Put simply, a hotel loyalty program is a marketing strategy designed to encourage repeat customers. This can be from earning points for each stay or purchase, users can then use these points for rewards such as gift vouchers or free night stays.
Loyalty programmes are an excellent incentive for users to stay loyal to your brand or business and keep them engaged and coming back for more!
1. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A LOYALTY PROGRAM?
There are a variety of benefits to a loyalty program, both for the customer and for the business alike. Loyalty programs really are a win-win!
Loyalty programs can:
- Show customer appreciation
- Encourage repeat business
- Improve customer retention
- Increase the lifetime value of customers
- Increase revenues
- Encourage direct bookings in hotels
- Be a point of differentiation or unique selling point between you and your competitors
- Allow for collection of data that can be utilised by your business to provide insights for marketing and for improved personalised customer experience
- Strengthen and promote customer relationships
- Encourage social sharing and EWOM – incentivise customers to share your content and brand!
Tip : Brands can expand their customer knowledge base through a collection of data and can add to these insights and customer preferences by conducting surveys and asking for feedback, reviews, etc from their customer in return for points.
2. HOW DO LOYALTY PROGRAMS BENEFIT THE CUSTOMERS?
Loyalty programs are a great way for your brand to show your customers that you value their business.
Loyalty programs can reward their members in many ways:
- Complementary services or upgrades
- Special discounts towards their next purchase
- Points programs and redemption options
- Membership perks – such as late checkout, room priority, or a free drink on arrival
- Personalised experiences both online and in real life
But the best loyalty program is more than just the perks provided, it’s also about the experience and value they create for the customer. They should make the customer feel good about purchasing from you, for example instead of focusing your loyalty program around discounts and points you could focus your offering around a good cause that your customers may respond to and resonate with.
Your brand could partner with a charity or non – profit and customers could opt to “donate” the value of their points.
3. WHAT NOT TO DO WITH YOUR LOYALTY PROGRAM:
- Don’t pretend you actually reward & make sure there’s a return! Don’t give the customer rewards they don’t really want – give them valuable rewards that they value. With Rewards From Us To You members can earn free nights stays in exchange for points in ANY property through the loyalty program. This could allow a customer visit a new part of the world and create fond memories all thanks to your rewards program.
- Don’t make it complicated – keep it simple and seamless and user friendly. Ever heard the phrase time is money my friend?!
If your loyalty program is not quick and simple to use, your customer could be left annoyed. A negative association with your loyalty programme could easily have negative effects on the user choosing to book with you again.
Loyalty members want excellent customer service and a simple process for their perks. Don’t make it difficult to claim their reward!
- Don’t ignore personalisation possibilities – effective loyalty programs should be capable of using customer data to provide personalised communications to loyalty members. These communications could come in the form of emails, offers, or relevant suggestions. Personalisation of communication is becoming an expectation for the loyal customer, they know their data is being collected and they want it put to good use! A study from Marketo found that 79% of customers only engage with a brand if the offer has been personalised! Segment your customer lists and utilise this data to customise the experience for the customer both online and offline. Data such as email, demographics, purchase history, loyalty program activity should all be collected and utilised to provide an expected personalised loyalty experience.
TIP: Remembering always that your loyalty program is an extension of your Brand and should have a coherent brand message and favourably influence your brand reputation.
4. HOW CAN YOU START A LOYALTY PROGRAMME?
For smaller independent hotels the costs of investing in loyalty software can cost thousands. Rewards From Us To You – our sister company- is a loyalty programme that gives small or independent hotels the chance to create their own chain of rewards hotels.
Author Bio: Katie McGarr is one of the resident writers for SPRINT DIGITAL Agency Dublin, a firm offering an extensive range of digital marketing and website services to businesses across UK, Ireland, and Continental Europe. She enjoys sharing her insights about blogging, web design, SEO, and other forms of digital marketing.