Expedia, Inc., is the first online travel intermediary to begin displaying a hotel chain’s discounted loyalty rates next to standard rates. It’s also the first to cheerlead for a hotel’s own loyalty program.
The first chain to participate is Red Lion, a 114-property brand in the US and Canada. For the past month, the chain has been offering its cheaper loyalty rates alongside its standard rates on Expedia.com and Hotels.com.
Customers are offered the cheaper loyalty rates as long as they agree to join the hotel’s membership program. (Those who already belong to the hotel’s program can claim the rate by signing in with their credentials.)
Over the course of the month, membership sign-ups more than quadrupled, says Red Lion.
Expedia is in “deep conversations with a lot of different chains” about offering similar arrangements, says Melissa Maher, SVP of its Global Partner Group. She added:
“We don’t anticipate we’ll do it with all chains. But we expect many chains that don’t have large marketing budgets will find it valuable as a way to help them to grow membership in their loyalty programs.”
Ordinarily hotels do not receive the name and email address of customers from online travel agencies (OTAs). Expedia’s test is notable for passing along those identifying details after a customer agrees.
Right now, Red Lion is exclusively offering its loyalty rates via Expedia, Inc., brands, though that’s partly a function of Expedia being the first to offer such an option.
Red Lion CMO Bill Linehan told Tnooz he would consider a similar offer from a comparable marketing channel “depending on the potential volume and capture opportunity.”
He said his brand is too small to go it alone and needs Expedia to reach a range of customers.
A tale of two strategies
Large hotel chains invented loyalty programs and discounted rates for members as ways to encourage repeat and direct bookings.