The ongoing struggle for booking supremacy between hotels and the online travel agencies is forcing hoteliers to reevaluate their loyalty rewards programs. The points-based rewards offered by hotels are no longer adequate enough to earn the continuous brand loyalty of their guests. To gain and keep the traveling public’s loyalty, hoteliers must be more innovative in their approach with an emphasis on relationship building. Successfully transforming a customer into a brand advocate, one who will encourage others to stay with a particular hotel, requires going further than offers of a free night stay.
Customer Relationship Building
The economic benefits for travelers of free giveaways and discounts from hotels cannot be denied. Particularly in regards to newer loyalty program members, financial rewards do effectively begin the relationship building process. New guests have trust in the brand and commitment to the program instilled in them through financial rewards. However, creating a true relationship, one which will result in sustained brand advocacy, demands making each and every guest feel uniquely special in the eyes of the hotel.
To instill those emotions in their guests, hoteliers should focus their efforts on perks that will feel inclusive. Generate enthusiasm among guests with offers as simple as Wi-Fi, movies, or even room upgrades when availability allows. Guests also love to be rewarded with the gift of complimentary services such as salon or spa treatments. Some hotels are now even trading unforgettable experiences for the brand devotion of their guests. Hotels can partner with local area venues for sports, concerts, or excursions. Memories of amazing experiences will last much longer than the memory of a free room night.
Hotels can do much to make loyalty club members feel welcome before, during, and after their stay. Invite all first time guests to join the hotel’s loyalty program in advance of their stay, along with an invitation to the hotel’s online social channels. Encourage participation in feedback to the hotel at any time during or after their experience. Upon arrival, members should be welcomed with expedited check-in or even extended check-out times as well.
In the end, the most effective hotel rewards programs offer a well balanced approach composed of both financial benefits and customer relationship building measures. Both of which will develop true hotel brand advocates out of guests. These guests will both sustain and grow the hotel’s reputation into the future.
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