In the hospitality sector, delighting guests is the foundation for creating ongoing loyalty and recurring revenue from repeat visitors.

Many hospitality organizations invest heavily in creating and supporting their brand, though recent studies have shown that travelers are only nominally loyal to hotel or airline brands.

To counter this, there is a new movement in travel marketing where the guest is actually an integral part of the brand.   By considering the typical guest a brand steward – not to be confused with brand evangelists, who are typically the outliers — in the marketplace, hoteliers can achieve maximum return by having many voices and advocates for their services.

Brand stewards are the types of consumers who reside in the middle of the bell-shaped curve.  While they are not passionately advocating for a brand like the small handful of evangelists, collectively they have a stronger voice and can influence more potential guests.

Hospitality providers actually need to cultivate brand stewardship in guests.  Beyond the traditional loyalty programs, hoteliers can implement new methods for ensuring a completely Frictionless Guest Experience™ that will entice these new influencers to share their experience with others – whether face-to-face or in the social media sphere.

A foundation for creating brand stewards also lies in a new movement called Predictive Guest Marketing™ (PGM).  PGM looks not only at the persona, behaviors and experience ratings of the guest, but also takes into consideration the same data points gathered from guests with similar personas. It can also create an intelligent query for the guest’s persona that can be triggered on demand.

PGM starts by enticing the potential guest before they plan a trip by applying analytics and CRM technologies to better understand the needs they have in common with others and those which are unique to the guest and or their family.  It continues to anticipate and predict these needs through checkout and beyond.

In the highly competitive travel marketplace, creating brand loyalty in the right way can help create true differentiation.  Though, while many hoteliers are focusing on developing their own brands, perhaps it is time to make the guest the brand?  When you think about it, they hold the keys to the kingdom.