Mandarin Oriental Hotel Debuts Significantly Different Type of Loyalty Program

In a departure from traditional hotel loyalty programs, Mandarin Oriental Hotel's "Fans of MO" program offers members perks instead of points. Free to join, the program automatically offers members free WiFi, a welcome amenity, a personalized stay and access to unique and exclusive experiences and offers for members only. The program also allows members to choose two additional "privileges" during their stay if they book through the company's website. These include: early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, a dining or spa credit, a room upgrade, streaming WiFi, a celebratory treat, and pressing services at their laundry.

Some might think that Manadarin Oriental is entering the loyalty rewards program late in the game. However, Hospitality Technology's 2018 Lodging Technology Study found that 46% of hoteliers name enhancing digital experiences for guests and loyalty as a strategic goal in 2018, making it the No. 1 goal mentioned within the study. This is true for both hotels that describe themselves as innovators or laggards. The reason for this is that ample online inventory allows guests to price shop and puts the pressure on hotels to push boundaries to win and retain guests. In fact, there has been a flurry of activity with hotels revamping loyalty programs to appeal to the experience-driven nature of guests. This is likely because research reveals that rewards members often book longer stays than non-loyalty members.

Best Western Hotels & Resorts conducted a study of 1000 hotel loyalty program users to gather insight into how today’s travelers make loyalty decisions. Expiration of points, ease of point redemption, guaranteed room availability and brand trust emerged as top factors. In response, Best Western revamped its Best Western Rewards (BWR) program in 2017 to make redeeming rewards easier for guests with a digital membership card.

Interestingly, the problems that larger chains are facing with legacy point systems are a non-issue for Mandarin Oriental. For instance, without a points system, Mandarin Oriental doesn't need to worry about upsetting guests with point accrual or expiration – nor do they need to find ways to make point redemption easier. Plus, many of the upgrades offered by larger hotel chains after accumulation of specific amounts of points come standard with enrollment in Fans of MO. This could be a tactical advantage that Manadrin Oriental thought through prior to creating the loyalty program that will actually increase loyalty due to ease-of-use.

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