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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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.