Hotel Loyalty Landscape – Current Global Perspective
Hotel loyalty programs continue to attract large amounts of customers – 46% of US consumers have joined a hotel loyalty program at some point in their lives. Globally, hotel brands largely use a spend-and-burn structure with tiering, similar to airlines. There are some outliers, such as Leading Hotels of the World and IHG that offer paid memberships for top-tier status, which grant unique customer experiences. Within the APAC region, there is a larger focus on Food & Beverage and earn and burn. In the future, we anticipate an increased focus on APAC hoteliers in building the right partnerships to extend hotel brands and offer personalized experiences for members.
Because so many hotel companies have merged to be large, global businesses, program constructs tend to be similar across all regions. However, there are differences/nuances depending on where the brand is based. Few US-based brands offer high-touch experiences or services, whereas brands like Shangri-La out of APAC offer high-touch services like turn down, robes, slippers, china, etc.
Emotional Consumer Loyalty Research
Aimia’s recent emotional loyalty study reviews these loyalty trends to uncover what engages consumers (rational) and what consumers expect (emotional) from loyalty programs. Looking at the consumer needs and wants helps to uncover opportunities for program improvement and areas where brands can truly differentiate.
According to the study, the US and APAC regions rationally both saw Preferred Treatment as primary drivers to why customers join hotel loyalty programs, contributing 35% and 37% to ideal loyalty, respectively. Emotional expectations for Preferred Treatment were highest in APAC (+57%), US (+60%) and UK (+50%). In Australia, expectations were relatively low across all drivers, with Rewards showing the highest expectations of 29%. Customers in Dubai had the highest expectations for Ease & Participation, rationally contributing 13% to ideal loyalty, but +52% above the mean for emotion.
Find Your Distinction
Hotel loyalty can differentiate by rethinking Preferred Treatment and how they can make their programs easier to understand and more convenient. Hotels can build out customer data to personalize offers and recommendations for their guests, while enabling front of house staff to elevate customer experience by granting access to data-rich profiles. Incorporating tiering can also heighten the feeling of status, and by optimizing programs for highest value customers, some benefits may end up “paying” for themselves while also inspiring advocacy. Marketers should focus on eliciting the six key emotions to build loyalty: happiness, being valued, being appreciated, confidence, gratitude and respect. According to Forrester’s US Customer Experience Index 2018, of customers who feel valued by a brand, 92% plan to stay with the brand, 88% plan to increase spending and 91% will advocate for the brand. Programs in the UK, US and APAC should look to how to make customers feel special for hotel stays, while AUS and Dubai should still be sourcing strong partnership to round out reward offerings.
Customer centricity is key to differentiation among a crowded loyalty landscape. Aimia uses its proprietary SmartJourney® methodology, taking a holistic and personalized customer-centric approach, where each brand interaction is designed to create a meaningful moment and ultimately drive emotional advocacy and long-term customer growth.
The data in this article is derived from Aimia’s emotional loyalty market research report, Global Emotional Loyalty. Download the full report here.
Ease & Participation: Ease of use in joining and participating in the program, and processes within the program such as gamification and recognition Customer Data & Service: How much data is exchanged for program benefits and data security; general care for the customer