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

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.