How can you survive the impact of the economic crisis through loyalty programs?

The tourism industry is among the industries that global economic crises impact the most. Even if they do not have any financial problems, people from countries with the highest number of travelers might cut back on their expenses due to the uncertainty about the future. Although recent statistics show that there is some improvement compared to previous years, people have not completely abandoned their hesitation. In times of financial constraints, guests planning their vacation for the upcoming periods tend to be more selective than ever, so they aim to use their budgets most efficiently.

Loyalty programs are highly instrumental in securing repetitive bookings, but the case is slightly different for countries that are hit by the economic crisis. According to a recent research carried out by Deloitte, loyalty programs do not seem to affect most of the tourists much when they are deciding where to stay at. Therefore, it might not be that easy to ensure that guests will prefer you just because they are “accumulating points”, unless you design your loyalty program properly.

So you might need some tips to revise your loyalty programs to provide the highest benefit possible and boost the returns of this investment.

Increase your communication channels

Customers prefer easily-accessible brands that they can promptly receive information from. In our era, you can communicate with a customer through smart phones, tablets and PCs using social media or messages. However, some of your guests will still prefer one-on-one communication channels despite the ever-increasing use of technology, so you should increase the number of methods and platforms to connect with your loyal customers without overlooking the traditional communication channels such as telephone and mail.

Be creative with your loyalty programs

We believe that the main reason behind the low impact of loyalty programs, as revealed by the Deloitte’s research, is that all of them are similar to each other and they cannot be customized. Advantages such as small-scale discounts or massage coupons granted to guests in return for their accumulated points are no longer considered as advantages. When determining vacation packages, hotels should come up with new methods and definitely consider many other advantages such as free-of-charge concerts, morning tours, a special dinner, early check-in and late check-out options, dedicated customer representatives. For example, some hotels involve their customers in their program-planning process, so they simply allow them to have a word, which makes them feel they are valued and have a voice in the process.

Expand the flexibility of rewarding memberships

Granting discounts and rewards based on points collected during accommodations is basically a typical method. However, one should not consider ancillary services provided at a property separately from these offers. Therefore, your membership-card based loyalty program should cover as many things as possible for your own sake. It may also be useful to consider offering discounts and promotions in hotel stores and other extra services, such as in rooms and restaurants.

Seek collaboration

Extending the scope of your loyalty program to ‘internal’ services might be a good idea to make it diverse, but such extension can be made ‘externally’ as well, i.e. by collaborating with other firms’ loyalty programs. It is possible to see the collaborations between airlines and hotels and rent-a-car companies on the basis of mile-accumulation programs. Combining your own loyalty program with other elaborately-prepared loyalty programs will probably prove to be the best extension effort.

Loyalty programs are crucial for making sales to many groups, from tourists coming from the countries hit by the economic crisis to guests you would like to see again. You can make a difference by adopting the right approach for this matter and increasing your sales in return of your efforts.

HotelRunner is always there for you to transition your property to online and perform all kinds of promotional and online booking activities accordingly. Create your account for free now and start to win with HotelRunner immediately.

Cihan Coşkuntuncel

Director of Sales and Business Development

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