In a competitive world of hospitality, attracting and maintaining customers is critical for long-term success. Customers who are satisfied and loyal not only contribute to revenue but also function as brand champions, promoting positive word of mouth. A study by Torrens University Australia released in July reveals that loyal customers in the hospitality sector on average spend 67 per cent more than new customers. ALSO READ: Five skills that will help you excel in the hospitality and tourism industry Below, we look at five tricks to keep your customers satisfied and coming back for more. 1. Make them feel special Making your customers feel special is vital in any hospitality business. This can be achieved by providing customers with a tailored experience. A study by PWC, a global firm that manages brands, revealed that 60 per cent of customers stop doing business with a brand if the service isn't friendly. It is advised to collect relevant client data such as preferences, anniversaries, and special occasions and utilise them to personalise their visits. ALSO READ: The essence of customer service “Addressing guests by name, providing their preferred beverages, or surprising them with a personalised letter can leave a lasting impression and foster a sense of connection with your institution,” said Sincere Izabayo, a marketeer based in Kigali who works with hotels and bars. He added, “Focus on personalised experiences tailored to each customer's preferences to foster strong connections.” 2. Provide reliable, quality service In the hospitality industry, consistency is essential. According to a study by PWC, one in three customers will leave a hospitality brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92 per cent would completely abandon it after two or three negative interactions. A good customer experience leads to your customers spending more. The study shows that 86 per cent of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. ALSO READ: The challenge of poor customer care Egide Munyeragwe, a local bar owner, also thrives on creating memorable experiences for customers, which he said starts with the service they provide. “When people come to a restaurant or bar, they're not just looking for a meal or a drink; they're looking for an escape from their daily routine, a place to relax, socialise, and enjoy themselves. If you don't deliver good service, you risk letting your customers down and damaging your reputation,” he said. Munyeragwe also emphasised having trained staff to provide excellent service, from greeting guests with a smile to ensuring their food and drinks are served promptly and prepared to perfection. 3. Have loyalty programmes and rewards in place Putting in place a carefully thought-out loyalty programme can increase client retention. For example, 44 per cent of consumers report that such programmes sway their hotel choice. More so, loyal customers are known to spend 22.4 per cent more and prolong their stay by 28 per cent compared to sporadic customers. This is also capitalised by Izabayo who advises, “You should come up with exclusive rewards to loyal customers to incentivise repeat visits and encourage customer retention.” “Recurring clients,” he continued, “might be incentivised to choose your company over rivals by giving them awards, discounts, or special benefits. This not only increases their loyalty but also encourages new clients to come back in the future.” 4. Grow a positive online presence In the digital environment we live in today, it is vital for any hospitality business to have a positive online presence, including social media. One study published in Statford Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management revealed that social media networks have significantly contributed to the performance of the upmarket hotels in Kigali and have been used for marketing purposes to attract customers. About 96.4 per cent of the hotels’ clients use social media platforms to make bookings while only 3.6 per cent of most respondents indicated that social media networks had a small impact on their hotel business. According to Izabayo, one can build and maintain a positive online presence and social media through an attractive website and active social media channels. He advises, “Share visually appealing content, promote special offers, and engage with customers to build a community around your brand.” To create excitement and draw in new customers, Izabayo recommends encouraging guests to post about their experiences and hosting social media competitions or promotions. 5. Embrace criticism and leverage customers feedback According to Hospitality Insights, finding areas for improvement is important to any hospitality business. This can be accomplished by asking your customers for input and suggesting what could be made better. Izabayo said that giving visitors several ways to voice their ideas, such as comment cards, online polls, and direct emails, and utilising that feedback can help maintain clientele “Make sure you address any concerns of your customers promptly and demonstrate that you value their opinions. That also helps in building trust and loyalty,” he said.