A Question of Loyalty: Grow Your Base of Loyal Customers in Travel

We all know that acquiring a new customer costs more than nurturing an existing one, which is why developing a loyal base of customers is crucial to many brands. This is especially true in the travel and hospitality space where people are looking for a dependable experience regardless of where in the world they are. In hospitality alone, 37 percent of consumers show a high level of loyalty to the hotel where they stay.

Looking at loyalty specifically within the hotel industry paints a picture of why loyalty matters across the travel-sphere. Skift notes that the number of loyalty program members for major hotel chains increased an estimated 13.1 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year, putting membership numbers at 344 million.

While 344 million is an impressive number, Skift also notes that it’s likely that more than half of these memberships were inactive or lapsed, meaning the member hadn’t redeemed points or miles within the past year to 18 months.

Inactive memberships are more common than not — while the average U.S. household maintains more than 29 loyalty memberships, they only actively use 12 of them.

These stats aren’t much of a surprise given the competitive digital landscape. Thanks to technology, consumers have more options than ever when it comes to where to go, where to stay and how to get there; and their expectations are only rising.

So, how do you go about acquiring loyal customers and then continuing to demonstrate value so they engage further with your travel brand?

Leveraging relationships to extend your loyalty program’s reach: How Red Lion Hotels utilized our technology to build their customer base

Relationships offer a key opportunity when it comes to extending the reach of your loyalty program outside of standard marketing channels.

Using our usual test-and-learn approach — as well as our understanding of why it’s so important to innovate, drive value and bolster incremental demand for hotels — we worked with Red Lion to strengthen their member base.

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By showcasing the Red Lion Hello Rewards program and loyalty rates, we provide an incremental audience of travelers directly into their loyalty program. As a result, they gained more exposure for their loyalty offering while also growing room nights booked.

Melissa Maher, Senior Vice President, Global Partner Group, outlines the scope of the loyalty agreement and how it worked:

“Anyone searching on Expedia.com or Hotels.com sites, who wants to book a Red Lion Hotel Corp property, can access the Hello Rewards rates. By booking the rate on Expedia, the traveler is opting into the loyalty program and will receive confirmation details from Red Lion. The whole user experience is pretty frictionless for the consumer. The conditions are that the consumer is either an existing member or will become a new member. It’s a win-win all around. Consumers gain access to RLHC’s loyalty rates and associated member benefits while Red Lion drives new loyalty customer acquisition. In addition, the consumer will receive Expedia+ loyalty points.”

There are so many factors when it comes to getting travelers to your site — and then getting them to book. But we’ve seen how strategic marketing partnerships are influential and can ultimately make an impact.

All of us across the industry best serve consumers by continuing to understand their interests, influences and behaviors when it comes to booking travel and brand loyalty.

Contact us today about opportunities to expand the reach of your travel brand with our partnership.

Hari Nair

SVP & GM Account Management, Expedia Group

Hari is the SVP & GM Account Management with Expedia Group. Previously, Hari was the senior vice president of Expedia Group Media Solutions, the digital advertising arm of Expedia Group for four years. In that role, Hari Nair oversaw all facets of the business globally including product development and execution, engineering, operations, marketing, media sales and business development. Prior to that role, Hari was vice president and general manager of Orbitz.com and CheapTickets.com, responsible for overseeing retail operations and profitability of the business, brand strategy, marketing efficiency, and customer lifecycle management. Hari joined Expedia Group in 2002, and has managed and led market management operations in a variety of offices, including Dallas, New York and London. He also oversaw the company’s hotel supplier relations and directed lodging strategy and business for North America. Prior to joining Expedia, Hari worked in corporate training and food and beverage operations at Oberoi Hotels, a leading luxury hotel chain that owns and manages thirty hotels and five luxury cruisers across six countries under the ‘Oberoi’ & ‘Trident’ brands. Hari holds a master’s degree in Hotel Management from Cornell University.

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