The travel sector has seen countless schemes designed to establish customer loyalty.
After all, at least in the case of InterContinental Hotels Group: “Loyalty members stay more and spend more,” said the hospitality company’s CEO, Keith Barr, in February. “They are also nine times more likely to book direct, which is the most profitable channel for our owners.”
Amid the pandemic, Barr said loyalty members also proved the most resilient. In turn, IHG Hotels & Resorts underwent “the biggest loyalty transformation in our history” in an effort to retain its loyal customers and attract those making their way back out onto the road.
Called IHG One Rewards, IHG says the revamped loyalty program is fully centered on its guests and includes richer benefits and more ways to earn – all powered by a new mobile app.
Expected to roll out in the coming weeks, the new mobile app is a key element to IHG One Rewards and sets a foundation for future growth, the company says. In addition to offering more personalization, the app will allow members to check in faster and stay better connected to the hotel.
On the personalization front, IHG is also introducing Milestone Rewards, a new technology-enabled platform that will allow members to choose the rewards they want.
Starting at 20 nights stayed, members will be offered a choice from a selection of rewards – including points, food and beverage credits and suite upgrades - every 10 nights, through 100 nights stayed.
“This is one of the largest and most comprehensive investments that IHG Hotels & Resorts has made in recent years. It’s also the biggest development we’ve made in the loyalty space since introducing the industry’s first loyalty program. We’re truly transforming guest experiences by giving our loyalty members more of what they want, more value and exciting benefits individually delivered via new technology with our new mobile app,” says Claire Bennett, global chief customer officer at IHG Hotels & Resorts.
“Built on feedback from our guests, hotel teams and owners, IHG One Rewards has a fresh look and feel and puts guests in control of their journey. It recognizes that no two members are the same and celebrates it – allowing guests to travel, and mark milestones, their own way.”
The company says all member benefits, including the launch of Milestone Rewards, will be available in early June.
French hospitality company Accor is also enhancing its loyalty program, Accor Live Limitless (ALL), which launched in early 2019, to give its members access to more destination-based experiences.
In partnership with entertainment discovery platform Fever, Accor will broaden the range of digital services it provides to ALL members, whether they’re looking for activities close to home or while traveling.
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In addition to existing ticketing access to sporting events, food festivals and concerts, the new service will offer ALL members the ability to reserve destination-based experiences such as immersive exhibitions, interactive theater and candle-lit classical concerts.
“We want to give our loyalty members - whether during their day-to-day lives or during vacations - the chance to easily reserve experiences at any time in the heart of the city they’re in. As well as accessing numerous events and enjoying life to the full, they will be able to use their points to make reservations earning even more in the process,” says Mehdi Hemici, Accor’s chief loyalty and partnership officer.
“Fever’s expertise will enable ALL– Accor Live Limitless to offer its members the best possible experiences. At launch, we have iconic destinations already live such as New York, Paris, Singapore or London. This new service will also appeal to new members who will find our program even more attractive. This is further proof that the group’s operations extend beyond the walls of its properties once again underlining our augmented hospitality strategy.”
Accor chief digital officer Maud Bailly has previously described the augmented hospitality strategy as “an everyday lifestyle companion, both at home and everywhere in the world” that enhances members’ lives with extraordinary experiences.
The service is currently available in 50 gateway cities and will soon expand to 100 destinations around the globe. With Fever, which raised $227 million in funding with a valuation of $1 billion in January, the program will give ALL members access to 1,500 activities.
One hotel brand looking to “disrupt” the loyalty space is Amsterdam-based CitizenM, which is introducing mycitizenM+, described as “the ultimate hotel membership.”
“There are no points to collect. No weird levels to achieve. MycitizenM+ is a simple membership – just sign up once to enjoy discounts and perks,” the company says.
With mycitizenM+, members will receive a guaranteed 10% off, free late checkout, a first-in-line spot with chat service and a guaranteed room if they book at least 48 hours in advance.
The service costs a monthly fee and is good for an entire year.
Through testing, market research and validation, CitizenM says it discovered that “peace of mind” in terms of price and room availability are the highest criteria for frequent travelers.
“Loyalty programs and hunting for points are a thing of the past,” the company posted on LinkedIn.
What’s in, is “a membership developed with the business travelers, freelancers, digital nomads, creative consultants and all mobile citizens of the world in mind.”
In 2020, CitizenM launched a corporate subscription service in a bid to attract loyalty from companies and employees looking for a place to work and stay.
However, its loyalty ambitions extend far beyond individual experiences and group retreats. Specifically, CitizenM wants to cultivate loyalty in the online world, last week announcing it will build a hotel in the metaverse.