A recent study showed that U.S. travelers are shunning airline loyalty programs. The core driver for this change is that travelers seek out the lowest fares, rather than having a relationship with a particular airline.
In addition, there’s a perception that these loyalty programs don’t offer any true benefits, which has been reinforced by airlines like Delta reducing the number of perks for frequent flyers.
For hoteliers, there are some parallel lessons that could be learned from this study.
First, the core focus in the hospitality arena should be all about fostering relationships with guests that truly matter. Hotel guests want to have an emotional connection with their preferred hotel brands. This concept is critical for developing high-level strategies for building loyalty.
In addition, hoteliers need to understand what is important to the customers of their hotel, and its market segment, in order to offer products and services that matter most to guests and ensure that staff members can deliver on guests’ preferences.
Leveraging the right innovations that allow hotels to gather guest data to develop the right programs that best meet their needs should also be considered. This extends well beyond offering various perks and discounts, which fall more into the tactical side of building guest loyalty. In today’s commoditized era, hotels should seek additional value for guests by using software applications, guest-specific data, and a vision for tying them together to better understand guest preferences.
Travel loyalty does not need to be a thing of the past. And, by taking the right strategic approaches, it is possible for the hospitality arena to avoid the current fate of the airlines – where price trumps everything else.