The Insider: The Art of Retention in Hospitality

For decades, the hospitality industry went to extraordinary lengths to cater to the needs of their guests during their stay, so they’d keep coming back for more.  In the early 80s, they quickly copied the airline industry’s attempt to attract and retain customers with loyalty programs that soon set the bar for other businesses to follow.

But with today’s high-demand, “me first” travelers, loyalty program points aren’t adding up to engagement or repeat business like they used to.

Travelers have more choices than ever in terms of places to stay, especially with the explosion of OTAs, home-sharing, and private vacation rentals.  Choosing your hotel is like picking a needle from a haystack.  If you don’t stand out throughout the customer’s pre-purchase journey, you’re invisible.  Sure, you can snag a customer with a very cheap nightly rate, but that tactic is not sustainable. Only exceptional experiences pre-, during-, and post-stay will make them remember you fondly when they next choose to travel.

But it’s not just guest retention hotels need to worry about. Employee turnover is an escalating problem for hotels in many parts of the world, with churn rates ranging from 30 to over 73%.

From the moment someone arrives at your hotel, their experience meter starts running: starting with  the valet at the entrance to the front desk clerk to the concierge to the restaurant greeter, server, busboy, or chef and to the housekeeping staff who prepared the room for their arrival.  The guest might never even see many of your employees face-to-face, but their efforts speak volumes in terms of the customer’s impressions and evaluation of the hotel.

Employee expectations, just like guest expectations, are always changing and growing. Keeping up with the latest trends for attracting and retaining top talent and growing customer loyalty and revenues is an ongoing challenge.

Let us make it easier for you with a collection of articles from the January 2020 edition of The Insider magazine: The Art of Retention.

Hotel hiring strategies


In September 2019, at the Skift Global Forum, we watched a captivating speaker ask the audience upfront, “How do we feel about our average industry rate of turnover being 73.8%?”  Talk about bringing down the house! Harsha Chanrai, founder and CEO of Saira Hospitality, didn’t hold back any punches.  The team at PressReader just had to find out more.

Check out this fascinating interview we had with Harsha on how hotels that invest in local talent with an innate “desire to serve” are growing brand loyalty and retention by leaps and bounds.

Cultivating the hospitality gene

Privacy and personalization


In the past year, there have been more than a few data breaches in the hospitality industry which has had serious impacts on the affected brands’ reputations and consumer trust.

Many advocates of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) hope that new laws will help put a stop to privacy abuse in the hotel industry, but it won’t be easy.

And what about personalization?  How can hotels market to an audience of one with their hands tied on the use of personal data?  We decided to take a deep dive into the challenge and offer some ideas.

Privacy and personalization in hospitality starts with permission

Guest retention


Did you know that 77% of brands today could disappear, and no one would care? Consumer loyalty has become as fickle as the weather.  And the hospitality industry is not immune.

Increasing retention rates of your guests by as little as 5% can boost your profits anywhere from 25%-95%.  Having a person stay in your hotel is the warmest lead you’ll ever get to turn a stranger into an advocate for the brand.  So don’t let the opportunity pass you by.  Here are some simple ways to grow guest retention in your hotel.  We’d love to know what you think.

How to grow guest retention

Employee retention


Employees can be the best ambassadors for your hotel, but only if they have the tools and training to showcase your brand in every interaction with a visitor or customer.  A stunning lobby entrance may impress a guest for a moment, but a memorable “surprise and delight” experience with an employee will last long after they leave, which is why it is so important to look for the hospitality gene in the hiring process.

Investing in talent with an innate desire to serve will grow brand loyalty and retention. People who care about people and who understand the importance of delivering superior guest experiences all day, every day, are the lifeblood of a hotel.

At the end of the day, happy, healthy, and empowered employees translate to a better experience for guests, strengthening the loyalty chain and growing retention and revenues.

Guest retention starts with employee retention

Retention strategies


Hospitality, the largest employer in the world, has an annual turnover rate of 31-34%.  In the US, the rate for non-management staff is closer to 50%.  And if one looks only at the hotel and motel sectors in the US, the annual rate is anywhere between 60-300%!

The situation is the same, if not worse, in the UK, where hospitality is the third-largest private-sector employer with over 3.2M workers.  Given the cost of losing an employee can be between 0.5X and 1.5X their salary, it’s pretty clear that hoteliers need to make employee retention a strategic priority.

In December 2019, PressReader reached out to the Forbes Travel Guide Standards Advisory Committee to get insights into what hotels are doing today to retain employees.  Because they believe as we do that employees’ experiences have a high impact on customer experience.  Check it out!

Retention in Hospitality Study 2020



A decade ago, sustainability in the hospitality sector was a nice-to-have.  Today, it is a business imperative as more and more people not only make sustainable travel choices, many are willing to pay more for them.  If you care about the planet as much as your guests do, make it obvious to them by making sustainability a commitment, not a marketing strategy.  Walk the talk!

PressReader has had the privilege to work with many hotel brands committed to transforming themselves into sustainable properties.  Here are a few of our partners that might inspire you.

Sustainability in hospitality is good business

Lessons from Richard Branson


Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest have become addictive to not only consumers but every brand on the planet that is chasing the proverbial long tail to grow scale. Many hotels are citizens of that madding crowd.

With three billion people online, it’s tempting to try and reach them all with advertorial content, especially when the cost of distribution is next to nothing.  But spewing out tweets and posts like water through a firehose isn’t engagement; it’s spam.

But what can hotels do is to turn over a new leaf and really start to show they care about the people who work for them, connect with them on social, and stay with them?

Check out these six lessons from someone who truly “cares” and epitomizes a person-first mentality–self-made billionaire, international entrepreneur, and founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson.

Why caring is fundamental in the hospitality sector