Loyal Guests: Who They Are and How to Maximize Their Business
By Robin Korman Senior Vice President Loyalty Marketing, Wyndham Hotel Group | October 23, 2011
Over the course of the last 30 years, loyalty programs in the travel space have evolved dramatically. They've grown from simple programs focused on offering individual brand loyalists a single flight or hotel reward into complex, multi-brand, multi-company programs with membership tiers, partnerships, credit cards and rewards that range from economical gift cards to once in a lifetime experiences.
Yet through all of this, the ultimate goal of such programs remains uniquely similar: to create lasting customer relationships that result in consistent and continued business for the hotels participating in the program.
But who is a loyal customer? Often, people think that those who frequent businesses on a regular basis are loyal customers but the reality is frequent guests might not always be loyal guests. Yes, repeat business is desirable and certainly fits within the type of behavior that a loyalty program tries to create but at the end of the day, frequency is just that: a behavior. True loyalty is about emotion.
In the hotel space, loyal customers prefer your hotel or brand to the point where they develop a personal attachment, one that compels them to go out of their way to stay with your hotel or brand, making them more immune to higher prices or a less convenient location.
With this knowledge, one can start to see the value of a strong loyalty program. Loyalty programs help drive attachment by giving customers a rationale beyond location and price to influence their booking decisions: bonus points, value adds, discounts, etc. The programs serve as the foundation of greater guest loyalty, which when combined with an outstanding hotel experience, can lead to guests returning again and again.
Knowing Who to Target