Today, 77 percent of affluent travelers belong to at least one hotel loyalty program. Traditionally thought to be of most value to the guest, these programs — because they provide the opportunity to capture valuable customer data — have now become enormously valuable to hotel brands as well. Used to customize marketing initiatives and to identify trends within various sub-groups (e.g., VIP members, Asia-based members, last-minute bookers), loyalty program data can range from something as personal as favorite pillow type to something as technical as the digital platform on which a room was booked. Our research shows that more than three quarters of the 57 brands included in this year’s Digital IQ Index: Hotels currently offer some type of loyalty program. The robustness of the data collected by these programs varies widely, however. See the chart below (click for greater detail) for a closer statistical look:
A well-executed example of a loyalty program is Shangri-La’s Golden Circle club, where members are given numerous opportunities to rack up points (and leave an information trail), right from the beginning. From downloading the app to participating in interactive discussions, Golden Circle follows a low-effort, high-reward model that allows members to always be earning on an iPhone, iPad or Android–and for the hotel to always be tracking their browsing and spending habits on all platforms. Another unique feature the Golden Circle guests enjoy is a chance to win a three-night stay at the Shangri-La property of their choice for sharing their travel stories in both English and Chinese via the mobile app. A prime example of innovation that works in favor of both the guest and the hotel.