By Kacey Bradley

As an industry, finding useful lessons from other industries that seem completely different may feel impossible. But sometimes that extra effort pays off, because you can make improvements to your own industry that you may not have thought about otherwise. Especially when it comes to customer service that can make or break a business.

That’s why it’s so important to study what cruise lines do to make their customers keep coming back for more to help the hotel industry find the same results. Sometimes brands hit a dead end and customers can sense it, leading to major losses. Fix this problem by focusing on five things that cruise lines do that can be replicated in any hotel.

1. Customer Interaction Is Key

The first impression is always the most important, which is why you need to ensure that your hotel brand or business has excellent customer interaction on every level. When people are on your website, they need to feel welcomed and guided along the process of figuring out which room is right for them. If they’ve got questions, a help line should be easily located on any page. The goal is for customers to feel at ease and welcome at any point in their experience with your hotel, much like on a cruise.

2. Connect Customers with Activities

The biggest pull that cruises have is that they take guests to fun locations and offer entertainment all along the way. Hotels can’t do that exact same thing, but it’s important to connect customers with local activities. Front desk staff can talk with guests that check in to get to know what they’re interested in doing, and can print out further information about related activities they may like. Making a personal connection is just one of the great ways to emotionally connect with customers.

3. Make Their Stay Luxurious

Luxury suites can really make the difference when it comes to a guest’s experience in a hotel. No matter what happens, they know they can rely on their extra comfy mattress and soft towels to help relax and recharge them. For when you can’t make a room luxurious, go the extra mile to make it feel like home.

Much like how smaller cruise ships can make guests feel happier, smaller hotel rooms can too. Don’t compromise on the quality of towels or linens that stock each room. Have the staff leave a welcome note on the dresser, or lay out informational pamphlets to help the guests get adjusted to the new area. Think outside the box to stretch your budget and make guests feel like they’ve walked into a home and not a hotel.

4. Focus On Value

When people talk about why they’re excited to go on their cruise, what they’ll mainly mention is what a deal they’re getting. Transportation, entertainment and food all wrapped up in one bundle. See what you can do to include this same kind of value in your hotel. Introduce loyalty programs to customers at check in, so they know how to save money. Include things like breakfast, parking and wifi to attract and keep new customers. If people know that you value their money as much as they do, they’ll keep coming back.

5. Give Them More Than They Need

It’s always a good idea to anticipate your customers’ needs, but it’s an even better idea to be more than prepared for whatever those needs are. Having extra towels ready in the closet or laying out a local TV channels guide will show them that you’re thinking ahead about what could possibly make their trip better. This kind of forward thinking is what makes cruise lines so popular, and is applicable to hotels as well.

When you’re trying to improve a brand, it can be difficult to find inspiration from other businesses, but when it comes to hotels, looking at cruise lines for help can be a great thing to do. Take notes on everything that makes customers appreciate cruise lines, even if they’re seemingly small like towel animals left on the beds. Try to replicate that feeling for hotel customers so they feel welcomed, at home and instantly at ease. They’ll leave ready to come back for more.