Back from Jamrock

26 01 2009

I’m back from a week in beautiful Jamaica. It was for my honeymoon and we stayed at the Sandals Grande Ocho Rios. This was the first time I’d been to a Sandals resort and I can now see why they’re one of the leaders in the hotel chain business.

They run a really tight ship in terms of marketing and generating revenue. The biggest thing I noticed was all the ‘value added’ they give you. Before you book the vacation, they heavily promote that the scuba diving is free and that they have an extensive list of high quality restaurants. But once you arrive, they keep the value added going. Our suite was upgraded to an oceanfront suite and the next day we received a letter with a $250 credit for the spa, gift shop, etc. A few days later, we came back to our room to find a nice fruit and cheese plate, with a letter asking if everything has been alright. It’s little touches like this that make you feel like a VIP.

But it’s not all just customer service. The $250 credit encourages you to spend much more than that. And with the prices of things there, it’s very easy. But you are less likely to complain about the prices when you have a credit.

Similarly, they take your name and room number for virtually everything that you do. The restaurants you eat at, the activities you participate in, the things you buy. They have a strong retention tool in place (a points system, essentially) and all of this feeds into that. So because I play volleyball, I get 250 pts and when I get to 25,000, I get a free trip out of it.

I realize this stuff isn’t particularly new or different. But that’s sort of the point. It’s a consistent and simple level of customer service and retention that serves it’s purpose. Ultimately, we felt a little pampered, we felt like they cared about our experience and we felt like they want us back. And it’s that stuff that we will remember much more than the size of the pool or the nightly entertainment (which was also fantastic, by the way).

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