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How to start a hotel loyalty program for your venue

Posted by Emma Worden on Apr 27, 2021 10:37:43 AM

One of the key takeaways the hospitality industry has learned during the pandemic is that the playing field has changed to embrace new and elevated customer expectations. These predominantly revolve around improving health and safety standards to appeal to post-pandemic travelers, who will choose hotels that want to make them feel safe and taken care of.

In this new environment of hospitality and changing customer expectations, the loyalty of your guests will also be affected. If you fail to anticipate their health and safety needs and translate them into all the right precautions – they will likely go to your competitors. All of these emerging challenges caused by the pandemic need to be addressed in your loyalty programs, too. 

In this blog post, Emma Worden takes you through the steps to take when setting up your loyalty program for your hotel. 

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Although the industry has experienced significant issues, these programs are your opportunity to set the tone with your current customers, but also to attract new ones. To keep guests coming in and retain your long-lasting customers, you need to make them feel connected to your hotel brand. Here’s what you can do!


 

Find select and trustworthy partners

As a hotel, you shouldn’t work on your own in your area to build up your customers’ loyalty. After all, your hotel is only one part of the local experience, and the more you can offer, the more enticed they will be. For example, hotels often partner up with local cafes and restaurants, offering discounts to local venues, but also discounted local tours.

Ideally, you can leverage a local network of hospitality services that will create a wholesome, unique experience and build up your customers’ loyalty. If they book through a specific platform, they can get a discount. If they stay with you, they can grab a free cup of coffee from a local cafe or get a complimentary breakfast.


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Leverage tech and digital on the premises

Technology plays a huge role in how customers interact with hotels in these modern times, but digital and tech tools also help you understand what your customers enjoy the most. To leverage technology, hotels can use commercial digital signage that will portray their most recent loyalty programs, reviews of the hotel, and branded videos to showcase the scope of their customers' experience.

You can introduce interactive displays, too, to simplify restaurant booking and to give essential information to your guests about navigating your hotel premises, available features, and entertainment, and notify them of upcoming events. If there’s a band playing in your restaurant on that night or that week, you can use your digital displays to upsell your customers and inspire them to book a table at your restaurant – accruing points for your loyalty program.



Personalization steals the spotlight

The value of any reward is in the eyes of your specific guest. To truly impress your guests, you need to consider personalized rewards that will make your business all more appealing and help you build long-lasting relationships.

For example, adding personalized cards in your customers' room to greet them and offer a surprise discount or complimentary massage will send their loyalty through the roof. You have access to your customer’s data, so make sure to utilize it to build a connection with your guests. From sending personalized birthday presents from your hotel – be it a complimentary bottle of champagne at your restaurant’s dinner, or a box of their favorite chocolates sent up to their room, there are multiple ways you can make your guests feel valued.New call-to-action



Online and offline rewards to consider

The pandemic has taught us to appreciate contacts, networking, and all kinds of socialization that are considered atypical. We’ve seen an increase in digital and online events, so hotels need to pick up their pace at embracing similar endeavors. 

What that means for your loyalty is that you can offer digital freebies, such as travel guides, but also set up social media campaigns (including contests and guest-generated content) that will ultimately reward those who engage with your brand the most. Digital engagement is a brilliant way to devise rewards your guests will love even when they don’t get to visit your hotel, which will in turn keep your brand in the minds of your audience.


 

Take note of business guests, too

As a hotel, you most likely attract a specific kind of guests, but for most hotels, this means a variety of people looking to stay because of a local business event or for the sake of business meetings, too. You might attract regular family tourists, too, but if your niche is business hospitality, then you need to make sure that your clientele gets targeted rewards.

  • Design unique loyalty programs for businesses who send their employees regularly to your hotel. From discounted rooms, all the way to a free pass to the local golf club can mean a world of a difference.
  • Create a targeted newsletter to offer team-building and corporate activities in your hotel.
  • A pampering sauna or massage can help your business guests feel more relaxed and thus more welcome – include it in your offers and suggestions.

 

Check-in with your guests to see your impact

Surveys are a common occurrence for any business, so why not your hotel? However, instead of limiting your surveys and questionnaires to your hotel experience and general questions, you should expand your research to look into your rewards and loyalty schemes. 

After all, no matter how much information you derive from your online analytics tools and hotel data, you also need to learn how your guests really feel about certain rewards.

Maybe they aren’t that impressed with the free cocktail menu while they’re waiting for a business event, but perhaps they do love the complimentary bottle of their favorite wine waiting for them in their room. 


Whether it's due to a major event such as a pandemic, or a locally specific change in guest preferences, loyalty is an ever-evolving idea that can change in a heartbeat. To kick-start or improve your current loyalty program, you need to stay on track with industry changes and recognize the right moment to offer specific rewards to your guests. The most important thing of all is to keep learning from your target audience so that you can improve based on their experiences and ideas – they’ll value your effort all the more for it!


Emma is a digital marketer and blogger from Sydney. She has worked with Australian startups on business and marketing development. Emma writes for many industry-related online publications, is an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog, and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University. She is Interested in marketing, startups and latest business trends.
Follow Emma on Twitter.


 

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Topics: Hospitality operations, Hospitality insights, Hospitality managers