Operators Are Struggling to Find Relevance Among Younger Guests that Demand More Personalized Incentives and Experiences
Oracle announced the findings of a global study titled “The Loyalty Divide, Operator and Consumer Perspectives, Hotels 2018” auditing consumer perceptions and hospitality brand realities of loyalty programs and influences. “The Loyalty Divide” reveals that hotel operators believe they offer personalized and relevant rewards while consumers disagree and look to social influencers for aspirational recommendations that drive their travel experience.
Hotels believe that guests would openly sign up to every loyalty program (61 percent) compared to the reality that consumers are much more selective and look for programs with real relevance: 30 percent rarely join loyalty programs, 46 percent only sign up to select relevant programs and 24 percent sign up to every loyalty program. The divide between brand offerings and consumer perception is more apparent when evaluating relevance with 54 percent of hotels believing their offers are mostly relevant while only 22 percent of guests believe those offers are mostly relevant and 39 percent feel those offers are rarely relevant. Alarmingly hotel brands do not currently engage influencers (62 percent) or brand ambassadors (71 percent) despite consumers clearly indicating they are more likely to trust recommendations by YouTubers (43 percent) and influencers (37 percent).
The study was conducted in February 2018 among 13,000 consumers and 500 businesses across retail, hotels and restaurants in 9 countries across North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, UK, and USA.
Navigating the New Loyalty Paradigm
The Future of Loyalty
Although there is a clear disconnect between hotel brands and guests on the relevancy and efficacy of loyalty programs, properties should remain optimistic with younger demographics noting the highest propensity to join loyalty programs and say their loyalty is growing.
- 38 percent of millennials (25-34) and 32 percent of pre-millennials (18 to 24) note they are more loyal to hotel brands than before.
- 29 percent of millennials plan to sign up to every loyalty program while baby boomers (55+) are more discerning with 40 percent of respondents noting they will only sign up to select, relevant programs.
- 40 percent of retailers will only take into account activity measures of loyalty (customer surveys, loyalty card data, transaction data, etc.)
The Rise of Social Advocacy
Social media and online review sites continue to have a growing influence on guest choice as their digital peers highlight unique and memorable experiences.
- 57 percent of guests are likely to research brands on social media before buying
- 56 percent are likely to share photos of hotel experiences on social media
- 48 percent are likely to feature the hotel on social media in exchange for a reward
- 46 percent are likely to link social media activity to a rewards program with automatic rewards for posts
- 43 percent of guests agree that YouTube reviews are more trustworthy than branded advertising or communications
- 37 percent of consumers agree that hotels used and recommended by social media influencers are more trustworthy than those recommended by celebrities
Personalization: Connected and Immediate
For hotel guests, personalization is fundamentally about being recognized by hotel staff with relevant connections to amenities and experiences combined with convenience.
- 69 percent of guests note personalized offers based on stated preferences as appealing
- 65 percent of guests note a more personal service from staff is appealing
- 65 percent of guests note personalized offers based on purchase history are appealing
- 78 percent of guests note immediate benefits are more appealing than accumulating points
- 75 percent of guests note a single loyalty program that can be used at a range of brands is appealing
- 73 percent of guests note a loyalty program with frequent rewards that are not dependent on earning points is appealing
The Role of Technology
Technology can enable connection and convenience for hotel guests by providing solutions that enable exceptional customer service through tools that are familiar and make experiences easier and quicker.
- 90 percent of guests note being able to accept or reject offers so that the hotel loyalty program can learn what products and offers are of most interest as appealing
- 90 percent of guests note a personalized experience from hotel staff that understand unique preferences and can show guests relevant excursions, recommendations and offers as appealing
- 88 percent of guests note that a mobile app that supports check-in, checkout and provides relevant and personalized information about the hotel as appealing
- 87 percent of guests note the ability to explore hotel rooms through Virtual Reality before deciding on which hotel to stay in or which room to choose as part of the booking process as appealing
Four Loyalty Archetypes to Anticipate
The Hotels 2018: The Loyalty Divide uncovered four archetypes of guest behavior including: The Broadcaster who may flit between brands but shouts about their experiences good or bad; The Enthusiast, an engaged hotel brand follower who is loyal but not loud; The Lazy Loyal, typically unengaged but tends to be loyal to hotels because it’s easy to be; and, The Seeker who likes to shop around for the best value and holds little affinity to brands.
- 33 percent of guests will recommend to others the hotels they are most loyal to
- 1 in 3 (38 percent) will rave about a great hotel experience online
- 14 percent of guests are driven to build a high status on social media and review sites
- 38 percent would submit a product review through YouTube in exchange for an offer/reward
- 38 percent of consumers are most loyal to brands that they have a high opinion of
- 19 percent will follow their favorite brands on social media
- 65 percent say excellent facilities and 51 percent say exceptional service are most important to them
- 41 percent say it’s important that they can engage with new and exciting features in hotels they are loyal to
The Lazy Loyal
- 63 percent say ‘desirable location’ is most important to them
- 1 in 3 (33 percent) will typically stick to the brands they like rather than shop around
- 1 in 6 (15 percent) are unlikely to read reviews before going to stay at a hotel
- 86 percent think it would be appealing for staff to have access to a mobile device or tablet so they can offer services from anywhere
- 66 percent choose a hotel because of competitive price/promotion
- 55 percent would exchange personal details in exchange for a personalized offer or promotion
- 59 percent of guests would always ‘shop around’ for different hotels to stay at
- Almost 1 in 3 (30 percent) would rarely sign up to hotel loyalty programs