These influencers have dozens of daily opportunities to send customers your way. Give them a reason to.
by: Joni Sweet
When you’re staying in a new city, whom do you ask for a restaurant or service business recommendation? If you’re like many people, you ask your hotel’s concierge. These trusted influencers refer hundreds of people to local shops, restaurants, bars and specialty services each week — so it pays to court them.
Simply dropping off a stack of brochures at their desk isn’t enough to win their referral. Here are some creative strategies to get them to send customers your way.
Think outside the hotel
While hotels are the first locations people expect to find a concierge, there are many other places that offer this type of service. “We have concierges in the corporate arena, high-end residential properties, retail establishments and medical institutions,” said Sara-ann Kasner, founder of the National Concierge Association.
The types of clients concierges serve will vary depending on their location. Concierges at a medical institution may make many referrals to florists, while those at high-end shopping centers will advise clients on where to find specialty items. Consider how your business serves the needs of each concierge’s clientele.
The one thing that people who seek out concierges services have in common, says Kasner, is that they’re less sensitive to price than the average customer. This means the opportunity for spending is higher when a concierge sends a customer to your business.
Partner with concierge associations
Local chapters of national concierge networking groups are the best place to start making connections.
“Networking groups are a one-stop shop. The small business owner can join as affiliate partner and attend monthly meetings and then meet with a whole bunch of concierges at one time. Most concierges are open to giving a business card and receiving e-mail information from businesses on a daily basis,” said Kasner.
Small businesses can expect to pay a few hundred dollars per year to gain affiliate membership status at concierge organizations. But Kasner says the potential return on investment is huge.
“At the NCA, for instance, we have something called the endorsed partner program. Small businesses can be featured on our website and have access to the all-important membership list. They can then call, e-mail and text concierges.”
Build personal relationships
Sending frequent updates via text or e-mail are easy ways to remind concierges about your business. But the key to getting a majority of their referrals is to build relationships and get concierges deeply familiar with your offerings.
“Any time you can get a concierge to come into your establishment, that’s going to work like magic. I’d say at least 90 percent of my recommendations are because I’ve been there and I’ve enjoyed it,” said Kasner.
Offer concierges a gift certificate so they can experience your products or services at their own convenience. Holding an event for concierges is another idea. Restaurants may choose to host a sit-down dinner or cocktail hour, retail stores can offer a meet-and-greet with designers (complete with a take-home goody bag) and a florist might invite concierges to a flower-arranging class.
Earn their recommendation
People in concierge roles are deeply committed to the satisfaction of their clients. The opportunity for a complimentary meal or services will get concierges in the door, but you’ll need to wow them with top-notch service to earn their recommendation.
“Presentation and service go hand-in-hand,” said Kasner. “When a client walks into door, there has to be presentation. The business has to look nice and the service has to be absolutely stellar.”
If your business gets a call from a concierge, prioritize it. If a concierge is waiting on hold or waiting for a call back, she will likely send her client somewhere else.
“The first thing is when I call that business, they have to respond to me almost right away. That’s the number one thing that we hear so often from concierges in the NCA is that they don’t call a business that doesn’t respond to them.”
Once concierges trust you’ll treat their clients like royalty, they’ll happily refer your business.