Customer loyalty remains challenging in hospitality

Published: 27 January 2020 - 4:45 p.m.
By: Hotelier Middle East Staff

At a time where hotel distribution is increasingly competitive and digital sales are growing, customer loyalty is vital to profitability. This conclusion was drawn from HDL20, an event organised by Roiback, a specialist and leader in the management of the direct channel of hotel sales. Participating at the event held within the framework of the International Tourism Fair (FITUR) in Madrid were experts from Google, Meliá Hotels International, Iberia and Hotelinking.

The event hosted 150 hoteliers, decision makers and media. Roiback managing director Rebeca González kicked of proceedings by analysing the requirements of the traveller: “A customer will be satisfied when he feels comfortable, pleased and happy throughout his experience, which must be shown in all the touch points: from the very first moment when he searches the hotel on Google until he stays there, going through any questions he may ask, and of course throughout the stay and the post-stay.”

According to recent figures from the company, a loyal and regular customer can spend 67% more than a new one, and also allows the hotel to reduce the acquisition cost if the customer reserves through the direct channel instead from another platform. On this matter, Gónzalez explained that the key issue in order to obtain and retain a customer is: “offer benefits that favour direct sales and then build communication strategies focused on loyalty and on making them to repeat the stay. Customers want instant gratification, flexibility, simplicity and, above all, customisation, according to their preferences or expectations”. In this respect, the price is also important since “46% of consumers will consider that a loyalty programme is not good if it does not offer economic advantages or incentives.” In addition, according to an Oracle study, 86% of consumers would be willing to share personal data if they received bonuses adapted to their profile.

Google business travel lead in Southern Europe Leonor de L'Hermite pointed out that: “54% of loyalty program members in the travel sector in the United States are not active,” so it is “key” to understand the audience and their intention to maximise the resources invested. "Google has registered up to 74 points of contact on the customer's journey until they make a reservation and that is where machine learning allows us to understand the signals that work during trip planning to identify the user's intention." In this sense, the company identified four profiles with different behaviours, from “traditional loyalty” or “experiential loyalty” to “opportunist” or “completely disenrolled” and highlighted the importance of allocating resources to attract the first two profiles. De L’Hermite also said: "The best way to retain a customer is to respond to their needs," in a context in which "57% of travellers believe that companies in the travel sector should customise the information based on their preferences."

On another panel comprising Meliá Hotels international global director of loyalty María Romero, Hotelinking CEO Daniel Alzina and Iberia director of loyalty Silvia Espinosa de los Monteros, the importance of every hotel or hotel chain, regardless of its size, having a loyalty programme adapted to its characteristics was highlighted. "The ultimate goal of any loyalty programme is to make the customer repeat, but to get him to book through the direct channel, in order to minimise the cost of acquisition," said Alzina.

Last year, Roiback launched Loyalty Pro, a solution that makes it easier for hotels to integrate this strategy into their direct channel to strengthen the customer relationship in the long-term, and which has given very positive results for the hotels.

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