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Resources and guidance for supporting employees, customers, and partners during this unprecedented health crisis.

  • December 1, 2020

Earning loyalty in an altered marketplace demands personalized attention

Tanya Pratt
Associate Vice President, OPERA Cloud Strategy
This is a syndicated post, view the original post here

When Walt Disney Studios first developed the Disney Movie Insiders program it typified the quintessential loyalty initiative: Designed primarily for consumers of its in-home DVD and Blu-ray market, the program strictly rewarded Disney fans with points for their purchases.

But, like many loyalty program creators across industries, Disney questioned whether awarding points in such a narrow fashion truly engendered loyalty. Moreover, they wondered were they even rewarding the right behavior?

Such reflection triggered a revamp of the loyalty program. By employing more advanced technology and mining data, Disney recently made Movie Insiders "deeper and broader" to resonate with its best customers. For example, realizing that many of its fans also buy movie tickets at their local theater, Disney upgraded its app, allowing consumers to use it to scan their tickets and earn even more points. As reported in Diginomica, Disney's initiative marks another step toward "holistically" understanding consumer spending, calculating its total value, and rewarding it appropriately. Because when consumers feel genuinely valued, they'll reciprocate with real loyalty.

It's an example that hoteliers can take to heart, too, as they continue to enhance their loyalty efforts.

Many operators have pursued loyalty on a "stay-with-us-and-we'll-give-you-points" transactional basis. But it's important to grasp that stay frequency and recency are not the only measures of loyalty. Understanding loyalty's many facets is essential: If a guest is posting favorable reviews on social media, serving as brand ambassadors, and spending money in affiliated businesses such as restaurants and spas, shouldn't such behavior be recognized and rewarded, too?

More than ever before, hoteliers are realizing the importance of capitalizing on next-gen technologies that'll allow them to measure the full scope of their guests' allegiance. Cultivating loyalty is necessary not just to recover from COVID-19 and offset the persistent loss of business to OTAs, but because it's undeniably cost effective.

Hospitality Net cited the following: According to Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Meanwhile, PwC found that guests, on average, are willing to spend an extra $25 on their preferred hotel brand. Additional research shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5 percent increases profits by 25 percent to 95 percent.

The Holy Grail that hoteliers want to attain is a loyalty program that doesn't require a loyalty card. In other words, capture enough data - and glean insights from it - to reward guests at multiple touchpoints and in personalized, meaningful ways to create "emotional connections" with them.

An advanced hotel property management system can contribute significantly to that cause, for example, by housing a centralized repository of guest profiles. Historically, access to such rich data of consumers' preferences and transaction histories hasn't been readily available, because it's been stored in "silos." But a 360-degree view is essential to get an accurate picture of guests' needs and wants. Integrations with loyalty marketing software - such as Oracle CrowdTwist, which combines customers' brand engagement, social influence, and spend - can provide even greater understanding of guest behavior. Next-gen hotel PMS such as OPERA Cloud also taps the power of artificial intelligence for automated room assignments, ensuring guests not only receive the room they want but deserve.

There are immediate steps that hoteliers can take to improve their loyalty efforts, which were highlighted in an Oracle Hospitality research study that polled 8,000 consumers worldwide to identify key attributes of successful programs.

The importance of individualization clearly was evident in consumers' preferences for rewards: 61.2 percent said they are "interested or very interested" in being able to choose their rewards. Likewise, 56.5 percent want to be able to customize their hotel experience - for example, select a newspaper or set their own check-out time - and 54.3 percent want to be able to upgrade their room.

But no matter how attractive rewards might be, if a loyalty program is confusing to navigate or requires complex registration it's almost certain to fail. To help lower the barriers to participation, the research findings emphasize the importance of loyalty's three "Rs" - Be relevant, redeemable and reliable. Nearly one-third (29 percent) of survey participants said they don't join programs because it takes too long to earn rewards. One of the most important takeaways: It's vital to clearly and simply explain the path to earning rewards and dispense them early, often, and in a variety of ways. Guests should gain additional reward eligibility, for example, for expenditures on hotel services such as spa treatments or dining at on-property restaurants.

Walt Disney Studios embraced all three "Rs" when it enhanced its loyalty program using Oracle CrowdTwist. And Disney's work has just begun. According to the Diginomica article, Ruth Walker, vice president of CRM at Walt Disney Studios, said: "A lot of the investment in Disney Movie Insiders is because we want to scale. We want to capture more of our top-bucks customers, which we know really are proportionally great when it comes to our revenue…. This is really a great time to not only keep our loyal members that have stuck with us, but also grow the program to embrace a whole larger group of consumers."

The evolution of loyalty holds tremendous promise for hoteliers, too.

 

Oracle Hospitality brings over 40 years of experience in providing technology solutions to independent hoteliers, global and regional chains, gaming, and cruise lines. Our cloud-based, mobile-enabled solutions for property management, point-of-sale, distribution, and reporting and analytics lower IT costs and maximize business agility. Oracle Hospitality’s OPERA is recognized globally as the leading property management platform and offers open APIs to serve as a platform for industry innovation. Learn more at www.oracle.com/Hospitality. Get specific product information as quick as clicking right here.

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