TNooz has a nice, if lengthy, roundup of the industry trends that are bringing renewed interest in and invigoration of loyalty programmes in the hotel industry. The article includes an extensive quote from Patrick Bosworth, CEO of the industry startup Duetto. The quick take: hotel brands now view loyalty programmes as their most valuable weapon in driving direct bookings, repeat visits, and engagement.
Here's a summary of the article's key points:
- The major chains are turning to the loyalty programme as their most valuable weapon. In a CNBC interview, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said, �I think the most important thing for us to succeed at is the loyalty programme.�
- Online Travel Agencies (OTRs) are following suit. According to the article, "Expedia Inc officials say that they been studying the loyalty programme of its recent acquisition Orbitz and the one at Hotels.com. Their aim is to soon tweak or relaunch the loyalty programmes for the organisation�s many brands to drive more repeat business." The outlier here is Priceline's Booking.com division, which has no plans to launch a programme of its own.
- The loyalty play is designed to drive direct booking. Recent contract negotiations between hotel companies and OTAs have emphasized hotel brand plans to offer preferred pricing for loyalty programme members. OTAs, meanwhile, have agreed that such pricing does not violate "rate-parity" contract clauses.
- The Street is taking notice of loyalty investment. The article quotes a Stifel investment analysis report: �We view this move as possibly the beginning of a series of global campaigns by major hotel chains to incentivise customer loyalty and control distribution costs.�
Most importantly, experts now anticipate that, far from fulfilling fears of reduced loyalty programme value through consolidation, hotels are instead reinvesting in loyalty to improve and personalise the customer experience through "personalised pricing and perks." 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting and transitional year for hotel loyalty - we'll make sure you stay up to date on the latest developments.
Read the Tnooz article here.
- Rick Ferguson