Of course loyalty programmes aren’t dead! They are just evolving.
Gone are the days where guests get your loyalty card stamped with each stay. It used to be a good idea, but who really keeps track of those cards anymore? Especially now that we keep all our information on our phones.
Loyalty programmes are making a comeback, but are definitely evolving. Hotels such as the Marriott and Hilton have spent millions redesigning and rebranding what they want to offer to loyal returning guests. This, however, is pointless. Let me tell you why.
For instance, consider where I do my shopping. I shop at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Co-Op. All of them offer a Club Card of some form. However, just because I have a club card from one of these stores doesn’t mean I shop exclusively with them. All it means is that I have more cards in my wallet and I like to collect points.
Now, let’s relate this back to the hospitality industry. Just because a guest is a part of the Hilton Loyalty Programme doesn’t mean they only stay with Hilton. They most likely have a Marriot Rewards Card and stay with them too. Instead, guests are looking for instant loyalty. “What’s in it for me if I come and stay with you, booking with you directly?” That is their mindset.
Instant Loyalty Programmes are the way of the future!
What are things you can you offer in an Instant Loyalty Programme?
- Early check-in
- Early check-out
- Free drink at the bar
- Flowers in the room upon arrival
- Discount vouchers for local restaurants or cafes
- Discounts on local attractions
- Reduction in room rate
The list goes on, but whatever you offer, make sure you tell your guests, even the ones who have booked indirectly via an OTA.
Here’s a little tip:
When I send my “booking confirmation” emails out to all the guests, I make a point of telling them about our “Booking Direct Loyalty Programme.” I don’t call it exactly that, but something along those lines.
For example, you could write:
Thank you for your booking. Just to let you know that if you booked directly with us, your check-in time is 1 pm. If you booked via a third party (such as Booking.com), your check-in time is 3 pm.
The guest clearly can see that if they had booked directly, then they would have gotten an instant loyalty programme perk. But because they booked via Booking.com, they are being penalised with a late check-in. Let me let you in on a secret: The Grainary’s default check-in time is set at 1 pm, but for all OTA bookings, we set it at 3 pm! This will stick with the guests, promise. So much so that guests will, in fact, call us and ask to change their booking so they could book with us directly and check in earlier. In turn, they will cancel their Booking.com booking and saving us the commission costs.
Have a think about how you can use Instant Loyalty Programmes to boost your bookings. If you would like any help on this, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.