How can a family owned hotel compete against the big chains? Simple. Play the game better! Jim Engel shares with us the history of this beloved and beautiful hotel and also the effort it takes to build a relationship with their loyal customers. Their affordable rewards program is simply second to none and has allowed them to blow their competition away by leveraging their ability to provide an superior experience to their customers.

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Transcript:

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: You don’t build a loyalty club if you have below average service and below average amenities. Yes. If you do those things, you will epically fail. You have to be on, on your game and you should be on top of your game, big time. And we always think we can do better every single day.

Cliff Duvernois: So what makes Michigan a great state? I’m glad you asked. 

Cliff Duvernois: My name is Cliff Duvernois and I’m on a quest to answer that exact question. After 20 years, I’ve returned to my native Michigan, and I’m looking to reconnect with my home state. I’m talking to the people who are behind Michigan’s great businesses and top destinations, the same people who work hard every day to make our lives a little bit brighter.

Cliff Duvernois: And you Michigander are coming along for the ride. 

Cliff Duvernois: This is the Call of Leadership podcast. 

Cliff Duvernois: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to another episode of the Call of Leadership podcast. Today, uh, my guest, not only is he a good friend of mine, he has been operating in the hospitality space for over 45 years.

Cliff Duvernois: Didn’t mean to date you there. sorry, but he is the chief operating officer of the Bavarian Inn Lodge. 

Cliff Duvernois: Father, husband, he’s active in so many different, uh, groups and communities and, and I’m sure we will cover that in the interview to come. But ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the show. Chief Operating Officer, Jim Engel. Jim, how are you?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Wonderful Cliff. Thanks so much for getting together with me to talk about something fun.

Cliff Duvernois: And I will share this right now. I’ve been trying to get Jim on the podcast now, ever since I started, he kept saying no. Nope, no. Finally he said, yes.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: I think there are a lot more important people for you to reach out to before a little old Jim. So I got in the cube finally. Now.

Cliff Duvernois: awesome. This is great. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about where you’re from? Where did you grow up?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yeah, I’d be happy to do that. I, uh, I’m blessed to have been born and raised in Frankenmuth, Michigan, and, uh, we’re known as Michigan’s little Bavaria and it’s a Bavarian themed resort kind of town.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So, uh, I was blessed to, uh, my heritage comes to Frankenmuth from Germany in 1890. Talk about going back to the very beginning. The Franken with founders came in 1845 though. So my family, the Engels came about, uh, in, in English angle. Uh, the Germans would say angle. The angles came over in, uh, 1890. And so I’ve had many generations of my family here and I, uh, was growing up and going to high school and I was looking for a summer job and I walked downtown and I was gonna apply at their two huge restaurants Bavarian in restaurant, in Zehnders restaurant.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And I was gonna walk into Bavarian Inn apply, and I was gonna walk into Zehnders and apply right afterwards and see who would give a 15 year old kid, a kitchen job. When I got to Bavarian Inn, I was interviewed by one of the owners, Judy Zehnder and I had met her just two weeks prior. I was trying to, I was in high school pitching ads for a program for a musical in high school sound of music.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And I was trying to pitch the ad to her. And I was taught how to do that by a teacher who was teaching us how to sell. Right. So I had that meeting two weeks earlier and I gave her the spiel I was taught and I said, would you like to buy an ad Judy? And she said no.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And I was, I was taken a little back by the instant kind of a cold, no, and I, I said, well, why not?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And, uh, and we ended up having a conversation and she bought the ad in the end. So when I come back two weeks later, number one, she recognized my last name and then recognized that my dad was her next door neighbor as a child. So she knew the family and I was hired before I ever crossed the street. and like you said, 45 years ago, that was 45 years ago.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So I kind of grew up in the company.

Cliff Duvernois: you grew up in the company, so let’s, let’s take a step back here. Why did you decide to stick with the service industry?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: You know, that’s a, that’s a good way to right. Say that question because I didn’t intend to stay in it at first of course, I was having a summer job as a kid, and then I went to college and I commuted.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Uh, so I commuted to university of Michigan Flint. I was getting my accounting degree and I kept working cuz I lived right here and I. Could keep working and commute. And so, uh, it was still just summer jobs in, in the winter. I worked too, but not as much cuz I was more intensely involved in school, but I worked year round.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And so I finished college, got my four year degree. And at the right time, Judy said, well, we’re thinking about building a hotel on the other side of the bridge. Now mind you in the restaurant. I had worked all over. I worked in the kitchen. I worked in the lobby as a lobby greeter. I was a host. I worked, uh, city tours, taking bus groups of people.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: It wasn’t a bus. It was a Jeep with a trailer and taking people around Frankenmuth on a historical tour. And I was talking to a microphone while driving the Jeep with people. And then, you know, we had a summer theater, so I worked into theater stuff in the summer. And then, uh, I worked in accounting as a co-op, you know, you had co-op even in college, you could do co-op kind of stuff.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So, uh, I worked in accounting. Sales department before that. And so it was, I was getting ready to shop for a career job and they said, we’re thinking of building a hotel on the other side of the river. So I jumped right in when the design phase of the original a hundred rooms came about in 1984.

Cliff Duvernois: You were getting ready to shop for a job, but then Judy came to you and said, Hey, we’re gonna build this hotel across the river.

Cliff Duvernois: And you’re like, I’m in what was it?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yeah, that’s a very good, good question to Cliffy. The first thing is I wasn’t passionate about moving away but I it’s a little town and I thinking what’s the likelihood I’m gonna find a decent career job.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And I was working at a remember that was a big restaurant. That’s a restaurant that was serving 800,000 meals a year. 

