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Why is it consumers who are also hotel guests consider grocery stores to have better loyalty programs than the hospitality industry?

Brand loyalty in the hospitality sector appears to be on the decline.  A new survey out by Deloitte found that travelers are only nominally loyal to airline or hotel brands.  In fact, only 8 percent of the 4,000 travelers surveyed in October 2012 are loyal to certain travel brands.

According to a recent USA Today article about the survey, the findings are not good news for the travel industry, which has been investing millions to attract and reward travelers with their frequent-guest programs.

The study also highlights how consumers even consider grocery store loyalty programs to be more rewarding and innovative than those run by hotels and airlines.  And, no big surprise here, travel decisions all come down to price, service and comfort.

Perhaps this loyalty can be gained back through highly innovative guest services offerings.  Travelers appreciate services that make them feel unique, like remembering a birthday or anniversary or waiving late checkout fees.  Providing a completely frictionless guest experience is paramount in an era where one bad travel occurrence can turn a guest away for a lifetime.

The USA Today article also quotes Mark Vondrasek, Starwood’s senior vice president of distribution, loyalty and partnership, where he discusses how Starwood has added perks such as letting elite members check in any time during the day. “It’s an investment that we’ve been very, very focused on over the last few years,” he said in the article.

From booking to checkout and beyond, guests need to feel cared about throughout the entire travel lifecycle.  By using data and analytics from actual behaviors and in-experience reporting, hoteliers can anticipate needs and make targeted, timely and personalized offers to guests that will help increase brand loyalty.

Although brand loyalty is down, with the right hospitality innovations, hoteliers can boost guest satisfaction and attract life-long guests.