Lookin’ for Love? Maybe It’s Time to Explore Loyalty Programs
If there’s one thing we marketers love it’s, well, love. A way to find that secret sauce of connecting with people and keeping them coming back for more. We wordsmith articles for websites, create fun tidbits for social media channels, crunch open rates and, oh, so much more. That magic we’re hoping to create all comes down to love. A love between a person and your brand that’s so deep and special there is nothing that can take it away.
For anyone in the hospitality industry, there’s one sure-fire way we’ve discovered to create a spark, and it’s through a well thought-out loyalty program. If you’re also looking for that love connection, we think this could be the answer.
Loyalty Programs for Hotels
A guest loyalty program is a rewards program offered by a hotels – and other companies – as a way to reward purchasing behavior. A loyalty program may give a customer advanced access special offers, promotions, and perks. And, believe it or not, is not exclusive to big brand hotels.
Seeking unique stay experiences, millennial travelers are leading a hospitality revolution. Millennials and Gen Xer’s alike are armed with more information than ever and bring an online savviness not seen in travel generations of the past. These travelers are rejecting stiff, big-box loyalty programs in favor of the dynamic and agile programs independent properties can offer.
Why It’s Time to Implement a Loyalty Program for Your Hotel
The Center for Hospitality Research at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration published a study in 2014 showing that loyalty programs encourage frequent guests to stay even more frequently and with an average 50-percent increase in revenue for independent hotels. Even the elusive millennial is showing brand loyalty and increased spend when offered a loyalty program.
The best part? They’re not just great for your hotel business either. Guests like loyalty programs, too. According to Hubspot, “76% of consumers think that loyalty programs are a part of their relationship with brands — and 83% said loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with certain companies.”
The fact of the matter is, loyalty programs work for both guest and brand. Now that’s what we call a win-win!
How to Get a Loyalty Program Started
The good news is, as an independent property, you have more flexibility and freedom than a chain property program may be able to offer, and guests happen to love that. But, how do you get started? These tips may help:
Sign Everyone Up
There’s no better way to start building that relationship than by simply signing up your guests. This will give you the opportunity for regular communication, gives them a chance to promote your brand, and prompts the guest to go directly to your website for information and potential bookings.
If you think travelers these days are excited about the same old point-based reward programs, think again. Organizations are finding they have to differentiate by offering personalized experiences. Rather than free rooms, consider free upgrades. Offer VIP, behind-the-scenes, or exclusive experiences. Experiential travel is trending, and you can be ahead of the curve by incorporating that concept into your rewards program.
Listen to Your Guests
Like, really listen. Administer polls, engage on social media, follow up stays with a survey – and be sure to offer them the option to fill in their own answer. Discover ways in which to set your property apart, then consider that feedback when setting up your loyalty program.
Partner up with local businesses to offer gift bags or local experiences. This will really give your guest a local experience and highlight the unique offerings of your property.
Don’t Forget the Business Traveler
Business traveler trends are showing an increase in “bleisure” travel bookings. So, even though on-the-whole corporate travelers tend to be loyal to the point programs of chain hotels, independent hotels are starting to win over this typically hard-won segment as they can appeal to both ends of their travel needs more efficiently.
Brand love doesn’t come easy. But, once you’ve won over your guest they can be your greatest advocates. Robust and unique loyalty programs could be the key to your success! ~Click to Tweet
Is your independent hotel looking for an out-of-the-box way to connect with guests and make them raving fans? Contact us to learn more about our effective programs for properties just like yours!
Susan Tucker, Director of Digital Strategy
Susan brings her experience and enthusiasm as Director of Digital Strategy. A certified Inbound Marketing professional, she believes consumers should not be “sold to” but that they should find value in brands that are providing the products and services they are seeking. Outside of work, you can find her chasing her boys on the ski slopes or watching them on the sidelines of the soccer field.
Have a pressing digital marketing question for Susan? Contact her here.