose to return to your venue and maintain your relationship
  • A higher average order value – Returning customers typically spend more

Types of loyal customers

Guests can be loyal to your business for many reasons. Here are some types of loyal customers.

  • Satisfied guests – these guests genuinely like your venue and activities and regularly come back
  • Low-price loyals – these guests come to your venue because you offer the best price for the activities they like
  • Convenience guests – some returning guests come back because it’s convenient for them, for example if your venue is located close to them
  • Loyalty program guests – for some guests good discounts and freebies through loyalty programs are motivators to return to your venue
  • Genuinely loyal guests – these guests will advocate for your venue and are truly your biggest fans

9 ways to encourage customer loyalty

Customer loyalty is the result of constant effort and a long term dedication. It’s not something you can build in a day and automate. The qualities people generally value in personal relationships, such as consistency and honesty, are also the qualities guests look for in their relationship with you. A key step in gaining customer loyalty is doing your homework. Understand your guests and make a connection with them.

When looking at the complete guest experience, these are strategies to build customer loyalty.

1. Provide excellent customer service and communication

2. Ask for feedback and respond to reviews

3. Understand the customer journey

4. Make it personal and know your customer

5. Minimize effort

6. Create an emotional connection

7. Show appreciation

8. Speak your guests’ language

9. Use customer loyalty programs

1. Provide excellent customer service and communication

Guests may love your venue and your activities, but they won’t return if they don’t feel appreciated. Guests value friendly service when they visit you. When it comes to customer service, proactiveness is key. This means anticipating your guests’ needs and solving problems before they even occur. Invest in a well-trained team that goes above and beyond for your guests.

While excellent customer service builds on positive contact, it doesn’t mean that every interaction has to be perfect. Guests can stand a few negative ones, although too many will break the relationship they have with your venue. It’s mostly about the way you handle eventual problems and receive feedback. 

In fact, did you know that customers tend to be more loyal when they had a bad experience, but the business solved it, than when they never had a problem? That’s because by solving a problem, your business creates a trust bond with a guest. If guests feel listened to and looked after when something is wrong, increased guest satisfaction will follow.

2. Ask for feedback and respond to reviews

Authentic testimonials from your guests are important, because they can win over potential visitors who may turn into long-term visitors or even advocates of your venue. An easy way to start is by collecting Google reviews and displaying these on your website and webshop.

Once you start receiving reviews, you’ll probably get both positive and negative feedback from guests. Make sure to always respond to reviews, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative. By doing so you demonstrate that you’re paying attention to what guests think about you and value your guests’ opinion. This interaction helps create a personal bond with your guests and increase the likelihood of them turning into loyal customers.

3. Understand the customer journey

As a leisure business, you’d usually measure your success in terms of bookings. But when taking a more in-depth look at your overall guest experience, you can see that each booking is part of a bigger picture –  your customer journey.

The customer journey includes your entire online and offline experience. It starts from the moment visitors click on your website and webshop, or when they read reviews about your venue. It doesn’t end once guests leave your venue, as you get the chance to stay in touch with your guests through emails or texts.

These different touchpoints that make up the customer journey influence customer loyalty. By considering your customer journey altogether, you can see which parts need improvements. For example, look into a smart online booking system and scheduler to make your booking flow effortless.

4. Make it person and know your customer

Guests are often willing to share data to receive personal experiences. Start collecting customer data, for example using analytical tools such as Google Analytics, and learn about your guests. With knowledge about your guests and their likings you can make personalized recommendations, create unique multi-activity deals and offer relevant upsells and cross-sells. Personalized experiences make your guests feel special and help build up the feeling of trust that results in customer loyalty.

Not sure what your guests like? Download our free ebook to learn more about how to read your data and identify opportunities for improvement.

5. Minimize effort

You can reduce effort by providing a customer journey that is easy to understand and navigate through. A convenient experience makes it more likely a guest will return to your venue.  

For a seamless customer journey it’s important to be available for your guests. Make sure they can easily reach out to you if they want to. Add a phone number, email address or chat function on your website. Avoid long waits, on your website as well as at your venue. A website and webshop that is available 24/7 and fully responsive is also indispensable. You wouldn’t want to miss out on customers because they can’t book you outside of business hours or access your webshop on their mobile phone.

