5 Loyalty Program Trends Hoteliers Need to Adopt

The Room Amenities That Matter Most to Your Hotel Guests

Hotel loyalty and rewards programs are no longer relegated to travel’s golden age. These programs are experiencing a renaissance and travellers are taking note. To help you update your program, I’m going to walk you through the loyalty trends that hoteliers need to adopt to stay competitive.

Trend 1 – Expanding loyalty programs with diverse accommodation offers

In addition to rewarding guests with free or discounted stays at your own property, include special offers for other brands or locations. Wyndham has taken an innovative step in this direction by inviting loyalty members to redeem their points at its timeshare and vacation properties, effectively extending the rewards from the main brand to include subsidiaries.

Loyalty trend tip: Work with other independent properties that share your brand values and complement (but not compete with) your offerings. For example, a boutique wine hotel in British Columbia, Canada, could partner with vacation properties in wine regions such as Sonoma, California, and Niagara, Ontario. Together you all become stronger.

Trend 2 – Diversifying reward portfolios by integrating other travel components

Some hotels aren’t able to offer free stays, just as some guests don’t have a reason to return any time soon. As such, crossover reward techniques are gaining traction. JetBlue has started offering loyalty-member discounts on complete travel packages. It’s helping them attract new customers from partner brands while fostering a loyal clientele of current patrons.

Loyalty trend tip: Work with complementary brands to create packages, and offer incentives to the loyalty members who purchase them. For example, your hotel may partner with car rental companies, waterparks, and restaurants. Travellers can participate in just one loyalty program but still reap diverse rewards such as upgrades and discounts on various travel expenses. Everyone wins.

Trend 3 – Gamification

Customer engagement is vital if a loyalty program is to drive revenue. And the best way really engage members is to make the program feel like a game, combining game play mechanics with traditional offers. Additionally, the SoCal study “The Endowed Progress Effect” found that customers are more likely to participate in loyalty programs if given bonus points. When guests feel like they’re progressing, even if it’s artificial progress, they’re motivated to continue.

Loyalty trend tip:  Give customers a head start and motivate them to remain engaged via bonus points. For example, you could give guests double points for their first booking: points for their stay and bonus points for signing up as a new member.

Trend 4 – Shifting to short-term reward structures

Guests no longer have the patience to wait for their points to add up or their rewards to kick in. Keep their attention by rewarding them often and in innovative new ways. Accor tries to reward guest at every opportunity. Take a page from their book and move away from rewards based solely on bookings. Start rewarding members for things they do during their stay as well.

Loyalty trend tip: Give guests points for using paid services, buying products, and patronising partner businesses. For example, offer guests a free breakfast when they dine in for dinner, purchase from your gift shop, or rent a car from one of your partners. Small hotel? Try providing a room upgrade when guests book a package deal with their overnight stay.

Trend 5 – Simplifying tiered structure

Turn your guests into active loyalty members (and brand ambassadors) by having a simple tiered program structure. Offering different reward levels encourages guests to increase their engagement in order to move up a tier, while having a simple structure makes the benefit of reaching each tier immediately obvious.

Loyalty trend tip: Give guests clear and achievable goals to work toward. Pairing specific actions with corresponding rewards, such as making the fifth stay free, for example, will help. When you take this one step further by offering attractive rewards at even low-level tiers, such as a complimentary bottle of wine or spa treatment, guests have more opportunities to redeem their points—and are reminded of the value of your program every time they do.

 

 

In a bid to drive more direct bookings you’ve listed your hotel on metasearch for free, integrated a booking engine via your property management system or connectivity partner, and started some savvy social marketing. It’s going well and now you’re looking for new ways to make an impression on your guests, get noticed online, and increase overnight stays. You’re not ready to shell out for professional solutions just yet, though. So what do you do?

Glad you asked.

You need to offer the room amenities that matter most to travelers, and they need to be top quality. In fact, per PwC’s Consumer Intelligence Series Report on hotel brand loyalty, “Both business and leisure travelers say room quality is the #1 reason for choosing a hotel.”

The guest isn’t just looking for a bed to sleep in and a roof over their head anymore. Travelers want to indulge themselves in hotels featuring high-quality room amenities. They want to feel pampered. They want luxury.

This doesn’t mean a jacuzzi in the room, however. It means the basics you provide should look and feel luxurious. Guests want you to meet (and ideally exceed) their expectations on the essentials. And when you do, they’ll notice—both from your online profile and while at your property.