Cliff Duvernois: Yes 

Cliff Duvernois: mm-hmm 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: end. There were, you know, they were one of the largest. They and Zehnders were the largest independent restaurants in the nation at the time. There’s a few more big ones now, but there weren’t back then.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And so I didn’t think there’s any opportunity for leadership cuz there was a lot of managers already working there. Right? So here’s an opportunity where it’s something new. She said, we’re building a hundred rooms. I don’t know where it’ll go from there. So I thought I loved the idea of being close to home.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: I already had a girlfriend who’s now my, wife of nearly 38 years now. And so we went and, uh, , I talked about it seriously with her too, about living here versus other places. And so we decided, I, I decided I love hospitality. It’s an opportunity to do something from the ground up.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Why not? She said, you know what? You might wanna do this for three or five years, who knows, and maybe we’ll build on and maybe we won’t build on, we don’t know. We just don’t know what the future holds. And that was six expansions ago.

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. Love it. And for the audience, I do wanna point out that this was actually an in-depth conversation that I had with Dorothy Zehnder about the history and, and how this whole idea came about and how they finance that stuff. So definitely go back and check out that interview there.

Cliff Duvernois: Now, Jim, so you jump in on the, on the ground floor. Of the lodge it’s being built. Like you said, it was initially the, the, the hundred rooms that were, were being built. What was your position at that time? Did you still think there was gonna be more room for you to go up in upper management? I mean, obviously you’re the chief operating officer.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yes. Back then I was just called an operations manager. And over time I became what was called an assistant general manager than a general manager than a chief operating officer. But we,

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: you know, we had to do everything manually there. Remember there was no internet yet, you know, we weren’t using internet.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: There was 

Cliff Duvernois: no.

Cliff Duvernois: So people had to call and make 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yeah there were no networks. There was no computer networks. Yet we had apple two E green screen computers and dot matrix printers that we were, you know, word did word documents off of basically and old fashioned copy machines. So the technology is so different then.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So I had to learn how to create a reservation system to take reservations over the phone for about, I don’t know. Eight different room types within 100 rooms. And so I went and worked for a couple weeks at a, uh, hotel in Plymouth, Michigan, which no longer exists. It was called the Mayflower hotel family operated the family members there knew the Bavarian Zender family very well and vice versa.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And they sent one of their managers to come up here for a

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: few weeks to work in our big restaurant, cuz they had two restaurants in their hotel and uh, vice. So we did kind of a trade out and I learned everything about how they did their motor coach tours and how they did paper reservations. And. Kind of modeled our entire system off of theirs.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So I had to do that up front before we ever opened. So we did, we bought everything. I had to help specify and buy carpet with Judy and telephone systems and Drapers and, and, uh, everything that went into a hotel room. We had to buy from scratch ourselves. We’re not part of a chain where some leadership, you know, gives you the array of negotiated prices and you ha you go with it.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We had to do it from scratch. I on our own jumped right. In both feet.

Cliff Duvernois: man. That’s really, that’s really awesome that you were so, so much involved in the, in the, well, the birth of 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: this,

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: it was blueprints. Yeah. Started right with the blueprints part. Absolutely.

Cliff Duvernois: So you’ve got the lodge, you created this paper system.

Cliff Duvernois: You’re making reservations. Obviously it’s a hit because if memory serves not too long later, there was an expansion that is true. That was 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: was That is true. We, uh, we realized, well, first of all, it was, you know, kind of in that world of Hodo, where there was holiday ins had pools, surrounded a pool, surrounded by guest rooms.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And that was a pretty popular thing. Well, this is a Bavarian themed version of a similar thing. Meeting space for, 275 people, a dining room, a bar, and a pool area. And a hundred guest rooms. That’s what we were. And we had a lobby that’s the whole place. And so it was, uh, quickly, uh, came to a realization that, wow, it’s really busy.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We have to start tracking the number of people who we turn away. And that was one of the key factors in realizing, we can add on. Sooner or not later. Sure. And we, we literally in the reservation book had an area where we were doing stroke marks from each day. So if they wanted a three night stay and only one of the three was sold out, we put a hash mark on all three pages because we lost three nights of revenue because we didn’t have the one night available and they needed three nights.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So they couldn’t stay, you know, still the way it works today. If you only have one of two nights and they want two nights, they gonna go somewhere else. Typically at least. So we, we started a feasibility study based on the S that we had from our guests and created a model to demonstrate to our banks that, they should look at loaning us some more money.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Of course that happened. And we did that again with a third phase of rooms, we had a hundred rooms. We built, uh, 98 more rooms in, uh, opened in 1989. We opened in 86. Then in 9 89, we had the 98 rooms. Then we added 162 more rooms. And I think we opened those. in 93.

Cliff Duvernois: so how many rooms total do you have 

Cliff Duvernois: now 

Cliff Duvernois: Oh 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: rooms all named after local German families, which could be its entire separate podcast, but we won’t go there, but we have all this heritage. Every room’s got a carved plaque with a German name on the door and their family histories inside.

Cliff Duvernois: By the way. I, I have, I I’m completely spaced on that until you just brought it up because I’ve actually stayed here a couple times and I’m walking down the hallway and I’m seeing all these names and I always wonder whose room I’m gonna be staying in 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: night That’s right. The family kind of thinks it is their room. They’ll bring family from out of town over and say, Hey, can we show them my, our room? they wanna show off the pictures?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Cuz they family submitted pictures of the original settlers or their birth certificates from Germany,

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: things 

Cliff Duvernois: so cool.