6. Create an emotional connection

The best way to connect with your guests is to recognize and respect their needs at all levels of the customer journey. Identify the customers that present the most opportunity for a lasting relationship. Use emotional data to create a connection with these guests on a deeper level and understand their likings, attitude and needs. There are many channels that allow you to interact with guests on a personal level, such as texting or social media. Offering these services helps create the emotional connection needed for customer loyalty.

7. Show appreciation

A simple “thank you” goes a long way. Remind your guests that there’s a grateful business owner on the other side of their screen that values their support. You can thank your guests for booking your venue in the confirmation email you send them, during their visit or with an email after their visit in which you can ask for feedback as well. 

8. Speak your guests’ language 

Speaking your guests’ language can mean 2 things, both of which are key to take into account. 

First, try to speak the native language of your guests. Guests prefer to speak their own language at your venue with your employees, but also like to be addressed in this language in emails, texts or on the phone with you.

The second way in which you should speak your guests’ language refers to your tone. Now, we don’t recommend you start using slang, but rather that you speak in a way that is relatable for your guests. Listen to your guests and how they talk about the different activities at your venue and get a sense of their tone. Incorporate this language into your customer service scripts, website and webshop. 

9. Use customer loyalty programs

Customer loyalty programs are great to increase customer retention. They offer additional benefits such as discounts or gifts after guests reach a certain threshold, like visiting your venue 10 times. This strategy stimulates guests to return to your venue.

When setting up a customer loyalty program, choose benefits that attract your target customers. You can for example give rewards for a certain amount of money that they spent, how often they visit you or how many people they refer your venue to. Here are some ways to set up customer loyalty programs for your venue:

  • Point based program – guests collect points for each visit and can exchange these points for benefits.
  • Paid VIP program – guests pay a one time fee to bypass returning costs at your venue
  • Game based program – guests return to your venue for games and tournaments

How to measure customer loyalty?

As with any project, you want to find a way to measure your success. Customer loyalty programs aim to improve your guests’ satisfaction and retention – and these factors can be measured.

Measure customer retention

Customer retention refers to how long your guests stay with you and return to you. Successful customer loyalty initiatives will grow the number of returning customers. To determine the effectiveness of your customer loyalty projects, run an A/B test against guests that took part in your customer loyalty program and guests that didn’t. 

Measure your guest satisfaction

Your Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a way of measuring customer satisfaction. It indicates on a scale of 1-10 how likely your guests are to recommend your venue to their friends and family. You can send out questionnaires in emails to collect this data. To calculate your venue’s NPS, simply subtract the percentage of guests who would not recommend your venue from the percentage of guests who would.

Briq’s bonus tip: pay attention to referral traffic to your website

Check how many of your website visitors come from other places than search engines such as Google. Referral traffic can come from social media and other websites. You want to know how many people refer to your venue on their website or mention you on social media. You can easily measure the amount of traffic coming from referrals via Google Analytics.

Customer loyalty programs – 3 great examples

Amazon prime

The amazon prime membership is a notable customer loyalty program. In exchange for a yearly fee, customers get free two-day shipping and streaming via Prime Video. This program has been very successful for Amazon. Research has found that Prime members spend almost double the amount on Amazon each year compared to non-members.

Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks started a program in which customers download the Starbucks app and add money to their account to pay for their Starbucks orders. For each purchase, they earn stars. The app notifies customers for special offers to win extra stars, such as double-star days when they can earn double the amount of stars they usually would or birthday coupons. Customers can use the collected stars for free beverages and food.

United MileagePlus Program

United’s MileagePlus Programs lets customers earn points on daily purchases. Customers can use these points to pay for flights, hotels, rental cars and more. Frequent flyers can become a Premier member and receive a MileagePlus card to collect more points and get more benefits such as upgraded seating or free checked baggage.

Boost your customer retention with Briq 

Your webshop and website are incredibly important when it comes to providing your guests a great experience. With Briq’s booking system, you make your booking process seamless and convenient for your guests, so that they rebook your venue.

How? By being bookable 24/7, from any device. You also get to sell multi-activity bookings that include upsells and cross-sells. Guests can fully customize their booking in just a few clicks. The best part is that this all happens automatically with Briq’s smart booking scheduler.

Let’s talk about how Briq can work for you! Get in touch with us.

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