Five Things Your Hotel Loyalty Program Should be Doing Now

Sep 3, 2013

Regardless of the season, hotels should be focused on getting maximum engagement and ROI from their loyalty programs. Although my recent article in Hotel Business Executive, Hotel Loyalty Rebirth: Five Things Your Loyalty Program Should Be Doing Now focused on the summer months, hotels should be engaging their guests and creating loyalty programs that connect on more personal levels year round.

Where to start? Here are some factors to consider:

1. Engage Guests on Multiple Channels. Today’s channel proliferation and high mobile device adoption rates make it easier than ever to attract, engage and retain guests. However guests, while increasingly tech-savvy, still crave personal one-on-one connections.

2.  Offer Genuine Experiences that Trump Rewards. Fostering genuine, personalized experiences inside and outside of the hotel experience is critical. Too many travelers already feel that their hotel loyalty program is indistinguishable from competitors. Hotels must get creative, offering rewards like discounted or free daytrip excursions, concert tickets, access to wine tastings, city nightlife, restaurants and retail opportunities.

3.  Consider Multi-Tender Options to Improve Flexibility. If your hotel loyalty program is operating in an omnichannel fashion, toggling between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, why shouldn’t it also give guests’ program interactions maximum flexibility? Multi-tender loyalty means expanding points accumulation beyond a branded or co-branded credit card.

4.  Merge CRM and Loyalty Management Software for More Granular Guest Insights. Loyalty programs and the information they collect are often more effective at discerning guest psychographic data: how do they wish to be engaged, which channels do they prefer, what specifically makes them loyal and what experiences will help them become ambassadors who promote a hotel brand long after their stay? The more data collected from various sources, the more accurate the picture of individual guests’ preferences.

5.  Combine Existing Loyalty Programs with Others in Related Verticals. Aggregation is my final recommendation because it may be challenging to implement. The hospitality industry is known for its aggressive brand pride. And the idea of sharing customers between loyalty programs might cause C-level backlash. After all, the goal of a hotel’s loyalty program is not to fill a competitor’s pockets. But just as guests use their smart mobile devices for a host of functions, they want that same level of seamlessness and one-stop efficiency from their loyalty programs.

There’s also Kobie’s “5 E’s” to consider: Enterprise, Economics, Enablement, Execution and Engagement. Enterprise speaks to the organizational readiness to make loyalty an enterprise-level initiative, economics concerns the cost and benefits of generating such loyalty, enablement relates to the mechanics and technology running the program, execution refers to its real-time deployment and operational effectiveness and engagement relates to the brand relationship customers seek.

The bottom line really is about making genuine engagement and experiences a priority which, in turn, can help hotel brands ensure their guests go home with positive memories that linger year round and have them coming back for more.

You can read my full article, “Hotel Loyalty Rebirth: Five Things Your Loyalty Program Should Be Doing Now” and share your thoughts with us at