image of loyalty member reward card

The saying that “trust is earned” couldn’t be more applicable than in our post-pandemic world of tourism and hospitality.

NB: This is an article from Hotelchamp

When brands across the world, hospitality and travel, in particular, started to experience the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, they struggled with finding ways to keep their loyalty programs valuable to their customers. Most hoteliers addressed this with free cancellation policies and adjustments to guests’ rewards privileges, while some are still scrambling to figure out what to do.

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What seems like an absolute disaster is an opportunity in disguise. Travel hasn’t gone anywhere because people will always have the urge to travel. In fact, Airbnb reported that 54% of travellers say they have already booked, are planning for travel, or expect to travel in 2021. With this in mind, hoteliers can prepare accordingly.

A Shift in The Market

The norm of loyalty points systems based on only transactions is no longer good enough for the post-pandemic traveller. In this survey by Oracle, 78% of the people surveyed prefer immediate benefits, rather than accumulating loyalty points and another 20% don’t join loyalty programs because the rewards offered don’t appeal to them. However, this doesn’t mean that loyalty programs should be scrubbed altogether. In the same study, 61% of travellers were more interested in selecting their own rewards and 54% were interested in room upgrades.

Oracle survey of hotel loyalty programs
Results from an Oracle survey about hotel loyalty programs.

Of course, people will still be motivated to gain and use their loyalty points, but with travel being less frequent these days, guests are far more focused on the experience. Taking this time to invest in some thorough UX research might be a good place to start. Knowing your customer base and understanding their needs is absolutely key in attracting new and returning hotel guests once travel picks up again. And when hotels can offer a more personalized experience for their guests, brand loyalty will follow.

Higher Expectations

Personalized doesn’t always have to mean complex or expensive. Knowing what’s important to your potential guests might just mean offering them the option to opt-out of housekeeping services in exchange for a free drink at the hotel bar. And with the average demographic quickly changing due to these unprecedented times, it would be wise to take advantage of online listening tools to learn more about your guests and how you can cater to them.

Read rest of the article at Hotelchamp