In this post we’ll reveal the basic room amenities that matter most to hotel guests. We’ll also give you some tips on how to update them so they’re not just simple, but simply splendid.

#1 Plush pillows and breathable bed linens

There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep. And when you’re on the road, with the stresses of trip-planning and travel behind you, there’s nothing you want more.

What the average hotel provides: Rough polyester sheets in dark colors or dated patterns.

What guests want: Soft, breathable white or pastel sheets, down comforters, and plump pillows.

Why? 1000-thread-count cotton sheets and down-filled duvets are soothing. It’s the same with earth tones. When you stick to natural fibers and colors, guests can see from your online profile images how luxuriously comfortable your beds are. And they’ll certainly feel it when they’re sleeping on them.

#2 Soft, over-sized bath towels

Using a towel that doesn’t fully cover you is awkward. Picture yourself sharing a hotel room with a friend, parent, or co-worker and you’ll understand why.

What the average hotel provides: One or two small, worn, rough towels.

What guests want: Generous, super soft towels that envelope them completely. Also, multiple towels with different sizes for different uses. 

Why? Large towels feel luxurious. You can still encourage guests to use the same towel more than once, but give them a set of over-sized, fluffy towels upon arrival. They’ll be more likely to hang them up and reuse them if you do.

#3 Full-sized, pH-balanced toiletries

Having to squeeze the living daylights out of a tiny bottle just to get a few drops of low-quality product doesn’t make for a luxurious hotel experience. Especially not when the soap dries out your skin and the shampoo makes your hair dull and frizzy.

What the average hotel provides: A few small bottles of cheap shampoo, lotion, and shower and bath gel.

What guests want: High-quality soap, shampoo, and conditioner that leave them feeling clean and refreshed and looking good. And enough of everything to get the job done.

Why? An invigorating shower resulting in shiny, tangle-free hair and soft, clean skin is at the height of simple luxury. It instills in your guests a sense of confidence and joy, and this is how they’d like to feel as they leave their room to go to an important meeting or to see the sights. Help them feel great by plying their shower with top-notch, regular-sized toiletries.

#4 Complimentary refreshments

We all know that mini-bar fees are the most contested item on a room bill. It leaves a guest feeling nickel-and-dimed. Quality complimentary refreshments, on the other hand, leave them feeling cared for.

What the average hotel provides: Cheap plastic bottles of water, an uninspired sampling of snacks, and sample-sized alcohol at exorbitant rates.

What guests want: Water, tea, and coffee within arm’s reach and in real drink-ware.

Why? After a long flight or an evening of enjoying the local nightlife, a bottle of water is just what your guests need to rehydrate and feel refreshed. Similarly, that jolt of caffeine the moment they wake up helps get their day started right. These are simple conveniences you can offer free of charge to make your guests feel pampered, not cheated.

#5 A little something special

One of the greatest rules of hospitality is to make your guests feel welcome and special. What better way to accomplish this than by treating each one to a little something extra? Add a cherry to the top of their experience and they’ll love you for it.

What the average hotel provides: Nothing, usually.

What guests want: To feel special. A plate of homemade cookies, a welcome cocktail, or fresh flowers in the room can do the trick.

Why? In a world where competing hoteliers are trying to undercut one another by cutting back on what they see as unnecessary expenses, the hotels that still invest in life’s simple luxuries for their guests will stand out. Dare to be different.Offer your guests more than what they expect. When you deliver a high standard of quality on the essential room amenities hotel guests want most, you set yourself apart from other hoteliers, and you get noticed by travelers.

Got the above covered? Then you’re well on your way to encouraging guests to extend their stay, return soon, and leave you a gracious review after they’ve gone. This is because unlike your competition, you nailed the basics and are exceeding expectations.

Don’t forget to let guests know that your hotel is working hard to wow them. Log in to your free-to-use trivago Hotel Manager account and update your room amenities on your profile.

Are there a few things you could work on? Don’t delay. Go room by room and replace old, rough, inexpensive room amenities with the quality basics travelers want.

 

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If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On


The title above has been taken from a 1602 A.D play by William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. The line holds true to my life as well. Music is my passion. It’s sacred to me. It makes me happy. I’ve always believed that music is the purest form of a potion for our soul. Music has the ability to unlock parts of our mind that went missing in action long ago. The connection that most of us have with music is one that evokes a feeling of positivity. These sounds are deeply ingrained in us from an early age; it’s soothing, comforting and familiar.

