In the past, hotel guest loyalty programs were more exclusive – travelers were invited to join only after having stayed a certain number of times. Today, many hotel companies invite travelers to enroll on the spot, often even before making a booking.
Some brands even forgo formal guest loyalty programs altogether, preferring to recognize and reward their loyal guests on a case by case basis.
Whether or not your hotel or brand offers a guest loyalty program, you can implement systems and procedures to recognize frequent guests and encourage their loyalty.
1. Involve staff. Travelers may love your hotel’s design, amenities or location, but it’s the employees that keep them coming back. Ensure that staff members understand the value of guest loyalty and are trained and empowered to recognize frequent guests, thank them for their loyalty and extend preferential treatment.
2. Track behavior. Use the PMS, CRM and/or loyalty software to keep track of guest room nights, stays and total spend. Identify your most valuable guests and flag them for special treatment.
3. Offer special perks. Acknowledge frequents guests with benefits such as:
• Points that can be redeemed for free stays, products and services
• Preferred rates
• Preferred rooms/upgrades
• Priority check-in
• Early check-in/late check-out
• Free Wi-Fi
• Free breakfast or cocktail
• Welcome back note and amenity
• Access to the executive lounge
• Other benefits relevant to your hotel or brand
Be creative about how you acknowledge loyalty. To ensure exclusivity, reserve the best benefits for your most frequent and valuable guests.
4. Offer options. Some guests may be motivated by free stays, others by breakfast or drinks, and others by special treatment from staff. Ask about preferences, observe behavior, and record details in the guest profile.
5. Offer a best-rate guarantee. Ensure that loyal guests receive the best available rates. If they’re willing to pay more, offer incentives to upgrade to a higher category of room.
6. Be consistent. Travelers are loyal to brands because they like consistency and familiarity. Ensure that all staff at participating hotels comply with loyalty policies and procedures, recognize frequent guests and deliver a consistent experience.
7. Recognize milestone stays. Acknowledge milestone stays such as every fifth stay with an upgrade, amenity or personal note from the general manager. When possible, surprise and delight frequent guests with a thoughtful gift or service.
8. Customize communications. Use data from guest profiles to create a list of your most frequent guests and send them exclusive offers to return.
9. Respect privacy. Travelers may love your brand, but that doesn’t mean they want to hear from it all the time. Ensure that communications are meaningful, relevant and personalized. Always comply with privacy regulations.
10. Solicit feedback. No one knows your hotel better than your frequent guests. Ask for their input and advice when planning new services, amenities and policies.
11. Join a loyalty network. If your hotel or group is too small to operate a loyalty program, consider joining a network like Voilà, Stash, Discovery, Wanup or The Guestbook, affiliating with a soft brand such as Leading Hotels of the World or Preferred Hotels & Resorts, or joining an airline frequent flyer program.
12. Leverage Technology. The PMS can be limited in its ability to create rich guest profiles and track guest activity, feedback and communications across properties within a portfolio. Take advantage of enhanced features offered by CRM systems, guest messaging software and guest feedback management tools.
Whatever you choose, ensuring it is in line with your brand values and resources is key.
For more information, download our Guide to Brand Loyalty.