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: There’s a lot of history that we’ve got here.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: absolutely

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We’re celebrating our heritage. That’s what this whole Bavarian theme’s about. We’re celebrating our heritage.

Cliff Duvernois: So let’s talk a little bit more about celebrating the heritage here when you’re designing the hotel. And I I’ve stayed at so many hotels now. It’s not even funny. Usually it’s a room and a gym.

Cliff Duvernois: When you guys designed. This place, it was always with the intent. You were gonna have pools, you were gonna have an arcade. You were always gonna have these extra restaurants and have all these different bars. Why did you decide to include all this extra stuff? Why not just build rooms?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Sure. Stepping back, even before that, why did Bavarian wanna build a hotel at all? And what’s opposite of most norms is, they were in the restaurant business.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: I told you they served hundreds of thousands of meals. And they said, what can we do to support the restaurant to serve more meals? And the logical answer is build a hotel. So people stay longer and we can get maybe two meals, maybe even three meals out of them. If they stay two nights, maybe we’ll get a breakfast and a lunch and a dinner and they’ll eat somewhere else for one of their other dinners or something, but we’ll get more meals.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So that was the premise and the whole idea. But then within a hotel, we realized if you wanna be more full service and that’s what Judy wanted. If you wanna be more of a full service restaurant, uh, or, or hotel, you need to offer dining options and you need to offer entertainment value. And they were already in the bar business at Bavarian in.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So it didn’t make sense to open a hotel and not act full service without both bar and dining. And we had a very small game room with, with a hundred rooms. It had four or five games in it, tops. That’s all we had. And that was back when the pinball machine still had circular numbers. Rolling on ’em 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: way Christian there.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yeah. Yeah. So the idea when we added the 98 rooms is when we added a second pool, there was no hotels in Michigan with two indoor pools. It, it set us apart. There were no such things as great Wolf lodges or Kalahari resorts or things like that. Yet that water park world didn’t didn’t exist. So, uh, by having the two pools, and then when we added.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: It created a frenzy of demand because you can swim in two pools in this place. It’s and two hot tubs, you know, nobody had it and in all of Michigan. And so we did the hash marks again and before you know it, we’re building another expansion and now we build, you know, another waterfall pool. Now we’re putting some water features into it.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Cuz the idea of water features, we were on an outdoor water parks, not an indoor. Parks. And Judy was been off, has been referred to as, uh, the mother of water park hotels at the world water park association, national conventions. So we were doing this stuff just before the great Wolf people came, uh, you know, out of the woods, so to 

Cliff Duvernois: speak right.

Cliff Duvernois: built Right. Oh, that’s wonderful. So you’ve opened up the lodge it’s success. You’ve expanded two more times on top of that 360 rooms, did 

Cliff Duvernois: you say 

Cliff Duvernois: 360 rooms?

Cliff Duvernois: Business is good. You’ve got, you know, year round people are coming in. You’ve got all these festivals that are happening in town. Everything else? I want to talk a little bit more about the loyalty program, cuz this has kind of peaked my curiosity. first off.

Cliff Duvernois: Why would you start a loyalty program? Obviously the business is coming in. Sure. So you wouldn’t have to worry about it, but you guys decided to launch a loyalty program anyway. So why do

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: That’s a, that’s a wonderful question. We were up against a lot of competition in Frankenmuth. We didn’t have a lot of gather competition of the kind of services we offer, but we had a lot of other hotels with traditional rooms in one pool. The one property had no pool.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: When it comes to the local community, competitions at one level, but we have competition across the state. We’re, we’re trying to be an attraction town and we’re an attraction hotel with, with two, and then later three pools. And it wasn’t until 1998 that we learned that there was a loyalty school you can go to.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Now, we’ve all been, we’ve been about marketing and the passion in marketing to families and couples and conventions. And weddings all at the same time, we have Mar multiple markets of people we’re trying to attract here. We’re sitting in one of our meeting rooms. Now that if we opened up all the walls, there could be a wedding in here for 240 people.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And so, uh, we’re marketing to all these different Mar groups and what we learned, from reading about loyalty and then going to loyalty school, which was basically like a four day school in Chicago. And, uh, was that. You really wanna get to know who are your best customers? You wanna know, you wanna get to know them better.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And when we went to that school, the idea of loyalty was still relatively young. Not like in Hyat and Hilton and Marriot and the big chains, but in

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: the idea of all loyalty. It was still pretty young people sitting in the room were major retailers with us and a cruise line company that didn’t have a loyalty club yet.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And we, we were the smallest company sitting at that school. Absolute, smallest. Everybody else was national or international company people uh looking at because if you start a loyalty club, if you ever wanna get out of it, how do you do it? They taught you that, how do you market to people to join in the membership of your loyalty club?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Especially if there’s a fee involved. And I’ll talk about that in a minute, but we, so we wanted to be able to understand how this all works. And we love the idea that we would get to know who our best customers are better. In fact, because you’re tracking their. Purchases, you know them at the transactional level, not just, so I know if they stayed one time or 10 times or 22 times, and if they stayed 33 nights over 17 stays, or if they stayed five times with 20 nights, you know, they stayed longer.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So we see their length of stay the how often, uh, and then. By knowing the dates that they come, we learned about the idea of the recency of their visit and the frequency of their visit. Those are two big buzzwords in the loyalty world. So loyalty taught us a lot about marketing and we thought, man, if we can understand our best customers, even better that’s gonna be a, a deep, strong value for it.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And you know, we’re not doing it just in rooms. They get points in our loyalty club for every spend on dining and any of our restaurants, we have five restaurants within the Bavarian properties, and then we have 18 retail stores within our company within the resort. And then there’s the lodge itself.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We have just the one hotel, but it’s 360 rooms. So. We’re tracking all of their transactions at all those locations all the time. And so we know not just the best customers of Bavarian Inn, we know the best customers of every single one of those stores. For any period of time you pick, do you wanna know who your best customer is at Bavarian Inn’s Royal gift shop. 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: For the year or just for three months, we can sift that out and tell you who those people are and hand you, their email addresses or their mailing addresses. If you wanna mail ’em a postcard and thank them and give them some other reward, maybe. So it’s, it’s powerful at the transactional level of why you would wanna do a loyalty club.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And if you know these people better, you can build better relationships with them. You know, overall, you know how, uh, I think you’re aware that certain grocery stores, if you take that loyalty club and you get some extra discount, right?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yes.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yeah. And we all appreciate that you don’t wanna leave money on the table.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Right? Right. So guests, the public don’t wanna leave money on the table. So some people might join the club, just for that reason. And that’s, what’s known more as being the a rewards club. They’re rewarding, Y for coming frequently, and they’re giving you a discount, cuz you’re a regular customer.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: A loyalty club is really more about the deeper relationship. So I think some of our guests are here for the rewards.

