By: Sophie Talbot, Senior Director, HGBU Hotel Presales
There’s so much going on in the world of hotel loyalty these days. It seems that almost every hotel brand is offering some sort of new or updated program. Many leading brands use the Oracle Hospitality OPERA Customer Information System (OCIS) to manage their program, and in fact some of them are listed on USA Today’s list of the 16 best loyalty programs.
But as usual the world is changing. Recently released reports suggest that hoteliers will have to adjust the way they compete for guest loyalty as the traveler mix starts the steady and inevitable lean towards the millennial demographic. This week eHotelier published a report based on a study by the Bridge.Over Group which I think is a great start for a Gen X-er like me to start understanding the changes we need to provide.
What can hoteliers do to compete?
1. Know your customer base. Are you filling your hotel with high spending boomers and Gen X? If so, there is probably no need to move away from the traditional point-based loyalty program but rather keep working on enhancing the customer experience to make your guests feel welcome and valued. Some of my favorites in the “thinking out of the box” rewards are things like a balloon ride over Napa Valley, a behind the scenes tour of Wembley Stadium, and enrollment in the TSA Pre-Check program for highest tier guests.
If your hotel is mostly Gen X and increasingly millennial targeted, you might need to change things up and do some research. There is lots of information out there to give you a better idea of the millennial loyalty concept. Be creative.
2. Get Social. Sharing personal information and a reliance on recommendations is a staple for the millennial traveler and gives you essential, valuable insight into what is appealing or not to your customers.
3. Use Your Data. Gather as much useful data as you can on the spending habits and preferences of your customers, analyze it well, and identify unique opportunities where you can make the guest experience super special – happy customers share with friends!
4. Rethink Rewards and Points Systems. For hoteliers out there with the Oracle Hospitality OCIS system – in the upcoming version we give you the ability to award points on a far more granular level using RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) goals as opposed to straight forward nights/rooms/$$ targets.
5. Free WIFI. Without a doubt, free WIFI is the most globally requested additional service a hotel can give their guests.
6. Get mobile. Make sure you either have a great app available for use on mobile devices or a rock solid mobile or responsive website.
7. Get Local. Provide local content ranging from safe jogging routes to the best local bars, restaurants, coffeehouses, to a conveniently located yoga studio.
8. Ask Oracle Hospitality. All of the tips I have suggested can be achieved by using different products or services from the Oracle Hospitality team – just ask … We love hearing from you: OracleHosp_ww@oracle.com.