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It’s Time to Rethink Hotel Guest Loyalty

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Today, the hospitality market is more competitive than ever before. With large and small groups competing to attract repeat guests and drive direct bookings, it’s time for all hoteliers to rethink their loyalty programs -- targeting guests with what they really want.

Over one third of hotel guests believe hotel loyalty programs are rarely relevant to them, and this is a huge issue. Today’s consumers want personalization in every aspect of their lives, especially in their hospitality, dining and travel experiences. It’s clear that hotels need to rethink their approach in order to catch guests’ attention, drive return visits and encourage positive reviews and referrals -- and it all starts with loyalty.

Get to Know Your Guest

Thinking about personalizing your hotel’s loyalty program should start with getting to know your guests. Find out more about what food and beverage offerings they like, whether they have any allergies or dietary preferences, what activities and experiences they enjoy most, and whether they typically travel with family or as a couple for personal trips or solo for business (to name a few). This will arm you with insight into what they value and how you can provide the exact experience they want when staying at your property.

Employing the right guest engagement software is also crucial to collecting and organizing this data in a way that allows hotels to easily reference and develop highly-personalized loyalty programs. This way, guests are targeted with information they actually care about -- like a special tasting menu, a family-friendly cooking class, a curated selection of snacks in the mini bar or maybe even a welcome cocktail upon arrival. When a hotel knows exactly what a guest wants, this ultimately can foster loyalty by making the guest feel valued at every interaction.

Another key to loyalty perks and programs that will drive repeat guests and direct bookings is authenticity. Marketing and loyalty efforts can often come across as inauthentic. However, when hotels take the time to get to know their guests and use that data to customize their marketing materials and loyalty plans with the guests’ needs top of mind (e.g. not sending a couple-focused offering to a business traveler), the results will benefit both the guest and the company’s bottom line.

The Importance of Personalization

For years, hotel loyalty programs followed a one-size-fits-all approach. And with 65% of consumers saying they actively engage with fewer than half their loyalty programs, these programs are falling by the wayside while innovative hotels are creating customized loyalty programs that go beyond discounted stays to include benefits at their properties’ restaurants & bars. This, in turn, is generating new incentives for guests to stay and play.

While everyone is interested in earning loyalty points and free nights, there are far more personalized opportunities to keep guests engaged. If a guest travels solo for work, the hotel can offer a late checkout or free breakfast. If they’re traveling with their family, offer a discount on a second room or local attraction, and if a couple is celebrating their anniversary, you can prep the room with a complimentary bottle of champagne or special turndown amenities.

These simple, yet personalized perks will go the extra mile to enhance the guest experience. Maintaining authenticity and understanding that every guest values different perks will allow your hotel to create a unique and memorable loyalty program that will keep guests coming back.

  • About the Author

    Joel Montaniel is the CEO & Co-Founder of SevenRooms, a data-driven hospitality platform that combines operations, marketing and guest engagement tools, where he leads business strategy and sales. Prior to founding SevenRooms in 2011, Montaniel served as the Chief of Staff at LivePerson, leading strategic, operational and cultural initiatives. He started his career at Credit Suisse within the Real Estate, Finance & Securitization Group. He graduated with a B.A. from Georgetown University.

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