 

 

I love music! Love it because it is like an explosion of ecstasy and creativity.  I listen to music every chance I get. The kind of music I listen t at a particular time depends on what I am doing and my mood that moment. Music creates a positive vibe around me. It creates feelings and more than anything else, it creates memories. These memories are so beautiful. They last for a life time.

According to Plato, one of the greatest philosophers of all time,

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.

 

 

This holds true. A life without music is a dull life. Even nature produces music in the form of beautiful sounds across the planet. It is an innate part of the world around. Without those sounds, the world would be so quiet and not in a good way but in a terrifying way. Music has the excellent quality of healing. It has that ‘special’ something that all of us get touched by. Sometimes I feel, I was born with music inside me.

 

 

I am especially fond of playing the piano. I started playing it when I was just five years old. Today, it has become an inseparable part of my life. Composing music gives me a chance to express myself to the world.  My original solo piano compositions are often described as "musical storytelling", and are haunting and contagious, relaxing and beautiful, peaceful and touching, energetic and inspiring. That’s the feedback I receive.

 

At the age of eleven, I had a handful of lessons with a teacher who struggled to sight-read his grade 2 pieces. At the age of fourteen, I found an inspiring, quite brilliant teacher, Colin Stone. This is what he said about me:  "Mihran Kalaydjian....a stunning young pianist...his keyboard touch proved consistently firm, meticulously balanced and tastefully assertive....and his sense of phrasing lucidly energetic...."

I’ve always felt happy when people around me think this way and appreciate me for my musical craft.

 

 

Playing the piano has always been one of my greatest passions. During my childhood I was influenced by number of masters of music and piano. Some of my childhood heroes (actually they still are) – Mozart, Schumann, Rubinstein, Cortot, and Beethoven. While I continued being inspired by these music maestros, I started teaching myself to play, developing my own style over a span of 25 years. My technique and touch combines my inner emotions to various genres.

 

Classically trained from childhood, I spent time recording and producing other artists before deciding to share my own brand of contemporary piano music with the world. Playing a musical instrument can be described as being a physical, mental and emotional experience for any student. To be given the opportunity to play a musical instrument offers the chance to improve many basic life skills including literacy, numeracy, finger dexterity, motor coordination, focused listening and speech. Music is also an outlet for emotions and a way of expressing oneself. I dedicate a lifetime to composing music.

 

 

If you ever wish to hear my music pieces, visit me at –

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/MihranKalaydjian1

 

My YouTube page consists of over one hundred music pieces composed by me.

 

You can also visit my website -

 

http://www.reverbnation.com/mihrankalaydjianPiano

 

 

I welcome your valuable feedback because that is what keeps me motivated to perform better and better J

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TASK FORCE OPERATIONS…FILLING THE VOID IN HOSPITALITY LEADERSHIP

By Gary Brown

 

As a long-time hospitality executive I did not even know what ‘task force’ was until I was in the job! It sounded a bit like the title of a Chuck Norris movie, not the genteel world of the hospitality professional.

 

Task Force operations have come into their own in the last few years to provide continuity in hotel and resort operations. A task force contractor fills the void in staffing caused by never ending executive turnover or staffing voids created when a hotel or resort changes brands. As a ‘flag’ prepares to change, the outgoing company will move key staff to other chain locations. Also, employees privy to rumors may ‘jump ship’ due to impending changes creating openings in key operating departments. A task force partner can put fresh, unbiased perspective (fresh eyes) on an operation, provide quick fixes, and bring not only revenue suggestions but potential cost reduction ideas.  In temp-to-hire situations, both sides have the chance to “date before they buy the ring” as a GM friend is fond of saying.

 

In the case of sales and marketing positions few hotels can afford a void in top line activity as it will quickly threaten the revenue stream and profitability of the operation. This is where a task force contractor can step in: typically a 1099-contractor is paid a flat rate on a weekly, monthly, or project basis. Benefits paid to a full time employee that can run an additional 30-40% of a base salary are typically included in the task force fee, so the owner pays a set amount and can budget accordingly. This fact combined with a potential tax deduction for hiring an outside contractor might also be appealing in the financial statement. The contractor typically takes meals in the employee cafeteria or the three-meal-a-day restaurant, may have laundry privileges and gets a paid trip home every 2-3 weeks. A contractor can be engaged in screening and hiring the replacement position or other key positions in the department.  Most importantly, continuity is provided with close feedback to the owner, General Manager, or corporate staff.

