Qualitative Research: Loyalty Programs and their Effectiveness on the Hotel Guest
By Johnna Freud Qualitative Research Moderator, Saul Cohen & Associates | May 19, 2010
It is impossible to determine what makes consumers more attracted to one hotel loyalty program rather than another unless you ask them. Through qualitative research, we have identified loyalty program attributes that consumers find appealing -- or not. They want the rewards to be attainable. Programs that offer too few points for members' purchases, require too many points for redemptions, or have too many rules and blackout dates frustrate consumers rather than build loyalty. Additionally, consumers are more attracted to programs that enable them to acquire points from purchases at partner companies or additional bonus points for specific purchases (i.e, purchases made in the hotel or resort's restaurants or shops qualifying for more points per dollar spent).
Consumers also want options for point redemption. For example, while some loyal guests might save their hotel reward points to use for future free accommodations, others may travel so frequently that they acquire more points than they could ever use only for free accommodations. For them, it is important that the program offer redemption alternatives, such as the ability to redeem points for merchandise or upgraded accommodations.
Additionally, consumers want rewards programs to be written in simple language without legal jargon, hidden restrictions or fees. They want assurances that any personal information they provide will be used only for the loyalty program.
Targeting Your Loyalty Program
A key element to a successful loyalty program is that it offers rewards that consumers want. On this topic, a frequent business traveler once told me, "If I am loyal to a particular hotel, then I want them to be loyal to me. I want them to make the reward benefits worth my while."