Believe It Or Not, Loyalty Isn’t Dead – If You Do It Right

by Meisha Bochicchio

Industry consolidation and pressure to differentiate from online travel agents has led many hotels to rethink their loyalty program offerings. Even large chains, like Hilton and Marriott have revamped their entire loyalty platforms to increase participation and engagement. But are hotel loyalty programs actually important?
According to our 2017 Website Behavior Study, loyalty programs were actually seen as a very important factor for almost 50% of respondents. Therefore, the benefit of offering a program to reward and incentivize loyal guests seems clear. The more challenging question arises when hotels begin to structure loyalty programs when it comes to compensating loyalty.
Interestingly, our study indicated that a whopping 78% of guests prefer smaller discounts or rewards on an existing stay versus only 22% that would prefer to wait longer for a greater value discount or reward.

What perks are most intriguing to guests? In our study, we asked respondents to rank different loyalty incentives in order of which they find the most valuable. Unsurprisingly, free breakfast was listed as a top contender from a value perspective, followed by early check-in and discounts at on-site shops and restaurants.
The full list in order of most preferred perk included:

  1. Free breakfast
  2. Early check-in
  3. Discounts at on-site restaurant, bar, or shop
  4. Free wi-fi
  5. Discounts on future stays

What does this mean for your hotel?
Providing a loyalty program for guests is a great way to incentivize future stays and to nurture the relationship with your most loyal customers. Properly structuring and marketing your hotel’s loyalty program is the key to success.
Guests are looking for instant value – Differentiate your loyalty program by giving guests what they want – smaller value rewards during their existing stay.
Value doesn’t have to break the bank – Immediate value does not equate to spending more money on guests. Consider a value you can bring to the loyalty program that will thank guests for their patronage without much additional cost.
Loyalty is an opportunity – A well-crafted loyalty program opens up the door for your hotel to not only satisfy but also surprise and delight guests, which will in turn lead to higher guest satisfaction and higher review ratings.
For more stats on hotel guest behavior, be sure to check out our full 2017 Website Behavior Travel Study and share your thoughts in the comments below!

There’s More In the 2017 Travel Website Behavior Study

This is just a small portion of the research that was conducted by TravelBoom and We asked over 2,000 leisure travelers what pushes their buttons and converts them from site visitors to hotel guests.
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