Cliff Duvernois: okay. Interesting.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Some of them, many of them are here for the loyalty. The it’s deeper. It’s a deeper relationship. It’s not a one and out, cuz you could come stay here one time, have a big weekend, 30 get $40 in rewards, let’s say out of, uh, what your spend was.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And, but you don’t intend to stay overnight anymore, but you’re gonna maybe come through and have a chicken dinner. You’ll spend the whole 40 at Arian and chicken dinners, and maybe you’ll not even ever renew the club down the road and that’s it. You’re done. And there’s other people. I just met a guest that sadly, I didn’t know them very well.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: I’d heard the name, but not met them. They stayed here 186 times. in 30 years. Now that includes statistics before the loyalty club started. Cuz we had a software system going back, not all the way to the beginning, but they’d been staying before we could even count. So those are the ones we know about.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So you talk about relationships and loyalty. There are, it would, you would all wonder why would anyone stay in one place that frequently? And I don’t know the answer to that for that particular couple. They have family here, maybe.

Cliff Duvernois: I do I 

Cliff Duvernois: know 

Cliff Duvernois: the 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: answer. 

Cliff Duvernois: Pick me, pick me, pick me.

Cliff Duvernois: No, no, no, because this is a, this is a really good point. I mean, this is the same reason why, like there’s certain restaurants that I love to go to. And I always, by default I’ll drive by five or six other restaurants, because I know that when I go to that restaurant, I’m gonna have a good time. The food is gonna be phenomenal.

Cliff Duvernois: I’m gonna have, you know a killer view of the river, the lake, the stream, or whatever it is. And I know that if I take somebody. That they’re gonna have a good time as well. Right. So that’s the same kind of thing here. You’re talking about 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: you’re looking 

Cliff Duvernois: times 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: you 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: talk that way, cliff, you’re not looking for a

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: deal it’s beyond it’s beyond just getting 5% or whatever back it’s it’s also that it you want me to explain the mechanics of how the club works for the guest?

Cliff Duvernois: So, well, let’s think I wanna go back and, and touch on something here that you mentioned before, and then let’s talk about the mechanics behind it You were talking about the difference between rewards and loyalty. Now I never differentiated those two in my mind. Like, I’m always thinking of like last night I did grocery shopping and I will not name the name of the grocery store. Cause I’m trying to get them on the 

Cliff Duvernois: podcast but I went shopping and I got like $5 off my order. Right. So it’s like, you know, little, little dopamine hit right there in the store. 

Cliff Duvernois: I’m like, oh cool I get $5 off. You know, that was nice. And they’ll send me a coupon. Maybe once every two months or something else like that that says, Hey, we’ll give you a 50 cents off bananas cuz they know that I buy bananas, but your you’re talking about a loyalty program, which is really relationship driven.

Cliff Duvernois: And I’m, I’m fascinated by that topic. Can Can you dive a little bit more into 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: that 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yes Yes 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Talking about your grocery store analogy you said it, they’re trying to get a closer relationship with you.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: They’re trying it to be more loyalty and not just reward because they handed you discounts on things that they know you like to buy. Right, right. It’s a little packet of them. You get usually, right. You know, if it’s the same place I’m thinking, if you get 7, 8, 10 coupons in an envelope 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: and lo and behold, we have cats and we got cat litter 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: on the list you know, , I never get a German shepherd, food or something on there cuz we don’t have a dog.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And so they’re trying they’re trying to personalize and that’s another keyword in loyalty. You try to personalize your relationship with people within a loyalty club, but in the loyalty club world, They taught us. You should have you have hard benefits. You have soft benefits. Now a hard benefit is that reward.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: I give you, we give you 10% of, of your spend. Once you hit a certain threshold of dollars, we give you 10% back in the reward, on your card. And so other places might give you 5% or 4% for, grocery percentages. Aren’t that lucrative to be that high. Typically they’ll give you, but they give you a hard reward.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: That’s a hard benefit. The soft benefits are when you create maybe an activity or an event that isn’t purely a transaction. For example, we just got through the 4th of July weekend and for, I think at least 10 or 11 years now, we’ve offered. An exclusive location with exceptional view of the fireworks for perks members to come LA uh, out in the grass, in a fenced in area reserved for perks members, only our perks manager, Brandon was at the gate to greet you and see your card and confirm that you’re perks member.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And you had a chance to talk to the top guy that we’ve got running our loyalty club and he’s, uh, interacting. Folks. And over the years, Dorothy Zender are, who you’ve spoken of would come and visit with Judy and visit and interact with the guests and watch the fireworks with them. So what’s that worth to some people it’s worth nothing cuz they didn’t come.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: It doesn’t, it didn’t have enough value to attract them. They, you know, it’s a holiday, lots of people have a traditional plans, but a lot of other people, it. More valuable than any $20 certificate. And, uh, we had an anniversary in our 30th anniversary. We got out all the original blueprints from when we built and we invited perks members who used to come, came back in the beginning years.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We didn’t see, had to be the first year and we had, and we just had Ordos and non-alcoholic bubbly. and, uh, we, Judy and I had our hard hats on, and we had all the original blueprints laying out on tables and we just hung out with people and talked about it for about, it was a come and go reception. And we did it for three hours.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And then we, we did a few, a little bit of speaking on the subject, but there were. Two separate couples in that room that had stayed here on the first night we opened the, and we opened a, a few weeks earlier than originally planned. So we had no carpet in the hallways. We had no carpet in the lobby yet the furniture in the lobby hadn’t shown up.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So Judy brought her sofas from home, you know, put in the lobby on the concrete floor, but, you know, but. So we reminisced about those kind of stories and that stuff. Now that interaction to them was cool and fun and different. And so we’re trying to always blend in the loyalty world soft benefits and hard benefits.

