Being loyal pays – at least, for hotels. About 18% of frequent travelers will choose a hotel brand based on its loyalty program. And once they’re loyal, they’re gems. The same study revealed that frequent travelers are willing to spend an extra $41 per night to stay a hotel if they’re a part of the loyalty program.
So, how can your hotel loyalty programme win the hearts of travellers around the world?
Here are three keys points to remember when working on your loyalty programme.
A discount for loyalty members is great, but not always enough enough to convince guests to stay with your hotel. That’s why when Hyatt launched an up to 10% discount for loyalty members who book directly through their website, they also added a few other features that customers had been asking for.
By listening to their customers needs – such as requests for online express check-in and 24/7 customer service via phone or social media – they made the loyalty program much more valuable. In fact, Hyatt was the first travel company to use Facebook for Business Messenger to address guests’ customer service issues directly. And, it paid off: in a year, Hyatt doubled signups to their loyalty program.
In 2014, Marriott and Starwood launched a program offering free WiFi for loyalty members who book directly on their website. Free WiFi always comes up as the most valuable hotel amenity and the deciding factor for travelers when choosing hotels.
The best way to find out what benefits your customers care about more than others is to listen to the reviews they’re leaving you and on third-party travel websites. Rather than scanning through thousands of reviews to find out exactly which benefits travelers want, a meta review service like TrustYou can make it easy to categorise reviews into the core topics that matter most to your hotel: location, service, wellness, etc.
An overwhelming 75% of OTA bookers believe that OTAs offer cheaper prices than hotels, which is why they book this way. So while offering discounts in loyalty programmes is great, if consumers still believe they can find a better price elsewhere on the web, you’ll lose them. This is why price transparency is so important.
Price Check widgets instantly compare the hotel price to three OTAs, and studies show that that if the hotel price is the same price as the OTA, 65% of consumers would choose to book directly with the hotel.
When Hyatt launched its campaign offering discounted rates to loyalty members who book directly, it was not simply to reduce their dependency on OTAs and the costs that come with it but also to gather data about their customers’ preferences to improve the guest experience – information they can only get when they book direct. Therefore, transparency played a more significant role than just direct bookings, but also helped to improve upon their overall loyalty program.
Another misconception consumers have about loyalty programmes, is that they’re signing up for a headache. Lots of forms to fill in, and will they get charged to be a part of this programme.
Most loyalty programmes are totally free to join, and require the same about of details to fill in as a regular hotel booking. It’s important to communicate on this so guests feel reassured.
So what’s the key takeaway here? The value of loyalty programs is not just about cost savings. Rather, the most successful loyalty programs are ones that understand their guests’ needs and desires and make an effort to be transparent in the booking process.
We won’t be surprised if soon we see hotels offer free Netflix access in the future...