Loyalty Programs: Five Steps to a Five-Star Online Travel Experience
By Mark Simpson President & Founder, Maxymiser | October 02, 2011
The travel industry is more diversified than ever before. With a myriad of online travel agencies providing one-stop shops for everything from airfare and room and board to transportation and tours, these sites aren't only waging pricing wars against each other, they're competing directly with hotels, airlines, rental car and tour companies.
Now, more and more consumers are taking advantage of this industry battle to please their own wallets. Always-on-the-prowl bargain hunters can make marketing in the travel industry difficult - especially for companies that can't compete price-wise. But how do you create and maintain brand loyalty when consumers have hundreds, if not thousands, of choices? By ensuring that visitors have a successful browsing and booking experience.
Hotel CRM, loyalty programs, reward points and status levels-when executed correctly-can significantly boost customer retention and long-term brand loyalty. Even better, these programs give hotel marketers and on-the-ground team members - such as concierges, management and front desk agents - deep levels of personalized data on guests that can be used to significantly improve their experience from the time of booking to the time of checkout. But most hotel marketers have yet to use these rich data portals to provide a seamless 360-degree brand experience across all channels - meaning not just in their marketing initiatives, but also to the customers actual experience in the hotel.
Your digital assets are the perfect lynchpin for achieving an exceptional guest experience. But before CRM and loyalty programs can be successful, there are a few steps to aligning business objectives with customer needs.
Step 1: Review Your Itinerary: Discover where brand delivery is failing
This may be obvious, but it's always a good idea to sit down, evaluate your current marketing and CRM flow and prioritize what you want to change. Don't just focus on loyalty programs, guest complaints or even your CRM program; instead, think about overall business, revenue and company goals. Are current marketing efforts positively impacting revenues? Are you using CRM data to make the online and offline experience as relevant as possible? Are you investing time and effort into email marketing without a true segmentation and targeting plan? Before tearing-down, launching or re-tooling anything, uncover your issues, achievements, successes, trends, and gaps. Clear and defined business goals will lead you in the right direction to perfecting the overall customer-brand relationship.