Cliff Duvernois: Absolutely love that and what I would like to do well. So one of the things that it makes me think of is kinda like that first class experience. you’re You’re getting access to the special area. You could only get, if you get a membership, not everybody can, you know get in here and be able to do that. And I think right there, that alone creates a very special memory. Cuz a lot of people, know they’ll say, oh yeah, I went to the lodge and da da da.

Cliff Duvernois: But what they’ll tell their friends about is, oh, we were out there in that special area and we had front row seats to the 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yeah.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And here’s a picture of me with Judy and Dorothy Zender

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: There you go.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Right. And here’s the picture on my phone that we took as a group there with the 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: kids There we of A thing, and the, the airline industry has been on this. They’ve had tiered, there is tiered loyalty and, and we don’t have a tiered loyalty club, but that’s, it’s a little more complicated and we’re, we’re one of, we’re a very small loyalty club. We have. We we’re huge in the independent industry of lodging there, we don’t even know of another independent resort doing what we’re doing in America.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We have thir 30,000 paid members in the club, but if you’re talking about the club for an airline or the club for a grocery store, you’re talking, chain a regional or national chain you’re talking about, 8 million members or a hundred million in the airline industry could be a hundred million members.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And some of them are diamond and Pearl and all those different levels. Right. And so they get different exclusivity and it’s usually on the hard benefit side, but there are soft benefit sides too, of getting into the club for free and those kinds of things. So that whole rationale.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Of different rewards for the more you are loyal to us, the more we will reward you happens in that tiered loyalty club world. And that’s not something that can happen in an independent resort very much, cuz we’re just not that big. uh Compared to those big boys that are out there and that’s, what’s cool is we learn so much about marketing to people and about demographics from all these other players, cuz we’re part of a national association of loyalty clubs and we get to listen in as I’m I’m in on uh, monthly calls.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: where people from very high end brands, their loyalty managers are talking and I’m this little minnow amongst the whales, just absorbing everything that I can and how can that help our little independent resort? It’s a very, very powerful thing. And we were blessed to find a software that would even work with such a small club because we went and talked to many companies that did it at a national association.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: He said, and when you get to 2 million people, you can probably afford. In a club. Well, you know, we started with, with nothing and then we, we had gone to, we were doing this all on paper with paper certificates from 1999 till about seven years ago. And then we found a digital system that’s we’re like, we lack.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Like the big boys, we have a card and you take it over and you swipe it. And for rewards, you swipe it to track your purchases. Just like all the big boys. But we couldn’t find one, someone that would do that with someone that had back then about 18,000 members. Now we’re at 30,000, but we had 18,000. It was a difficult thing to try to act like a big boy loyalty club when you’re in this one little town 

Cliff Duvernois: all 

Cliff Duvernois: by 

Cliff Duvernois: yourself.

Cliff Duvernois: Right Well, the one thing too, and I wanna point this out is, you know, you were using the minnow and the whale analogy. The, the benefit of being the minnow is you are flexible. You are nimble, you can be very fast to implement versus the versus the whale, right? It’s slow, it’s lumbering. If you’re trying to change directions, it’s a lot of effort inside.

Cliff Duvernois: So that actually gives you a very strong advantage.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: You’re you’re very, uh, perceptive on that. That is so true. We, we contribute at those calls too, when we have them. And so more of these folks at a national level have heard our brand now and know, the people who are in Ohio, in Illinois, they all knew Frankenmuth and they would acknowledge to the others about, oh, this is the greatest place you gotta go there kind of a thing.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And which is humbling. But they’re all jealous on that respect that they have to figure out how to communicate to members in their stores, across the nation and get people to embrace people, to talk about the loyalty club. And we have to do that. And I have a whole marketing campaign inside and outside this building on how we promote our loyalty club and We can respond with things with our staff faster, cuz I can physically walk to every location from where I’m sitting within, you know, uh, one 10th of a mile we’re all within, pretty much that distance of the very in lodge.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So, uh, we are, we’re much more nimble. It’s still not easy. Cuz employees come in employees go and you have to repeat things and you have to keep finding, you know, promoting. But the, so many of our staff will really embrace the idea of plugging what the loyalty club’s all about to our members or to our guests that wanna become a.

