As a result of the pandemic, the entire travel industry should rethink loyalty programs to successfully adapt to the new normal and deliver guests’ personalized experiences. Traditional loyalty programs, therefore, expect a shift toward experience-based personalization. Currently, loyalty programs are at a turning point, becoming more value-oriented rather than price-oriented.
According to recent research, the main obstacles to travel return are various restrictions and financial ability. Namely, 32% of respondents expressed concern about their financial situation.
Measuring the success of a loyalty program is engagement driven by personalized digital interactions. Creating such moments require relevant guest information.
During 2020, changes significantly affected the world’s leading hotel chains, which kept the relevance of their loyalty programs through constant adjustments.
The Hilton Honors program has extended statuses and paused the expiration of points for its users. Hilton also raised the deadlines for awards.
Flexible cancellations and return of deposits
Most hotel chains have begun to offer more flexibility when changing or cancelling reservations after a pandemic was declared, showing sensitivity to financial and safety limitations that many guests faced.
Accor, the European hospitality giant, allowed program members to earn and use reward points for bar and restaurant orders, even when not staying at a hotel.
Loyalty Programs Remain Relevant
In the context of the post-pandemic period, loyalty programs are taking on a whole new meaning. The short-term adjustments we mentioned above are not just an echo of the passing circumstances.
As we are witnessing, the changes are constant.
Those who already use loyalty programs will have to rely heavily on their database to get guests back. It means new promotions, coupons, discounts and editing a database with designing marketing campaigns to attract new and old loyal customers.
It is time for those who didn’t use loyalty programs so far to reconsider this possibility seriously.
What do millennials want?
Millennials have gained a bad reputation concerning loyalty, but they owe it to an outdated marketing approach that this generation sniffs for miles. No generation so far has appreciated quality marketing strategies as millennials do.
Millennials are new guests who have a completely different mindset about brand loyalty and loyalty programs.
Millennials use loyalty programs because brand loyalty
46% of millennials joined loyalty programs primarily because of loyalty to the brand and 41% because of the program’s simplicity. If you burden your program with restrictions or conditions, millennials will skip your program.
Free or discounted stay
51% of millennials prefer to use their points for, logically, free visits or discounts, as opposed to 19% of those who would opt for an upgrade of an accommodation unit.
Because this generation is hyperconnected and tech-savvy, there are countless options to connect. Remember, 49% of millennials prefer communication via email.
Millennials love mobile apps.
Mobile apps will play a key role in involving millennials in the loyalty program, but only if you prove they are helpful enough to download.
Everything comes to an end.
Without a doubt, these are challenging times for hospitality and travel.
Knowledge and understanding of guests, personalized experience, appropriate technological solutions, exceptional service and communication will keep guests returning. Hoteliers and vacation rentals can use this period to align their loyalty strategies, program benefits, and guest engagement.