How to Strengthen Your Loyalty Program to Increase Direct Bookings07th December 2017
Renowned as a powerful hotel marketing tool, a loyalty program can allow a hotel to capture data, stimulate repeat custom and add value to your hotels brand.
It is well known in the hospitality industry that retaining a past guest is more cost-effective than acquiring a new one. This is partly down to the fact that a past guest, specifically one who is member of a loyalty program, is highly likely to come back in the future if they feel valued and appreciated.
It is clear to see how different hotel loyalty programs try to stand out from each other – each offer an array of benefits and carefully adapt their rewards. As one of the UK’s most renowned hotel management companies, at Michels & Taylor we work closely with our hotels to implement strategies that will increase direct bookings. In this blog, our Commercial team explores how to strengthen your hotel’s loyalty program to maximise direct bookings and drive repeat custom.
Personalise the Experience
A little extra goes a long way. Personal touches and experiences will make your hotels loyalty program stand out from the competition. Guests certainly remember an attentive and personalised service; identifying the habits of your loyal guests can therefore allow you to optimise your guests’ experience on-site each time they stay which is something you competitors are unable to do.
Some examples of this can include; a hand written welcome note from the General Manager, a gift of their favourite wine or chocolate, reserving their usual table in the restaurant, recognising if it has recently been their birthday/anniversary, etc. These little extras will not only show attentiveness, but will showcase to your guest the level of service and consideration they can expect each time they choose to stay. They also help guests feel valued by the hotel, but it will see that their loyalty remains with you as they will want to book directly again in the future.
When guests book via OTAs, there is less chance to build a relationship or offer a tailored experience through a loyalty program compared to when they book direct. Building this relationship is crucial through the loyalty program – you can send regular personalised communication offering discounts, deals and incentives that not only thank them for their loyalty, but work to ensure a return visit giving you more control over your occupancy.
Diversify the Loyalty Program’s Rewards
By diversifying your loyalty program’s rewards, you can help elevate your brand and move on from the rate-only discounts which can often be very standard within the industry.
Consider offering rewards such as access to high speed Wi-Fi, free parking and spa discounts and not only will loyal customers be rewarded, but you will tempt new guests too. To promote the exclusivity of the loyalty program and to upsell services that will improve guests’ experience, hotels can offer a combination of rates discounts, offers and add-ons that will suit guests of all needs.
If you offer add-ons to your members, you will be able to directly challenge the rates parity with OTAs. In doing so, your hotel can differentiate itself from the OTAs and incentivise direct bookings by offering a better deal, all based on loyalty.
“A loyalty program is a key aspect of a hotel’s marketing strategy as it is a powerful and influential way to encourage your guests to book directly. Guaranteeing a dedicated experience and diversifying the rewards program will allow guests to feel valued and more inclined to book again in the future.”
Nicole Feldman, Head of Marketing
A personalised experience and diverse add-ons are two major aspects that loyal members are looking for when booking. As a hotel, you need to ensure that you manage these two aspects efficiently to encourage loyalty and ultimately, direct bookings.