Cliff Duvernois: Beautiful. I wanna chase down something. You’ve mentioned it a few times in here talking about paid versus not paid. programs. Yeah. 

Cliff Duvernois: And you’ve got a paid program, right.

Cliff Duvernois: So I will tell you this, you know based on, you know from my experience before, usually when I’ve got something that says, oh, you can join for 50 bucks a year or whatever it is, it’s usually in the trash. You guys implemented a paid program and it’s been a success. So talk to us a little bit about what were, what was your thinking behind that?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: The, uh, the concept was that we didn’t wanna just offer a discount to everyone that walked in the door. We didn’t want to offer a discount to everyone that found a coupon and a flyer that was mailed to them on with the Sunday newspaper back in the, those days, when we did those things, we wanted to truly figure out who embraces our brand and likes us.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And F frequently with some frequency, at least, uh, wants to visit us. Now, remember, they’re not all overnight guests, don’t this think hotel, there are hundreds while there are thousands of our perks members. Who’ve never stayed overnight here, but that’s because they live, within eight or 12 or 20 or 30 miles a year.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And they eat at their world, famous restaurant, maybe every other. Year round. So 26 times in a year, maybe they eat at that restaurant. And there are some people who just shop in a certain few of our stores over and over. Because we have some pretty cool stores. Like the Frankenmuth cheese house has cheeses.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So many it’s like grocery and a certain niche. Right. And they can get rewards for it. So the idea they embrace the idea of having relationships. We,

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: didn’t want a hundred thousand people cuz we couldn’t afford to mail on mailer to a hundred thousand free members. And when brag, they, we have, a hundred thousand free members or 80,000.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We wanted to figure out how many would willing to pay. And it was a whopping $10. It’s a $10 fee to join the club. And then to renew in your second year, it’s $6. It’s not asking a whole lot, but mind you, we were doing this in 1999 already. So $10 was a little more, that long ago than it is now.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And we haven’t raised the prices in this many years on the membership, but for your $10, you would receive a, all, you can eat family style, chicken dinner, which is our signature dinner at Bavarian and free in the month of your birthday as well.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: cool.

Cliff Duvernois: The 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: of that menu is nearly double the $10, but wait, there’s more, So does your spouse in the month of their birthday. So for that $10, you get two family style chicken dinners in the month of each of your, if you’re you both happen to have the same July birthday, you can come in the same time and both eat free if you are in different months. Well, you know, and you’re gonna maybe bring people along with you and maybe you’re not, but we know in the averages of celebrating birthdays, cuz we do a lot of birthday celebrating at our kinds of restaurants and in the overnight world that people bring other people.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So it’s. Common that two people come for birthday, it’s maybe six or seven or 10 people come for a birthday. So we can certainly justify giving something with a very significant value on it, to it. And then later we decided what other things can we do to that benefits us transactionally in some fashion, maybe, but really benefits the guests too.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And we determined our indoor miniature golf course is the slowest day by quite a. Was Wednesdays, middle that hump day, right? The middle of the week. And so we decided the perks club members can get free miniature play, miniature golf for free on any Wednesday of the year. We said, it says, in our terms, we could have an exception week, like if it was during a Christmas school break week or something, but we haven’t done it yet.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We’ve allowed every week of the year, so far. They end up maybe playing some video games and that some people have pizza and drinks afterwards or beforehand. And maybe some people don’t spend a penny, but they came in and they know what we are better because of it. So you know that those are all hard benefits, but they’re all things that you get for a whopping $10.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So the 10 that the $10 stops it from being a. A hundred or a 200,000 person club that we can’t. We still like to send paper newsletters out. We send out quarterly paper newsletters, plus we do everything digital and.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We have lots of loyalty members who are in their sixties, seventies, eighties, and they still like paper.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And they like paper to be able to show it to somebody else in the family. Look at the special room rates, just for perks members for the next three months. Here they are. And we can talk about when we wanna go, cuz it says which dates are, what. Rate kind of a deal. So that’s, that’s why we wanted, we’re happy at 30,000 members.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We’re happy at 25,000, we’ll be happy at 35,000 members. We’ll never be a hundred thousand paid. I don’t think just by the size of who we are 

Cliff Duvernois: right 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: in, one town, in, in little old Frankenmuth.

Cliff Duvernois: why don’t you talk to us a little bit, cuz you said uh I believe you said it was initially you had 18,000 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: when we were switching from paper, a paper loyalty club, where, where uh

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: we had to mail you your $20 certificates to getting digitized.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We were at about 18,000 members.

Cliff Duvernois: So what was it like to grow that and walk us through that a little bit about that process, cuz one day you started, you had zero

Cliff Duvernois: and 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: now 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: you’re 

Cliff Duvernois: at 

Cliff Duvernois: 30,000 mazel 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: what, 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: is 

