The operating environment for travel and hospitality companies, such as airlines and hotels, steadily evolves. More frequent travel and more emerging market travellers present new opportunities. At the same time the growth of sharing business models, like AirBnB, and low cost competitors, raises new questions about what customers truly value.
To reflect these commercial realities, companies need to revisit what is offered by a loyalty program to ensure it serves the purpose of maintaining a strong brand connection with customers. In recent years, loyalty programmes across industries have ceased to be differentiators, devolving from instruments that actually drive loyalty to ways for brands to compete by simply offering the most ‘reward.’
Do we understand what will bring success for valued loyalty programmes in today’s travel landscape? The fundamental dictum is: understand what actually drives customer behaviour and rethink the role of the programme in delivering against it.
Companies first need to understand what their customers truly value, and understand that they probably don’t all value the same things. This understanding can be achieved by segmenting the customer base properly: who are the different groups that often use your services? Do they have different travel profiles and needs, and what value do they bring to the company?
Next, carefully align the benefits offered: which benefits matter to whom? Use customer insights to drive the structure of the programme, developing tiers that match as closely as possible a given customer profile to their most valued customer experience elements.
Finally, offer flexibility and breadth. One of the most common customer requests is for more control and a sense that they have access to a wide range of relevant benefits.
Brands like Marriott and Starwood have also developed highly rated loyalty programmes by listening to customer needs. They have innovated ways to offer greater flexibility, additional services and even curated experiences that could not be accessed elsewhere, such as SPG Moments which enables top tier members VIP access to key events.
Custom Travel Clubs are experts in building travel loyalty programs customized to each individual traveler’s needs.
Disclaimer: This article was first published on PR Newswire.
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