The New Take on 21st Century Customer Loyalty Programs

By Steve Morse General Manager, Travel & Hospitality, ClickSquared | May 19, 2010

"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends." - Walt Disney

With more options for consumers to choose from than ever, it's grown increasingly challenging for travel and hospitality organizations to stand out. Though many have extensive customer loyalty programs, they just aren't effective anymore. For too many companies the response levels are largely unimpressive.

Rather than tired old tactics, travel and hospitality organizations must develop and execute customer loyalty programs that surprise their guests in new and unexpected ways. These programs must illustrate a personal knowledge and understanding of the individual traveler to be successful.

Innovative customer loyalty programs aren't just "nice to haves" anymore, they're imperative for success, particularly when you pair today's economic situation with growing customer expectations. Every dollar a consumer spends is more carefully considered than ever. What is your strategy? Are your offers living up to customers' expectations? Do you track their travel history, loyalty, preferences? Are you acting on this knowledge in a choreographed fashion? Before you even begin your customer loyalty program have you defined your goals; repeat business, cross-selling or up-selling, etc.?

Customer Loyalty Begins on Day One

"You don't earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day." - Jeffrey Gitomer

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.