In a 2020 article published in Forbes titled, “The Five Love Languages Of Account Engagement,” the author explained that when they wanted to learn more about relationships, they picked up a book.
NB: This is an article from Laasie
Specifically, they picked up Gary Chapman’s 1992 bestseller, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. “As a pastor, Gary worked with couples who loved each other but had different communication styles, primarily in how they expressed love,” she wrote. “It sounds odd, but communicating love profoundly affects relationships. If you don’t understand each other’s languages, it’s pretty hard to build bonds and trust.”
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The author quickly drew a parallel between the romantic examples Chapman detailed and the relationships between businesses and their customers. “Our businesses depend on us building bonds and trust with customers and future customers. What can the five love languages teach us about better prospecting buyers?”
This line of questioning is entirely relevant – any business, regardless of industry, must find ways to connect with their customers or clients. Beyond seeking out a high-quality product or service, consumers want to feel understood by the brands they purchase from, and that connection can’t be achieved without effective communication strategies. Much like our romantic relationships, businesses can have all the right intentions and still deliver a sentiment or gesture in a way that falls flat with the customer they hope to engage. In simple terms, they are simply speaking the wrong “love” language to their customer.
The concept of “love languages” shows couples how to give each other love in ways that it is best received. The five love languages are as follows:
- Acts of Service (Doing helpful things for your partner)
- Quality Time (Spending meaningful time with your partner)
- Physical Touch (Being close to and caressed by your partner)
- Words of Affirmation (Saying supportive things to your partner)
- Gifts (Giving your partner gifts that tell them you were thinking about them)
Understanding these love languages and how they apply to guest relationships can help hotels connect with their guests more effectively. This becomes especially relevant in the world of hospitality, as hotels work to understand (and more importantly, win the favor of) the modern guest. In fact, it could be argued that understanding love languages applies to virtually every part of the hospitality experience (because it does). You’re not finding the perfect guest, and you’re looking at who your guests are as they are and speaking to them. The more you speak your guest’s language, the easier it is to develop relevant and effective messages for them.
Still, there is perhaps one arena in which the importance of this philosophy is undeniable: guest loyalty.
Spoiler Alert: Guest Loyalty Isn’t Dead
Of course, any mention of guest loyalty may be met with some degree of apprehension in the current landscape. Not because the relevance of guest loyalty is in question, but rather, because it’s increasingly complex for hoteliers to earn the loyalty of their guests. The hospitality market has always been competitive, but now, with an influx of accommodation options, including large chain hotels, boutique properties, and Airbnb rentals, combined with ever-changing guest expectations and travel trends, guests can be incredibly selective with their purchase behavior.
Believe it or not, guest loyalty isn’t dead. It’s there for the taking – as it always has been – it just requires hotels to work more intelligently and personally. If the loyalty program of yesterday is no longer enticing guests today, it’s time to come to the table with something new. To move beyond a transactional relationship that is unlikely to garner feelings of connection and loyalty, hoteliers must focus first on fostering meaningful relationships with guests by getting to know their unique needs and expectations. And yet, traditionally, hospitality loyalty programs have focused exclusively on a transaction (the booking decision) while offering guests rewards via a point-based, volume model. As we look around at our landscape, it’s easy to recognize how these systems have fallen short. Modern guests crave loyalty programs that offer instant, tangible, and personalized value.
This is where the idea of love languages comes into play. When you understand what motivates travelers and how they communicate (and receive) appreciation, you unlock a critical roadmap to earning their favor and long-term loyalty.
Taking a Page Out of Sephora’s Book
Let’s consider a real-life example of this ideology at work. Sephora, the beloved French beauty brand with a cult-like following of loyal customers, offers a truly best-in-class loyalty program. Why is it so great? Because it not only provides ‘tiers’ of rewards – it pays close attention to customers (who they call Beauty Insider members) and offers delightfully tailored rewards. At every purchase, members are prompted to select from a range of “trial-size” products or can exchange points (earned at every purchase) for non-product rewards, including in-store makeovers or discounted purchases. They also offer members early access to sales, private shopping events, and yearly birthday gifts.
Looking beyond the purchase moment, Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community is focused on “building an exclusive community” of customers. This program acts as a well-oiled, loyalty-driving machine, tapping into the power of emotional perks and inclusivity, as well as instant, personalized perks and rewards based on a careful analysis of consumers’ purchase behavior and product preference. With over 17 million members in North America alone, the loyalty program members reportedly drive 80% of sales while also providing strong, organic publicity to the brand.
There is no denying it – Sephora is effectively speaking the language of its customers, and both the brand and those who purchase from it are reaping the rewards (literally). Rather than assuming a one-size-fits-all approach, Sephora seems to understand that what means something to one customer may not resonate with another. Instead of appealing to a small customer set, they have built out a program that can be customized according to each customer’s preferences, interests, and values (in other words, their love languages). As you might have guessed, hotel loyalty programs should abide by the same proven framework.
Fortunately, Lassie has developed a comprehensive E-Book, The 5 Languages of Guest Loyalty: How to build relationships that drive more bookings and keep guests coming back, which promises to help hoteliers become fluent in the language of guest connection. Throughout each chapter, we examine the current loyalty landscape within hospitality, identify what works (and what doesn’t), and give you the tools to build one-to-one relationships with guests, enhance every interaction and touch-point (both online and on-property), drive repeat transactions, and effectively grow the lifetime value of each guest.