Unique, complimentary amenities can attract new patrons to a hotel. However, loyalty programs remain among the most effective means of generating repeat business from customers.
A recent survey found that more than 70 percent of business travelers paid attention to loyalty programs when booking their business travel. Additionally ,more than 50 percent said they would consider booking at a non-approved venue to stay at a hotel that provided them with points.
In the United States, a full quarter of travelers say that the ability to earn rewards points has been the deciding factor in where to book. About half say they only consider booking rooms where there is a loyalty program.
Moving forward, the question may largely be which hotel has the best loyalty program.Some of the more creative loyalty program offerings include:
1. Immediate Perks
Hotels can use the promise of immediate perks to get people to sign up for their loyalty programs and learn more about what they might earn in the future. For example, hotels might offer complimentary internet only for those customers who have registered for the loyalty program or they may offer a free room service meal for signing up.
One hotel chain allows new members to choose two bonuses from a list that includes spa credits, late checkouts, free breakfast, and complimentary laundry service. These immediate perks get customers engaged and help build brand loyalty.
2. Straightforward Rewards
A number of loyalty programs currently in operation provide rather complicated rewards with different points earned depending on status. These systems can become so convoluted that customers stop really paying attention to them, especially if they do not travel very frequently.
Smaller operations may want to offer more straightforward rewards, such as a free night for every 10 nights booked. Putting some limitations on rewards helps address issues that might arise. However, this sort of simple program gives people a clear sense of how far away they are from a big reward, such as a free night.
3. Special Members-Only Offers
A loyalty program does not need to limit its benefits to those who have earned a certain number of points. To show appreciation, hotels can offer special amenities throughout the year to individuals who belong to the loyalty program.
For example, for a certain weekend, loyalty members who book a stay could receive a free massage or some other perk. This can quickly drive booking rates while building customer loyalty. A few such offers throughout the year can keep customers connected to the brand while offering them a valuable perk.
4. Passport Programs
As hotels expand, they can facilitate loyalty through passport programs. These programs reward individuals who stay at branded properties in different cities.
Recently, a hotel in Tampa Bay gave its guests a passport during their first stay. If the guest stayed at two other properties in different cities under the same brand within 18 months, they earned a free night in a new city.
This sort of reward is plain and simple while encouraging people to always look for a specific brand when they travel. Furthermore, these programs afford hotels the opportunity to showcase their consistency across properties to guests.
5. Constellation Programs
By joining with other brands, smaller families of hotels can offer loyalty programs that provide worthwhile value to guests. This gives guests a variety of options when they travel, especially to different cities across the nation and around the world.
Hotels may want to think outside of the box. Partnering with other boutique hotel chains may seem the most obvious option. However, partnerships can also include companies in other industries, such as airlines, train operators, or even restaurants.
6. Exchangeable Points
A number of the larger hotel companies have diversified their loyalty programs. They do so by partnering with other organizations and providing customers a range of options when it comes to redeeming their points.
One of the exchanges that has generated a lot of buzz is the ability to redeem hotel points to purchase flights and vice versa. That way, people can cover their entire vacations using points.
However, other options exist. For example, perhaps a hotel could partner with high-profile restaurants to let guests redeem their points for a memorable meal. Partnerships with museums and entertainment venues could also provide value.
7. Direct-Book Perks
Increasingly, customers are booking services to reserve rooms for their trips. These deals can cut into the bottom line by diverting some of the money that would otherwise go to the hotel. Brands can address this issue by creating a loyalty program that offers perks for direct bookings.
These perks can be very simple, such as a gift card for a nearby coffee shop or a rideshare service, or more elaborate like a free meal. Most people will book directly to get the perk. This brings more money to the hotel while strengthening the customer’s connection to the brand.