There are many acronyms in this industry, but the one that has struck a chord with me is SECRET. It stands for Spark, Entertain, Connect, Reward, Educate and Trust.
According to its creator (@digitalblonde), it is a way of looking at your marketing strategy with an emphasis on the importance of engaging with customers.
In my hotel days I wanted customers to have a memorable stay, tell others and then return. I used tools such as brochures, mailshots, PR and awards, and those may still
have some use, but now it is a question of balancing traditional methods with the digital age.
SECRET made me think about my hotel days, because, when you look at it, very little has changed apart from the speed and method of communication. We all need a spark in our business lives. If you don't have it, then young people do, so you need to encourage participation from the young people around you - the people that really want to get out of bed and do a great job. We also need to create a spark in customers' minds.
How often have you been entertained by other people's stories? Did you engage with that person more because you empathised or because it made you laugh and feel better?
Social media gives us an ideal opportunity to have greater engagement, but that doesn't just mean shouting about today's special offer.
Instead, we want to emphasise other people's experiences of when they stayed and took advantage of the latest special offer. In this way guests are far more likely to
connect to your brand or hotel. And if they are a happy and satisfied customer, they are going to tell other people, and especially those online.
For this they might build up a reward. This may be just a thank you or it might be a complimentary bottle of wine or a free night.
That person has now become an educated customer. They have experienced your hotel, enjoyed themselves, and they may return. They may comment on blogs, add positive reviews on ratings sites and become your unpaid salesperson for your hospitality business.
There are so many great stories about in this business that it is time we stopped keeping them a secret. Instead, we should all become storytellers. And if your customers become storytellers, they will do the same for your potential guests.