Cliff Duvernois: what, know how did you grow that? I mean, that’s amazing.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yeah the idea is really. In, in the resort marketing world and the Disney folks and big brands do this all over.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: You have four walls marketing, your four walls marketing is everything that you do within your building to promote to people who are already here. So obviously if someone’s staying overnight, we’re gonna promote a restaurant or an upcoming festival or a, a certain, maybe it’s a bourbon dinner or something.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And we’re gonna promote those things to the guests who are here about coming back in the. And so that’s part of four wall’s marketing. So it’s the same way in marketing a loyalty club. Anyone who’s visited any casino anywhere has seen the signs everywhere and promoting to come and, get your free card and track and get free rewards and things like that.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And so, We wanted to internally start promoting it, but we did a mailing to like our chamber of commerce members and a lot of the traditional local people like joined on day one. There are still hundreds and hundreds of people from within five miles a year that joined the perks club in October of 1999 and have still been a member ever since.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: I didn’t mention, if you spent more than $500 in a year, your renewal’s.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So there is a free way to do this, but you’re showing it transactionally but it’s only six bucks if you spend less than $500. So it’s not that bad. Right. So we, we promoted internally to do it. We’ve you know, when the internet, came around and it was getting stronger in the early two thousands, and we, from the very beginning, we started promoting the idea of the perks club.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: It has its own webpage. It has its own URL for it. It has its own. App. It’s not a phone app. Well, it works on your phone too, but it’s not an app where you go upload an app. You just go to a website on your phone and you can enroll and you can check your points. You can do all those things now. 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Every employee here is wearing a asking about our perks club. So we have to teach them. At least to the point that they can give them initial pitch and hand them a flyer about the perks club. And if people are having a blast and they’re having a good time and, uh, they enjoy what’s happening within their family, remember it’s about their memories together.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We’re not here. We joke we’re frying chicken and making beds, but that’s not why they came here. It’s just to eat chicken and sleep. They came here to have an ex a memory within. As a couple or a bunch of couples or a family or a family reunion all those, this is really about consumer based loyalty.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: It’s not a convention loyalty kind of a thing where the meeting convention person gets something because of it. It’s, that’s different world, but it’s all about, wow. We had great memories here and we wanna start a tradition and we have hundreds Well, clearly thousands of families who have traditions of coming here, like every Thanksgiving or every car show for the last 20 years or every Bavarian festival.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: I still visit and hang out with a couple at our Bavarian festival that they’ve come all 35 years. We’ve been open every single year. And these usually stay four or five nights, which is longer than the festival. But they come from Sylvia, Ohio from a little farther way, but every year I don’t get once a year, but it’s five nights day and they’re here every year.

Cliff Duvernois: wonderful. Now with regards to cuz you, you brought up this interest to think about marketing and I have to ask this question because when you started talking about you get the, the free dinner uh the month of your birthday.

Cliff Duvernois: So I joined a rewards program. I’m not gonna call it loyalty. I’ll call it a rewards program with a restaurant in Saginaw. And that’s the only thing I remember is because 

Cliff Duvernois: I joined, I get a free meal for dinner. I never hear from them throughout the year. Never once have I got, they’ve got my email. Because when I’m checking out, they say, do you want a printed receipt or email it to me?

Cliff Duvernois: I say email. And I get that never hear from ’em. I, I, I could literally forgot about them until you just now brought it 

Cliff Duvernois: up. Yeah. 

Cliff Duvernois: Right Yeah So with regards to your emailing and, and touching out with this 30,000 people that you have, what does that model look like?

Cliff Duvernois: Cause obviously the more touch points you have, the more, you know, you’re gonna get people to come back to your 18 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yeah different right.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Well, when you join the loyalty club with our with the software it’s a company called snip loyalty. Snip, interactive, loyal is that who we work with? The basic thing is we need your email address, your first and last name and your birth. Day and your spouse, significant other’s birthday.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Those are the required fields. It’s optional to get your street address and your city and your state, your zip. We like that. because we offered to still snail mail you a newsletter four times a year. It used to be six times a year and we felt we don’t really need to do it that way as we become more and more digital it still goes in a PDF to everyone every quarter.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So there’s. For guaranteed emails. But then we’re also, it’s automated in the software to deal with your birthday. So you’re getting the reminder about 10 days before the beginning of the month of your birthday. With a link to a specific thing about how to redeem your family style chicken dinner reward at Bavarian in that’s automated, we don’t have to.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Customized in the software to do that. And it’s not 30 days after your birthday, it’s the month of your birthday. So if your birthday’s the end of may, it’s the whole month of may. It’s not from your birth birthday to the next 30 days out. It’s just the month of may. So all that’s automated and then they just do a redemption thing at, at our.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Rest big be and restaurant on main street to redeem those. And so, what’s cool. When you talk about that is I talk about personalizing. One of our 18 retail stores can choose and we really have this at that level, that departments and division managers can extract from the loyalty club and do things.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And we have a long ways to go, but this is I’ll give you examples of how sophisticated we can be. They can say, give me my top 100 loyalty club members who spent in my store. Last year and I wanna spend them send them a special coupon. It might be digital. It might be snail mail, right? Can be like we can do either unless their top 100, didn’t give their snail mail address and only gave email and then they’ll push that to them.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: So this is a loyalty club at every store level of every of the five restaurants and all of. All of Bavarian in retail stores separate from each other, or I can cluster ’em. I can re we could say if there’s, I believe there are five retail stores in the lower level of Bavarian in restaurant, we can meld that transactional data and tell you the top 100 for those stores together.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Now, if we wanna get more sophisticated, I, they could say and we could extract this little more work. Tell me all the people who stayed overnight at Bever and lodge. In the first three months of last year that didn’t spend in my store. And give me that list. So I know that they were here, but they didn’t come.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Or we can just do that. We can even do that just as a whole resort. We can say, Hey, these folks, haven’t come in the first quarter of the last two years. but they renewed, they they’re dining, but they’re not staying overnight. We can, it’s a much smaller group of people. Now, all of a sudden, you’re talking about, maybe you’re reaching out to 400 people or, a thousand people, not 30,000 people.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And so you can get more personalized with things. And we do know. To some extent on their databases if they come with kids or not. Cuz we say, how many adults, how many children yes. In your room reservation. So we can focus just on couples if we want to. So if we’re gonna do a bourbon dinner thing, maybe we’re gonna just market and promote that.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: We’re talking about a bourbon festival coming up next year. And so if we do that, that might be a situation where we’re just gonna push that out to the couples in the loyalty club and stronger in email and paper. and we’ll mention it in the overall newsletter. Nothing like getting inundated with something you’re not at all interested in if you’ve never, and I, I, we’re having an internal debate on this one.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: I’ll say, why do we wanna send newsletter paper newsletters to the, for the first quarter when. Maybe 2000 of the 30,000 people have never, ever, ever visited us in the first quarter. Why should we waste our time and effort and their viewership of having to throw that away? yeah Let’s just not send it to them.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And then there’s, well, maybe we’ll convince them that they’ll come this time, you know, so yeah. Have those kind of debates. They’re like, oh man, we might convince them finally. Yeah. But they have never done it before. They always come at, uh, you know, Octoberfest. They don’t come in the first quarter. So, uh, so we can market to in very focused ways.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: By extrapolating data from cuz we know ’em transactionally and we know them by date of when they visit and we know how frequently they visit. I don’t spend a lot of time and effort trying to get someone who stays has stayed historically with us 20 or 60 or a hundred times to come one more time. It’s really more who stayed once and we can get ’em a second time and who stayed two or three times and we can get ’em one more.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yes, one more time. And that’s true, whether they’re a loyalty club member or not, of course, uh there’s, there’s lots of people that just don’t join clubs. And, uh, but there’s still, there’s probably some folks who are very loyal and they don’t join. Uh, they don’t just wanna bother with clubs. It does. It’s not important to them to do that.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And they’re not in it for the reward they’re in it, you know, but they just have fun and they’re here, so,

