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May 1, 2019

How Reward Programmes are Re-winning Loyalty in the Luxury Space

The internet has transformed the way each and every business operates. From global mega-corporations to your favourite local boutique, nothing has been left untouched by the ever-expanding web.

You could happily discuss its effects until the cows come home, of course, but perhaps the largest change wrought by the modern age is the rise of comparison websites. For consumers, they offer a simple way to compare the cost of a product or service against hundreds of competitors.

For brands though? Well, it means being compared directly against their competition with one factor acting as a key comparison point – price.

Only one company can be the cheapest and, so, loyalty is in short supply.

It’s an issue that’s cropping up across virtually every luxury sector, including the online casino world, where operators are facing an arms race to offer the most generous sign-up bonuses in order to win potential customers. It’s a far cry from the days where a local casino operator would monopolise a market.

For the hospitality sector, it’s posed a question; do they engage in a race to the bottom, or do they focus on keeping customers coming back, time after time.

The answer has given rise to a new generation of loyalty and reward programmes which are designed to reward their most high-value customers with discounted rooms anywhere in the world, special surprises and treatment which is typically reserved for VIP guests only.

In a world where the average traveller is looking for the perfect balance between luxury and affordability, a well-positioned loyalty programme means that for those that find themselves travelling the world for both business and pleasure, there becomes only one option.

But what are the loyalty programmes which are impressing in 2019? Join us as we take a look at two of our favourite luxury hotel reward programs.

Marriott Bonvoy

No two trips are the same, and so any loyalty programme should encompass a broad enough range of hotels to ensure that no matter where you travel or the amount of time you intend to spend in your hotel, there’s a property for you.

In February of 2019, the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Marriott Rewards programmes were merged into one single loyalty program: Marriott Bonvoy.

Encompassing luxury hotel chains like Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Edition, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels and JW Marriott alongside 24 other major hotel chains throughout the price spectrum, this combined loyalty programme contains over 6,700 properties covering virtually every destination on earth.

We’re talking about properties like the astonishing Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, the AL Manara hotel in Saraya Aqaba and the Chicago Ritz-Carlton Residences.

It’s a points-based system, with 10 base points earned per US dollar for booking at a hotel in the program, with further points earned through Hertz car rentals, cruises from Cruises Only or from taking additional hotel services, like a round of golf, spa treatments or room service. Oh, and, of course, if you prefer hotel points to air miles, that’s an option too.

Of course, the number of points required for free overnight stays varies by hotel. Hotels at the top end of the range require 85,000 points for a free night, whilst budget properties only require 7,500 per night.

The key to earning these points is through the loyalty programme. Stay for 10 nights a year and you’ll be on the Silver Elite tier which earns you an extra 10% on hotel stays. Stay for 25 and you’ll be a Gold Elite member, with 25% extra points per night. 50 nights earns you 50% and so on, with the top tier as Ambassador Elite, which requires 100 nights per year and at least $20,000 (£15,453) spend in their hotels. For that, you’ll receive 100% more points per night, which should help you quickly rack up enough points for the truly luxurious hotels in their stable.

Predictably, there’s also a branded credit card which builds up points with each purchase. We won’t get into the details of it here, but it’s there if you’re truly committed to the point-gathering cause.

Best of all? The programme is free to join. For the keen traveller, it makes for a hugely appealing deal.

World of Hyatt

Hyatt may lack in sheer scale compared to the likes of the Marriott family of hotels, with just 750 hotels, but it boasts a collection of luxury hotels which make it hugely appealing to the discerning traveller.

Properties like the Park Hyatt New York, Buenos Aires, Sydney and the gorgeous Palacio Duhau would shine brightly in any hotel chains portfolio and when you’re travelling to the biggest cities on earth, you can be certain you’ll find a Hyatt hotel befitting of your status.

Their rewards programme, World of Hyatt, is split across four tiers: Member, Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist. They’re opaque terms, but behind them are some enticing rewards.

The first level, Member, requires that you simply sign up. You’ll save up to 10% at participating hotels, enjoy members-only benefits, earn points (5 per dollar) in hotel spend and nights and be able to use those points for free nights and you’ll get one free night after staying in five different Hyatt hotels.

Discoverist adds a 10% bonus to point accrual, free bottled water, late checkout and premium internet. Explorist (50,000 points per year or 30 nights) bumps your points bonus to 20% and includes upgraded rooms, based on availability and Globalist (100,000 points per year or 60 nights) has a 30% increase to points, room upgrades across the board, Club Lounge access and a 4 pm late checkout.

Those are just a few of the benefits of the program, of course, and just like Mariot Bonvoy, there’s an associated credit card which can help you earn points no matter where you spend that we won’t get into here. For the traveller who naturally gravitates towards Hyatt’s selection of luxury hotels though, it can be an exceptionally intriguing option.

Wrap Up

Loyalty programmes like this are proving essential in the luxury hotel hospitality space. High-value customers make up just a small percentage of the client base of hotels and so, keeping them from straying to competing hotel chains is vital for the continued health of the business.

Whether you’re already what hotels would consider a high-value customer or are somebody whose aspirations point in that direction, joining such programmes mean that not only can your loyalty be rewarded, but you can sample the very best that the world of hospitality has to offer – often at no extra expense to yourself.

So, why wait? Start earning points today!

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