NATIONAL REPORT—Loyalty programs are a secret weapon for hotels. It’s been a rocky road since OTA’s first made their entrance into the market more than 20 years ago. At first heralded for their ability to expand a hotel’s reach to new audiences, hoteliers quickly realized that these third party bookings carried steep costs and had long term impacts on their ability to create personalized and lasting relationships with guests.
One of the most effective strategies used by hotels to fight back has been loyalty programs. Aimed at boosting retention and driving down acquisition costs, these programs traditionally reward guests based on number of room nights, booking behavior (i.e. reserving directly vs. through a third party), and overall spend across a portfolio of brands.
These programs have been very successful, with nearly 400 million people worldwide participating in a loyalty program and now ranking fourth in the top deciding factors for guests when booking a hotel.
Today, hoteliers find themselves in an environment where they are constantly challenged to elevate and evolve their loyalty programs to compete. And now many have begun to adapt their loyalty programs to include an additional aspect of the guest experience: F&B outlets.
Why add F&B to your hotel loyalty program?
Driven by a larger societal shift, F&B is having a renaissance in hospitality. We are now in an experiential economy where consumers seek new and exciting dining experiences both when they travel and in their day-to-day lives. This growing consumer segment creates a broader target audience for dining experiences and hotels are finding ways to harness the power of F&B to grow their businesses.
Incorporate F&B into your loyalty program, and you can create an opportunity for guests to engage and build loyalty with your brand when traveling—but also, more regularly, as they can drink and dine locally in their everyday life.
Here’s how leading hotel brands are incorporating F&B into their programs:
- Earn points based on F&B spend
- Redeem points at F&B outlets
- Offer preferred seating options or availability
- Provide discounts off food & beverage
- Receive complimentary upgrades (glass of champagne/free dessert)
- Offer exclusive access to culinary events and dining experiences
- Incentivize locals to dine at their at-home hotel restaurants and receive points to use for future stays while traveling
Additionally, F&B provides operators with a new set of data to use in creating personalized experiences for guests. In fact, according to a recent study by Oracle Hospitality, 83% of hotel guests prefer to redeem loyalty points or rewards for new alternative experiences based on their unique preferences.
How to get started adding F&B into your loyalty program?
Step one is making sure your F&B data is connected to your loyalty program. That means integrating your F&B systems, including your restaurant’s reservation system, CRM and point of sale, into your hotel’s property management system and CRM.
When you are able to connect the dots between loyalty tier, hotel stay details, and F&B spend and preferences, you can offer a truly personalized experience for your loyalty program patrons. This is what guests are craving, especially when it comes to program offers. And the data backs it up, with 65% of hotel guests thinking personalized offers based on purchase history are most appealing.
Imagine offering loyalty program guests a complimentary bottle of their favorite wine when they arrive for dinner? Or being able to acknowledge a top tier guest’s food allergies in their welcome basket upon check in. When your systems are connected, truly personalized hospitality becomes a reality.
The time to evolve your loyalty program is now, and with the right technology systems in place, your F&B outlets can be a meaningful part of that strategy.
To learn more, visit sevenrooms.com