Since before I can remember, my parents brought me along to their business and exposed me to the ins and outs of customer service, business basics, and operational logistics. One of the lessons that I’ll never forget was articulated regularly by my father like this: “you’ve always go to make sure customers can find your business location: As quick as possible, and as easily as possible” Seems simple right? It is common sense, isn’t it? Every business has an address, no?
Well, you’d be surprised. The number of businesses that don’t clearly state their address is shockingly high. Worse still, those who do make their address known tend to leave it at that. Just the address. And they’re missing out on business and may be jeopardizing their customer service before their guests even arrive.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can easily increase the number of patrons that arrive at your front door while positively impacting their guest experience. Here’s how in 3 simple tips.
#1 Use local Points of Interest (POI), establishing a visual reference guide for customers
Chances are good that visual cues exist in and around your property. First, consider popular POI like well-known restaurants, tourist attractions, unique buildings, monuments, or other places of significance. Is your hotel in the middle of nowhere? Don’t be discouraged. Instead, get a bit creative. Is there a gas station nearby? How about a ‘fresh veggies sign’ for a local farm, telephone posts, or mature trees near key intersections?
These can be leveraged to direct people to your property. Here’s how:
When including directions online, tell customers what POI are visible at the intersections they need to turn at. Go a step further and let them now what visual cues or landmarks are just beyond your hotel (within 500 yards) so that they know when they have gone too far.
Wrap a band of bright tape around poles at intersections where people need to turn. Then, make note of this on your website by publishing clear directions mentioning your visual cues. Be sure to include a link to these directions when emailing confirmed guests as well. This helps to enhance the customer’s experience with defined visual indicators confirming when and where to turn.
Don’t forget to keep all signage clear and visible. Drivers are not simply walking by. They need to spot your sign while driving 30 mph down the road, especially if your hotel is in a rural area. Help them by using colours that stand out, like a red font on a white background. Make sure the lettering is simple and easy to read, such as printed block letters versus cursive lettering. Trim any shrubbery that may get in the way of the sign. If government signage exists directing people to your hotel, that’s great, but keep an eye on it to ensure trees don’t block it from the driver’s view.
#2 Leverage Google Maps to help travellers find your hotel
We live in a digital age. People, young and old are resorting to their mobile devices for just about every aspect of their trips. From the early planning stages, to managing booking confirmations, and travel details. So if your guests are using mobile to find you, you need to list your location in a mobile friendly way. Start by adding your hotel to Google Maps to enhance their experience.
Adding your hotel to Google Maps is simple and takes mere minutes to get started. But don’t stop there.
#3 Add your hotel location on GPS
Many people rent vehicles with GPS (global positioning satellites) while on business or leisure trips. As such, they use these in-car devices instead of their cell phone. Listing your hotel address on the world’s most popular mapping systems can be done fairly easily these days and is free to do.
GPS providers typically have filters for hotels and POI. Drivers can select these and see an automatic listing of every hotel within close proximity. Wouldn’t you want your hotel to be listed? It’s a simple thing to do, but it can make a difference when it comes down to the number of walk-ins that your lodgings attract. This also helps to reaffirm the importance of including locale POI in your directions as those who have already booked a stay will know that they are well on their way when they pass your visual cues.
That said, not all hotels have a physical address and postcode. Some have an official address but it may not be well displayed via an online map. If this is the case for your establishment, you may not be able to add it to Google Maps and GPS. Instead, find an approximate location for your hotel by visiting Google Maps and search for close POIs. Then, take a ‘screen capture’ of both a close up view and a zoomed out view. Publish these ‘screen captures’ to your website. Use a program like Microsoft Paint to add a dot or star, and the name of your hotel. This will give guests a clear understanding of your location. Also, let them know why you’re doing this so that they know that they can’t find you on Google, and print your map ahead of time.
It’s no surprise that getting lost, wasting time, or getting stuck in traffic is stressful on the best of days. By making it as intuitive as possible for guests to find you, you work to improve their experience before they arrive. By going a step further and listing your hotel on GPS, you may even be able to attract new customers for little to no added cost. When walk-ins check-in, ask them how they found your hotel to track the value of your various location listings. Have questions? Use the comments below or join us on Twitter.