When it comes to hotel brand loyalty, the 2011 forecast does not look good. According to an annual survey by TripAdvisor, there was a severe drop in hotel brand loyalty this last year, the amount of people saying they are loyal to one hotel name dipping from 59 percent to 39 percent. Travel experts and analysts speculate that the economy could be the main reason for the decline, the recession causing more people to question prices even on quality products. Another reason people are changing their tendencies is due to more access to other options. With all the social media and review-based websites out there, people have a wealth of information available to them, which makes it easier to make frugal and savvy decisions.
So what is keeping people faithful to their brands? Rewards programs. A huge factor in maintaining client loyalty, hotel reward programs provide quality benefits, upgrades and services that make for a more intimate experience. But no matter what a hotel gives to a client, it all comes down to how the brand interacts with the guest. All the upgrades in the world cannot replace a friendly customer service experience, and guests appreciate personal attention that can make them feel like the only people in the hotel.
One of the biggest mistakes airlines have made is their lack of effort to reach out to travelers and make them loyal customers. Unless someone is a frequent flier on an airline, he or she will probably not receive the kind of treatment that will make them feel appreciated as a client. In fact, the main reason people say they are not loyal to airlines is because the company has not done anything to deserve the loyalty.
A hotel brand taking the necessary steps to show its appreciation for its customers is Preferred Hotel Group. Their I Prefer program lets travelers sign up for free and take advantage of special services right away. Where other reward programs require customers to build up points or stay a certain number of nights before cashing in on upgrades, I Prefer gives them automatic benefits at no fee. Who wouldn’t want to get extra amenities or priority check-in or exclusive offers just for becoming a member? The program also offers online booking rewards, like complimentary breakfasts and rounds of golf. There are a number of exclusive hotel deals and partner companies offers that members can take advantage of, all for no cost.
With loyalty rates dropping by 20 percentage points this year, hotel brands need to find ways to make their customers feel special; that their business is greatly appreciated. Every guest is looking for a memorable vacation, and hotels need to go out of their way to provide that. Some people are happy with a few extended amenities, such as 24-hour access to hotel facilities, free coffee in the rooms and the lobby, free wi-fi and complimentary food. Others are looking for better customer service and a welcoming atmosphere. Still others feel that competitive prices and discounts are essential to win their loyalty. When it comes down to it, though, every guest is looking to be amazed with their hotel experience, and even if the smallest gesture can win them over, it’s worth doing.