Direct spending in the travel industry last year averaged $2.7 billion a day, $113.1 million an hour, $1.9 million a minute, and $31,400 a second, according to research by the US Travel Association. Additionally, the global hotel industry revenue was predicted to reach $550 billion in 2016 in the US alone.
As you can see, the travel and hospitality industry is thriving and growing with no signs of slowing down in the near future. With this tremendous amount of momentum, however, comes intense competition from brand-to-brand, urging travel and hospitality companies that are serious about customer loyalty to up their customer experience games.
One primary way to accomplish this is to build a loyalty program that is centered around improving customer experience. Let’s look at some research to determine what that means.
Colloquy recently surveyed 2,000 US consumers to get more information about the particular functional appeals of a site operated by a loyalty program. The results indicated the essential demands were personalization and convenience.
- 83% of respondents said they would use it if it were easy to use
- 75% of respondents said they would use it if it allowed easy itinerary adjustments
- 69% of respondents said they would use it if it allows for paying all travel expenses with loyalty points
- 69% of respondents said they would use it if it provided information about planned travel destinations
- 64% of respondents said they would use it if it kept track of travel preferences
- 56% of respondents said they would use it if it provided personalized travel recommendations
- 53% of respondents said they would use it if it offered customization of in-flight amenities
Personalization and convenience are clearly awesome criteria for loyalty programs, and also right in line with the 2017 Deloitte recommendations for meaningful growth within every facet of the travel and hospitality industry.
Now that we have some ideas of what the focus of building a strong loyalty program for travel and hospitality should be, let’s look at emails from 7 companies that use personalization and convenience to effectively highlight their loyalty programs and solidify a positive customer experience.
1. The Savoy
The Savoy sends personalized emails to their loyalty members with information that matches personal preferences, past bookings, or upcoming trips. In the example below, The Savoy sends personalized recommendations to a subscriber who is about to visit London. With this type of targeting, loyalty customers receive only emails that are bound to pique individual interests.
Key Takeaways from The Savoy:
- Segment your loyalty subscriber lists based on personal preferences
- Send recommendations for enhanced travel experiences based on subscriber bookings
- Personalize emails with subscriber names and any relevant account information
2. The Drake
The Drake guides loyalty members through a personalized journey based on triggers. For example, if a member clicks on a specific part of a newsletter and completes an action, the customer will get an automated follow-up email that pertains to the corresponding action. This type of email marketing automation creates highly personalized experiences, leading to a better customer experience.
In this newsletter, The Drake also provides an excellent customer experience by making booking easy. You’ll notice at the end of each section, the Drake includes a button that links to a page where customers can make reservations. The Drake also adds value by featuring upcoming events near The Drake hotel.
Key Takeaways from The Drake
- Use marketing automation to customize the loyalty member journey
- Make booking easy by providing direct links to your reservation page in your email copy
- Improve the customer experience by featuring fun events near the customer’s destination
3. Virgin Experience Days
Virgin Experience Days uses email to highlight their loyalty programs in various ways. One way they continue to reward loyal customers is by sending them promotions for discounts on future purchases. This both rewards customers for their business and keeps them coming back for more.
Your loyalty members have favorites when it comes to travel. Virgin Experience Days does well by remembering this. They segment their lists to offer local and relevant promotions for deals on customer favorites. In this case, the favorite is London. When you know your loyalty members’ preferences, you can tailor your content to match their interests.
Key Takeaways from Virgin
- Reward your loyalty members with special discounts and promotional offers
- Segment your lists based on location preferences to feature appealing travel deals
4. Wonderful Union
If you are a smaller or new travel and hospitality company, it can seem impossible to make the jump from sending out generic newsletters to having thousands of full-fledged members of your loyalty program. Thankfully, it’s not impossible.
One of the best ways to make the jump is to focus on the invite just like in this email from Wonderful Union. In this email, Wonderful Union advertises all important upcoming events but also draws attention on how subscribers can join the loyalty program by clicking the bright pink “Become a Fan Club Member” button. Plus, they give a little hint about the benefits involved in the program.
Key Takeaways from Wonderful Union
- Don’t be afraid to invite your subscribers to the club
- List some of the benefits of becoming a loyalty member in your emails
- Draw attention to your invite with sleek email design
5. Flight Centre
Flight Centre uses email marketing automation to welcome new subscribers to Club Red, their exclusive travel loyalty program. Additionally, Flight Centre invites subscribers to update their preferences from the get-go, so they can start sending personalized content right away.
Flight Centre also takes advantage of transactional emails to reward loyalty members with promotional codes for big shopping days.
Key Takeaways from Flight Centre
- Use marketing automation to welcome new subscribers to the loyalty club so they don’t get lost in the crowd and forget about you
- Invite loyalty members to update preferences so personalization becomes easier
- Send loyalty members promotional materials to encourage repeat bookings
6. Hotel Tonight
Hotel Tonight encourages loyalty as well as new customer acquisitions with benefits for referrals. In the email below, you’ll see loyalty members receive a unique referral code they can send to friends and family. When someone uses the code, both the loyalty member and new customer receive a $25 discount. This is a great way to capitalize on family travel all while rewarding customers for spreading the word.
Key Takeaways from Hotel Tonight
- Include rewarding referral benefits with your loyalty program
- Use smart email marketing to encourage customer referrals
7. Thompson Hotels
Thompson Hotels goes the extra mile with their loyalty program by asking members for feedback after a booking or brand interaction. They then use this feedback to implement changes that will provide a better customer experience. If you are looking to go above and beyond, then try emulating the same process shown in the email from Thompson Hotels below.
Key Takeaways from Thompson Hotels
- Elicit feedback from your loyalty members to improve your company
- Make it easy to take the survey by including a link to the survey on a large button
- Reference the encounter you are asking for feedback about in the copy of your email
When 75% of travelers are willing to share personal information in exchange for loyalty points, promotions, coupons, or priority service, it’s clear how important it is to have a loyalty program. However, having a loyalty program will only get you halfway there. You also need to invest in smart email marketing to promote your loyalty program, reward your customers, and keep them coming back for more.