Cliff Duvernois: and you bring up a good point too, that this was something I saw in some, I think it was the bar rescue show on TV. And I can’t remember that cat’s name, but he was talking to the owners of this bar.

Cliff Duvernois: They served food and he told them that their whole mission in life was to get people, to show up three times. And it’s statistics show that if you get somebody to show up more than three times, you’ve got them for life. It sounds like this is what you’re doing as well. When you’re going out and targeting the person that stayed there one time.

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah. 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Yeah What 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: can 

Cliff Duvernois: we do to get them to come back for another, visit another stay?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Well, and that’s a, a good segue into the idea that you don’t build a loyalty club. If you have below average service and below average amenities. Yes. If you do those things, you will epically fail. You have to be on, on your game at minimum on your game, and you should be on top of your game, big time. And we always think we can do better every single day.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And there are times that guests feel we fail and then that’s very infrequent, but it happens. And it happens anywhere when you’re trying to reach high everyone’s perception of. Uh, great value is and a great experiences varies. Uh, and when they get here, they might be disenchanted. Some people call our theme kitchy.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: I, I kind of like the word kitchy, cuz maybe we are kitchy. but we’re trying to help you escape to, to a Bavarian going to Germany. You feel like you’re going to Germany, but you didn’t have to get a passport. Right. And it was a lot more affordable to come to Frankenmuth, Michigan than to go to Munich, Germany.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: But when it comes to, that relationship with people. You just have to, um, keep trying to make sure you’re on top of your game with all levels of service in dining and in how you treat people face to face one on one. And we have to do that with the employee that just started a week ago.

Cliff Duvernois: oh yeah 

Cliff Duvernois: exactly every 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: There’s a new employee every week. nice 

Cliff Duvernois: the 

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: never ends training, never ends.

Cliff Duvernois: So, Jim, if somebody’s listening to this podcast, uh, they want to, you know, connect with you. Maybe they want to check out the, the loyalty program, which by the way, I learned a lot about today.

Cliff Duvernois: So thank you for that. But if they wanna check it out, where, where can they go?

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Uh, Bavarianperks.com is one site. Also. They just go to our overall BavarianInn.com site. They’ll see the loyalty club on just about every page and the site mentioned, from there, you can look at dining. Versus lodging versus shopping. Maybe you’re close by and you just wanna come and shop.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: You know, we have ladies clothing stores and we have, food related stores, like the cheese house and the jerky joint, which is a very small store, but has a massive volume of that one kind of subject. And they have sausages and a little bit of cheese and other things and pickled stuff, but they’re really all about.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Jerky. And so there’s a lot of people who are just a niche things here that they’re passionate about with us, because some of our stores are within that, that Franken wood river place shops that we help operate. And then somewhere on main street. And then the lower level Bavarian is a retail and the lodge has two retail stores.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: Many people come into play like video games at the lodge and miniature golf. They’re not overnight guests and that’s become more true. Going through the pandemic that people were looking for more things to do and were going bonkers. We took our video games outdoors during the pandemic in the

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: summer Yes you did.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: And, uh, and then we brought them back in and ever since there’s proportionally a huge volume, more of people who are coming in from the outside every week and every weekend. So it almost skews our in-house data. Cuz we take our revenues in that area and we divide it by the room sold and it’s like, These people aren’t spending all that money.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: There’s a bunch of new people coming in and we can’t tell which ones are which but thank you. Yes. We’re. We try to stay on top of being updated on those websites. And we’re very, very proud of our loyalty club because we really are amongst ourselves in the industry on the independent resort world of having a loyalty club.

Cliff Duvernois: Exactly. And for our audience, we will have all those links in the show notes down below. Jim. It’s been awesome having you on the podcast today. Thank you very much. Like I said before, I’ve learned a truckload today, so thank you for 

Cliff Duvernois: that.

Jim Engel, Bavarian Inn Lodge: My pleasure, my pleasure. And if anyone listens to this and you stop at B Verian lodge, ask me at the front desk, then we’ll, I’ll tell cliff that you listened.

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