What's More Valuable? Repeat or Referral?

Today, my friends and I were reviewing a marketing plan, when one asked, "how is this expereience going to get people to come back?". That's a question often asked, and usually answered with something along the lines of "we're more convenient, we're better, or we offer a better value", etc. This is fine if your selling Coke or Courtyard by Marriott (nothing against them, just an example). People buying these products are looking to feel "safe". That's what convenience, consistent quality and good value are all about.

But, many in the hospitality business are not selling the safe buy. Rather, they offer new, unique, unusual, creative and astounding experiences to make people feel special and cared for. Respectively, their audience is likely to try new things and new places which is precisely why they showed up at the door in the first place.

So, don't try to make these guests do something they aren't naturally looking to do, come back every six months. Instead, focus on something much more important...making sure their experience is so emotionally moving that it becomes memorable. Memorable enough to compel them to spread the word about you to friends, neighbors, customers and business partners. This is far more valuable than worrying whether or not they will come back year after year. Of course, they will eventually return, especially after they've tried a few other things and found those experiences to be inferior to yours. Remember to be better!