Loyalty: The Next Generation

By: Guest Blogger

September 8, 2015

This article originally appeared in Hospitality Technology and can be read in full here.

Loyalty marketing has been defined as “the business process of identifying, maintaining and increasing the yield from best customers through interactive, value-added relationships.” That value-add is a two-way street. Just as operators expect to yield benefits such as increased sales from loyal customers, faithful guests are expecting and demanding more in exchange for their loyalty.

Monitoring and responding to feedback has become an integral component of loyalty strategies. Scott Weiler, vice president of marketing & communications at Sonesta Hotels (www.sonesta.com) saw a need for the management group to get more serious about listening to guest comments in order to improve the loyalty program as well as other elements that got guests to come back and tell others about Sonesta.

“The hotel experience is the only thing that drives lasting loyalty, so monitoring and measuring is at the core of our strategy,” Weiler says explaining why the brand turned to Clarabridge (www.clarabridge.com) for its customer experience management solution. The system provides real-time information to help managers understand what guests are saying and enables them to make rapid adjustments to service and experience to improve loyalty.

“The hotel industry has been measuring guest satisfaction for more years than any other industry, but what has changed dramatically is that it used to be a process built on paper and looked at in aggregate at the end of the month or quarter,” Weiler muses. “With these tools, we have access every minute of every day.”

The Clarabridge dashboard provides the tools to see what programs are succeeding, allowing managers to prioritize time and initiatives to focus on the right things. “The more you know about who guests are and how to market to them effectively to be more relevant in offers, that helps from a marketing perspective,” Weiler says, “but it doesn’t drive loyalty – it augments it.”
TradeWinds Resorts (www.tradewindsresort.com) uses Guest Research, Inc. (www.guestresearch.com) to filter internal comment scores, but found those comments weren’t necessarily translating to what was being said online. In order to merge those two entities, TradeWinds turned to Newbrand Analytics (www.newbrand-analytics.com), recently acquired by Sprinklr, to merge the feedback and get a comprehensive look at what guests were saying.

“We have seen there is a direct correlation between guest expectations and not only frequency of comments but the severity of comments,” Keith Overton, president & COO of TradeWinds Resorts says. “If you don’t know about it and are not able to deal with it, you’re kind of lost.”

Weiler agrees citing the growth of the Millennial marketshare as a major factor, pointing out that the generation has come of age in a world where they would never go to a hotel without checking online to see what others have said about it.

“You have to have good things being said about you,” Overton stresses. “Hotels and restaurants are held to higher standards than ever. An operation is judged on every single consumer’s opinion and is held accountable.”