I would like to share my experience in several recent task force assignments.

 

I worked with Atlanta-based Hospitality Ventures, who manage 35 mid-market hotels and incidentally also employ several full time task force positions such as General Manager, Director of Sales & Marketing, and Sales Manager executives. My assignment involved the transformation of a 35-year-old, 202-room Holiday Inn on Coligny Beach on Hilton Head Island. Following a $6.2 million rejuvenation, the resort moved up in pricing within an upgraded competitive set.  The finished product was renamed The Beach House to reflect a boutique feel and compliment the upgraded restaurant and lounge at this prime beachfront location.  This required a complete rework of pricing, new collateral (both electronic and printed), new banquet menus, and a complete new look with the OTAs (online travel agencies). We closely reviewed competitive pricing and transient demand working hand in hand with the brand and our own revenue team. As we moved up in the market we replaced lower rated group business with premium conferences and catering bookings. This was a 60-day assignment initially but ended up a five-month project. We had a task force GM and F&B Director and supported one another. It was tough to leave Hilton Head Island, believe me.

 

My next assignment presented a chance to put away the resort attire and bring out the suits and cuff links. The 4-Diamond Intercontinental Harbor Court in Baltimore was to be reflagged a Royal Sonesta as the latter seeks to grow in the domestic marketplace. This assignment had a whole set of different challenges. We had a ‘morning muster’ meeting with the sales team and reviewed hotel occupancies, groups in-house and site inspections. The challenge was to cover all these details but most importantly have everyone give a presentation to the group on the business they wanted to book. We changed the culture of the sales and catering team, calling the morning meeting the Daily Business Review. The meeting was to last just 15 to 20 minutes which required preparation and focus — after all, we wanted the team on the phone with customers not sitting in an in-house meeting.  The team quickly developed a sense of what was a good piece of business and honed their presentation skills to speak to the toughest audience ever — their peers!

 

The team developed a passion for presenting and booking their business. We re-deployed the team into vertical and geographic markets. Work was needed with the ad agency as well as a new online presence. New collateral, print and electronic, was needed as well as enhanced scripting for the reservations agents and sales team so all could speak to customers with a unified message about the new brand in this well established Baltimore hotel. It was a 60-day assignment. We hired a topnotch Director of Sales & Marketing and they were off to the races — and I was just getting used to wearing a suit and tie again.

 

My most recent assignment was with Salamander Hotels & Resorts, based in Middleburg, VA, and owned by entrepreneur Sheila Johnson, a delightful lady and savvy businessperson. She purchased the Innisbrook Resort outside Tampa and put in over $75 million in upgrades, enhancements, and a beautiful spa, thus creating  ‘Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf and Spa Resort’. At the same time Salamander entered into management contracts with the Reunion Resort in Orlando and the Hammock Beach Resort on the Palm Coast of Florida, and together the three resorts marketed as the ‘Great Golf Resorts of Florida’. I served as the task force Director of Sales & Marketing through most of the latter part of 2012 and into 2013 for Innisbrook (affectionately known as ‘the mother ship’).

 

The sales team was deployed on a cluster basis where the sales staff of all three resorts focused on geographic market areas for each of the resorts. At Innisbrook we had the team focus on all group prospects and tentatives on the books, sent out several targeted ‘eblasts’ and maximized our presence with all online group booking engines such as Cvent and Starcite. We also had to educate the sales team from the managed resorts on the nuances of Innisbrook so it was properly represented to the meetings marketplace. It took a hands-on approach with every sales manager to review each piece of business to determine what was needed to reach closure and render a definite booking.  It was an exciting assignment and Tampa was not a bad place to spend the winter — now I see why so many people head to Florida. I must talk with my wife, Suzie, on this topic!

 

Task Force assignments offer a variety of situations with great self-fulfillment, including positive and sometimes immediate results. You must be forever a diplomat. I have been asked, “Are you one of them or one of us?” The correct answer is, “Yes!”

 

I look forward to the excitement of my next assignment and how I can make a difference to an owner or management team — and meet new friends along the way!