Hotel Propeller Blog

How Exit Surveys Can Help You Grow Your Inn Business

How Exit Surveys Can Help You Grow Your Inn Business

How do you keep customers? By using an exit survey to learn if they are satisfied.

Your customers come, and they go. Some of them return, and some of them don’t.

Do you know why your customers return and what they enjoyed about your inn? Do you know why others are never to be seen again? If your answers are no, we’d like to propose you use an exit survey to find out.

In this article, we look at how exit surveys can help you grow your inn business. First, let’s define the exit survey.

Definition of the Exit Survey

Getting to know your customer is invaluable to your inn business. Using the exit survey, you learn a lot about what your customers liked and where you might have room to improve.

The exit survey is a survey you send to your customers asking them why they chose your inn, what they liked and what they think you could change for the better.

Exit surveys can be sent in an email to your customers, or you can provide them with a self-addressed comment card. You will have a better chance at receiving responses when you send the exit survey through email. In this article, we’ll concentrate on sending exit surveys through email.

Purpose of the Exit Survey

The purpose of an exit survey is two-fold. First, you want to learn what your customer thinks about your inn.

This enables you to capitalize on the positive parts of your business while concentrating on fixing the issues you learn about in your exit surveys.

This helps you grow your inn business because you learn the positive and the negative. By expanding on the positive, you can reach additional customers and enhance the experience of your current customers.

By working on the negative, you have the opportunity to fix problems you might not have even known existed.

For example, let’s say you offered a light snack at 2 pm. After receiving exit survey responses, you may learn that the majority of your customers would prefer the light snack at 4 pm.  You can now meet their needs as well as the needs of future customers.

Second, you want to have an ongoing avenue for speaking with your customer. How? You have to gather his email address before sending out an exit survey, right?

Now that you’ve gathered your customer’s email address, you can continue to communicate with him through ongoing emails filled with promotions, tips and more.

Growing your business is about relationship building. Having the ability to reach your customer’s email inbox allows you to nurture this relationship until your customer is ready to find a place to stay again and remembers you.

It is also generally more cost effective to market to an existing customer, so now that you’ve gotten your customer’s email address for the exit survey, you are well on your way to building a relationship and creating a repeat customer.

Formatting Your Exit Survey for Success

How many questions should you ask? Should they be multiple-choice, or should you let your customers type their own answers? Here are some best-practices for formatting your exit survey:

  • Some of the best exit survey questions are open-ended. Include a few of these.
  • You can also use drop-down menus and allow your customers to choose from your list of pre-chosen answers.
  • Keep your exit surveys to around 3-5 questions (and no more than 10) and no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Coming up with questions for your exit surveys may seem daunting at first, but here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What attracted you to the inn?
  • What did you like most about the inn?
  • What did you like least about the inn?
  • Are there any things you’d like to see at the inn?
  • Will you return, and if so, why?
  • Will you return, and if not, why?
  • Describe your thoughts on the living area. This is a good place for multiple choice answers.
  • Describe your thoughts on the bathroom. Another good place for multiple choice answers.
  • Tell us about your experience in the dining room. And, another good place for multiple choice answers.

This list encompasses much more than you’ll want to ask in one survey. To par it down, decide what you really want to learn and ask only those questions. Think about what you’re willing to change as well.

Exit Surveys

Exit surveys are a cost-effective marketing tool to help you reach current and future customers.

Using the Information

Exit surveys are incredibly useful, but only if you actually use the information. (tweet this) This means you have to compile the survey information and use it to make changes.

Exit surveys can be used to help you improve the following:

  • The acquisition of new customers.
  • Turning current customers into repeat customers.
  • Your marketing efforts.

When you know specifically what attracted a customer to your inn, you’ll be better equipped to promote your business on the right platforms. You’ll have more knowledge regarding your target audience and how to appeal to their needs.

By knowing what your customers like and why they chose you, you can spend your marketing dollars more efficiently and grow your business in a strategic manner.

You’ll also grow your business using exit surveys because you can change the aspects of your inn that customers don’t like. Perhaps it’s the reservation process, the linens, the service or the cleanliness. Once you know this information, you can start working to correct it.

Your exit surveys also tell you if your customers will return, and if they won’t, why not. This enables you to learn what pushed your customers away and fix it.

Final Thoughts

Exit surveys can help you grow your inn business because you are able to collect information that helps you improve your inn and your processes.

Growing your business begins in earnest once you understand what your current customers want and what they don’t want. Learning their thoughts assists you in anticipating the needs of your future customers while continuing to meet the needs of current customers.

Plan your exit surveys thoughtfully. Target your questions so you effectively address the positives and the negatives for increased success.

Lastly, a final word on unhappy customers. Since you have their email address and most likely their phone number, get in contact with them. Let them know you received their survey response.

Offer them your empathy and a listening ear. Find out if you can do anything to earn back their business.

If you succeed at winning back an unhappy customer, you’ll find they are a customer for life. According to one source, customers who get their issue resolved tell four to six people about their experience. This is what we call great marketing.

Have you conducted an exit survey before? Did you gain valuable information? We’d love to hear about your experience. Please share your comments below.

Images:  Mark Cameron and NNECAPA Photo Library

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