By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (

How do you spur past guests to return to your property or, at the very least, interact with a member of your team after they’ve left? Nowadays, the extent of most hotels’ post-stay communications with customers pertains only to generic templated emails and hardly ever a phone call or a handwritten note.

As this is the new normal, any property that breaks away from this mold will be much more likely at getting a lasting impression. And so, a recent UPS delivery brought an unexpected surprise – a package for my wife from a small property in Newfoundland called Fogo Island Inn that we thoroughly enjoyed.

While examining the box, my mind wandered. Did we forget something in the room? Doubtful, as our stay there was in the spring of 2016, and I don’t recall anything amiss following that trip. Was it something my wife ordered from the hotel’s online store? A quick holler-out to my spouse elicited a negative. So, what was it and why was she getting this delivery?

Opening the shipping box, revealed a simple card. Next, do you have any idea what a ‘Fluevog’ is? Opening the package, we found these rather unusual boots, called after their namesake designer. The color motif was unique to the property, and all pairs are already long sold out.

Naturally, an unexpected gift of this nature deserved a response. I contacted the property, not only to thank them, but also to learn some more about the program. In speaking with the receptionist on the other line, I learned that the program was targeted at visitors who stayed in their suites – only five of which actually are suites out of the total of 29 guestrooms. My wife’s shoe size was duly recorded in the property’s CRM when she donned raingear on our last day during our vacation there. The timing of the shoe distribution reflected their big data prediction that a past guest typically wants to revisit every three years.

This is an example of a brilliant loyalty program that is also entirely modern. Its simplicity relies on levering CRM data to deliver a unique item that has perfect personalization – that is, it’s expressive and unique to the resort while also incorporating the guest’s shoe size.

One may argue that, with Fogo Island Inn’s small size and rates in excess of $1,000 per night, standard rules of hotel marketing don’t apply. I beg to differ! This is an example of a hotel thinking differently.

There is a world of ideas out there beyond simply running Google Adwords as a means to get more non-referral customers. As a start, how are you reminding your past guests and reinvigorating them to give you another try? Look at your data to gauge how long the average guest waits before returning as well as what time of year and how far out they usually book. From there, try sending out a token gift with a handwritten note and see what happens. Just another marketing trick of the trade!

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Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.