What did Carlson Hotels - a multi-brand, international hotel company - do when it decided to take its existing US-based frequent guest loyalty programme, Goldpoints Plus, and extend its reach to customers in 71 countries?
Earlier this year the hotel operator decided to expand its Goldpoints Plus programme to five brands in 71 countries, covering a total of 965 locations (including Regent Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson, and Park Inn).
Carlson Marketing was called in to take up the challenge of turning a domestic loyalty scheme into a cross-border, multi-national programme. But Carlson Hotels did not simply hire its sister company automatically. "We looked for a marketing services company that was up to the challenge and chose Carlson Marketing - not because it's our sister company but because it really was the best company for the job," explained Fredrik Korallus, executive vice president of revenue generation for Carlson Hotels Worldwide. "Carlson Marketing is now our loyalty agency of record for North and South America, and our marketing partner for all aspects of the programme."
The task set by the hotel group was to create a single global system that would redefine customer loyalty for the entire hotel group, including multiple currencies and multiple languages. The platform also needed to be cost-efficient in order to provide extra value for the end consumer.
Scott Heintzeman, chief information officer for Carlson Marketing, said that the US-based marketing firm decided to work on the project with its international branches, including IT resources, from the US, Australia, and India, along with Carlson Hotels IT teams in Omaha, Minneapolis, and Copenhagen.
"We simultaneously developed a platform that is easily adaptable for other Carlson Marketing loyalty clients," said Heintzeman. "We developed interconnected elements and services such as content management, business rules management, file management, a service bus (so services can communicate with each other), a reporting service, a banking service, an airline redemption service, a global prepaid card, and a contact centre, among others."
"The new Goldpoints Plus programme brings the 'global' idea to a whole new level for Carlson Hotels, which now has an entirely new level of sophistication. To the consumer it's simple value but, from a marketing standpoint, it's highly sophisticated and exciting," noted Luc Bondar, global vice president of loyalty for Carlson Marketing.
And according to travel loyalty expert Randy Petersen, editor of InsideFlyer and FlyerTalk, in an age of general consumer disappointment due to the devaluation of loyalty points, the Carlson Hotels programme expansion is a refreshing change, having customer's interests at heart: "Carlson Hotels has raised the bar for earning more points for its members - 100% for most hotel stays - and yet, for the majority of its rewards, Carlson has not raised the points requirement for redemptions."
New points structure
Under the new programme structure, members will have the opportunity to earn 50% - 100% more points per hotel stay without any increase in the redemption level for rewards (e.g. 20 points per US$1 or �1 spent on full-service brand hotel stays).
The programme also includes the option of earning airline miles with the participation of 23 airline partners. New and improved benefits for elite members of the programme include the best available room, 25% - 50% point bonuses, last room availability, early check-ins and late check-outs, and elite-only points and cash offers.
The revised programme also allows members to donate to the World Childhood Foundation, which focuses on the prevention of child exploitation and trafficking. Environmental responsibility is also part of the new redemption catalogue, with members now having the ability to transfer points to Carbon Neutral to help offset some of the CO2 emissions associated with travel.