Does your hotel participate in a customer loyalty program? I’m impressed at what lengths some hotel companies go to in order to earn and maintain guest loyalty. Generally, there are two aspects to these types of programs – recognition and rewards.
I’m the type of guy who prefers “recognition with perks”. For example, when I’m flying, I’m perfectly happy getting “bumped up” to first class or having priority check-in to avoid the long lines at the airport. I really don’t need the miles I earn from free travel. Trust me, the last thing I want to do when I take some time off is to get on an another airplane, rent another car, and check in to yet another hotel. I already do this about 40 weeks per year. I do, however, like feeling privileged when I travel. It makes my trips easier. If you know me, you know that the basics I look for in a hotel is a clean room, comfortable bed, good Internet, fabulous shower head, and… bottled water in my room. I am more likely to use my miles to buy upgrades or “stuff” (like my new office printer), instead of getting free or discounted travel. Because, after all, loyalty benefits for me are best redeemed through recognition.
My mother-in-law, on the other hand, does everything she can to maximize and build her earning of points. When flying out to visit her “favorite grandson,” she books her flights, not necessarily based on cost or schedule, but in a way so she can accrue more miles. And, since her credit card earns miles, she eats in restaurants, shops in stores, and recently even charged her bill for new kitchen cabinets just to get more points. She gives her loyalty whenever possible to companies which give her miles in return, so she can then use those miles primarily for free travel. Because, after all, loyalty benefits to her are best redeemed through rewards. Loyalty Management is a key component and discipline of customer relationship management (CRM). Your CRM technology should have the ability to meet the needs of both of these types of customers. It should also have the ability to produce email communications, updating members of their status and balances, as well as personalized features allowing them to redeem their points directly on your company’s website.
For some time now, only the major hotel companies have had this type of technology. It’s the mid-majors, small groups and independents that have not have affordable access to these systems. But, here’s the good news. The days of manually entering information into another system or sending a database to third parties for processing are coming to an end. Fortunately, today’s cloud computing solutions and Web 2.0 technologies allow organizations of any size to have this type of technology.
CRM is the only effective way to recognize and reward your customers. It’s just as important that you know your customer’s preference for loyalty (recognition or rewards?) as you know their preferences during a stay (feather pillows or extra towels?). Central reservation and property management systems do a great job at recording a customer’s stay, but most are limited when it comes to loyalty redemption. This information needs to be shared with the customer relationship management system so that you can effectively recognize and reward your customers according to their preferences, and ultimately keep their loyalty.