We just returned from a lovely vacation in the Caribbean. As we’ve done for the last 30 years, each year we find a new place to relax and recharge.

These properties take pride in providing exceptional service. The staff quickly learn our names, food and seating preferences, and ask about the interests of our family members, so they can recommend the appropriate activities and outings. This level of personalized attention is always impressive and adds greatly to the quality of the vacation experience. However, once we leave the properties…all the love and attention vanishes!

How is it that these wonderful properties, which value personalized engagement on-property, do not sustain the engagement once we leave?

We know from our previous experience with hospitality clients such as Starwood’s Luxury Collection and Orient Express, that customer retention is critical. Once a guest crosses a certain threshold, such as 2+ visits, they are very likely to return multiple times. Many of these guests will often bring additional family members.

So, given the importance of retention, why isn’t all the customer information they have gathered during our stay used to drive highly personalized communications per our preferences?

They know our names, the names and ages of our children, our interest in adventurous sea and land excursions, and our love of art, foods and wines. Imagine the exciting and targeted communications, updates and offers which could be sent based on what they know about us!

With all this rich information, all we receive after our stays, if anything, are generic newsletters and generic offers.

It’s not just the many Hospitality marketers that are missing the boat. Think of all the millions of Retail purchases just made during the holidays, with all those opportunities to ask customers their interest in receiving future information related to the items they purchased.

It makes you wonder why so many companies still don’t “get it”. It seems that as we enter 2011, the goal of building the relationship and earning the repeat purchases still lags behind going for the short term “quickie sale”.

So how about a New Year’s resolution to value your customer today…and continue to love them tomorrow?

Read the article in Investor’s Business Daily “Target That Marketing” which discusses Ernan’s book “Voice of the Customer Marketing”.

Author:  Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.  Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.