I Don’t Know How To Put This, But I’m Kind of a Big Deal

By: Mathew McLarnon, Product Marketing Manager at AudienceView

On a recent business trip I was chuffed to discover that I was our hotel’s “Guest of the Day”! Despite being a marketer myself, at the time I was pretty taken and didn’t even realize I had become the victim of a “Surprise and Delight”.

For the uninitiated, a surprise and delight is a tactic used to attract and nurture customers by enhancing their brand interactions by offering them unexpected rewards. You may recall Bud Light’s “Up For Whatever” campaign or WestJet’s Christmas Miracle (I challenge you to not have an emotional response to the latter). These are great examples of the approach, but don’t let them fool you, surprise and delights don’t need to cost millions or have a small army of support staff. My experience only required basic some office supplies, a few snacks, a branded water bottle, a handwritten note and maybe 15 minutes of someone’s time.

However the question begs, can these wildly different approaches even live on the same plane? Let’s break down the objectives of surprise and delight and see how the hotel did.

Make the customer feel valued with a level of personalization.

  • Check! Particularly after a three and a half hour flight and an hour drive to walk into the hotel and see my name displayed on the front desk definitely made me valued and welcome.

Promote customer loyalty, engagement and reduce churn.

  • Check! I’ve been a long-time status-holding member of the loyalty program that will soon be absorbed by this hotel’s program. Will I still hold the same affinity post merger? This experience was more than positive, it was notable, and will no doubt come to mind when I’m booking my next trip and will go a long way toward keeping me loyal in their new system.

Foster brand awareness by giving the customer something they want to tell friends and social media connections about.

  • Check! I admit that I am not the most active poster on social media, but in this case the hotel earned themselves a tag and a shout-out across my platforms. This is where my, “kind of a big deal” status was confirmed.

Three for three. It turns out surprise and delight is a pretty scalable tactic.

Admittedly the travel industry benefits from knowing exactly who is staying in which room or sitting in what seat, but when it comes to live entertainment, we’re not far off. We have a better opportunity than most industries to interact on a personalized, one-to-one level with our subscribers, season ticket holders, or better yet, the people that we’ve identified who could potentially become subscribers or season ticket holders. Let’s not let this unique advantage go to waste.

A Super Bowl campaign level of expense or effort isn’t required for this kind of tactic to be effective, you’d be surprised how far a handwritten note and some branded swag can get you. This is where you get to leverage the hard work you’ve done in your CRM. So, do some business intelligence work and find out who deserves or even who would benefit from a little love. Figure out a way to recognize them before the show, leave something special on their seat or get creative. In short, figure out a way that you can make your customers feel like kind of a big deal and they will return the favor.

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