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September 12, 2019

Hotel Loyalty Programs: Build your own.

Wrapping up this series looking at hotel loyalty programs we're going to take what we've seen from do's and don'ts, elements of successful programs, some truly creative thinking and see how to put it all together and build a loyalty program that works for you.

First, make sure that you have a clear, consistent points system and three or four tiers of membership. "Establish a tiered points system, the more points they earn, the bigger the prize they can receive, such as free room upgrades or complimentary nights," National Pen writes, and "introduce a few surprises as a form of thanks. This could be an upgrade to a suite, a complimentary bottle of champagne, or a free dinner with a guest in your hotel restaurant. Consider what makes sense financially for your company and set a points scale in place."

Second, keep it as personal as possible without being creepy or invasive. Get to know your guests' personal likes and dislikes, and shape your offerings to them based on what you think they would personally be interested in. This means you need a good system for collecting and analyzing guest data. There are some general principles -- business travelers want flexible check-in times, leisure guests like discounts on local attractions -- but make the effort to tailor loyalty offerings to individual preference.

Third, be creative. In addition to room upgrades, free breakfasts, complimentary laundry, airport pickups and other standard perks, think of interesting local lifestyle experiences you can offer guests that they probably wouldn't be able to get on their own, such as sessions with artists, musicians or chefs, or tours of places not generally open to the public. Partnering with other local hospitality businesses works well here.

And above all, keep is simple. Guests lose interest in loyalty programs that are confusing and hard to understand. It should be clear how points are earned and crystal-clear what points can be redeemed for.

Ultimately, you're making your property stand out not just from the other hotels in the area, but the ones your guest has loyalty cards for. Get them to make that extra drive in the rain past their properties to get to yours.