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Some new thinking on loyalty…

This week I read a really interesting article published by Oracle and for today’s blog, I thought I would drill down on a couple of points that I found intriguing.

The article is interesting in the first part as it collates data from over 13,000 guests and 500 hotels and hospitality providers, so the spectrum is large enough to make the data stack up.

One of the main points made is how important social media is.  We have all known for a very long time (and something I repeat often) is that it isn’t about what we want to tell our guests, it’s about what they want to learn for themselves from unbiased opinions, which in our case is past guests and their reviews.  And where are these reviews?  Well the first place we all think of is TripAdvisor, with maybe Booking.com review section coming a close second.  But the interesting fact is that one of the main places we should be looking to gain a barometer of guest feedback, is YouTube.

43% of customers surveyed said that they would trust brands that were reviewed by YouTubers.  Have you ever gone on to YouTube and searched for the video content that your customers leave?  You definitely should. As hoteliers we should understand that guests are increasingly turning towards social media for advice and unbiased opinions and the impact that these channels have on our guests perception is only going to grow.  Some interesting stats that the survey threw up:

  • 57% of people are likely to research brands on social media before buying
  • 56% are likely to share photo’s of hotels that stand out and provide an experience
  • 48% are likely to feature the hotel on social media in exchange for an offer or reward
  • 46% are likely to link social media activity to a rewards programme with automatic rewards for posts

So should this be part of your sales and marketing strategy?  It won’t suit the strategy of some hotels but would it for yours?  Would you reward your guests for sharing positive stories about your hotel? Something to consider…

Does your customer base influence how you should ‘do’ loyalty?

The answer to that one is yes.  The survey of over 13,000 guests showed that customers booking leisure stays are much less likely to care about earning points – 30% said that loyalty schemes did not influence their booking decision at all, whilst 82% of business travellers are much more likely to book a hotel where they can earn and redeem points.  Branded hotels already know this.  If you look at Hilton or Marriott, their focus for many years has been on a corporate reward system that not only rewards the guest, but the booker too.  And of course leisure guests are much less likely to care about points, as they often stay in un-branded hotels that offer an ‘experience’ rather than a functional overnight stay, and their booking decision is more transient as they are less likely to come back to that particular hotel.

However, an interesting fact that backs up some blog posts that I have written in the past, is that 61% of guests feel that a loyalty programme that is based around experiences rather than points would be more appealing.  And they want that experience during their stay – so an instant reward.

So couldn’t this help with your Book Direct strategy which is of course just another part of your loyalty scheme? Allow guests to book directly on your site with a rate that isn’t available on any other site and give them an instant ‘thank you’ in the shape of your own unique reward.  Or better still, let them choose their own reward

Loyalty doesn’t have to be about points and nor does it have to be about discounting. It can be about instant rewards and giving your guest something so amazing that they want to share on social media. Give them an experience they will never forget and let them do the marketing for you…

And for more advice on loyalty or book direct strategies, just ask@rightrevenue.wpengine.com