In my opinion, hotel reward programs are at the top of the "rewards point hierarchy" (assuming such a list exists). They are just so coveted by all consumers (myself included). Even credit card companies and other major brand establishments seem to want some kind of partnership.
The development of a comprehensive loyalty program for any business - let alone one in the service industry - isn't an easy endeavour, especially since there are some many variables to consider. Thankfully with technology, it has gotten a whole lot easier to formulate plans that are encompassing and profitable.
While there is no set prescription for putting together the perfect hotel rewards program (it's a "different strokes for different folks" situation), there are certain characteristics that such establishments should consider when designing a rock-solid hotel reward plan.
1. Flexibility in the "How" and "What" of the Loyalty Policy
Traditionally, the mechanics of how hotel loyalty schemes worked was very set: you had to accumulate a certain number of points to merit a free stay at the hotel.
Over the last couple years, many hoteliers are beginning to loosen up and are more flexible in what rewards they offer and how patrons go about earning them.
In today's climate of ever evolving change (which requires companies to be nimble), it is important for hotels to have the capability to adapt and construct a rewards program that is beneficial to both the establishment and their guest's needs.
The reason being that they (the customers) are more likely to spend more and make more repeat booking.
2. The Power of Complimentary Bonuses
Everyone love the idea of being given additional perks - especially those that are free. It is important for hotels to include some "soft benefits" to their loyalty programs. Some of which can include services like complimentary shuttle rides, WiFi or goodie bags.
Despite seeming small (or insignificant), these soft benefits go a long way. Not only does it encourage customers to sign up for the loyalty scheme itself, but it can also be an excellent differentiation strategy for boutique hotels and other independent establishments.
3. Make Sure The Benefits Are Layered
When designing your hotel loyalty program, it is important to ensure that you have a tiered or leveled approach with the rewards.
While it is important to show new guests what perks they get for signing up, it is also crucial to highlight what benefits loyal customers get. This way, the new patrons are motivated not only to sign up but also to stay on.
4. Know Your Guests Well
It is important to note that a rewards program is ever evolving and never static. Hotels need to ensure that they continue to glean as much information as they can about their customers, to understand their requirements and preferences and inject those details into the ongoing development of their rewards program.
Written by Ross Fastuca @Locomote