Tech is powering the new look of hotel loyalty programs

The travel industry has seen countless programs designed to build customer loyalty.

After all, at least in the case of InterContinental Hotel Group“Loyal members stay more and spend more,” hotel company CEO Keith Barr said in February. “They are also nine times more likely to book direct, which is the most profitable channel for our owners.”

Amid the pandemic, Barr said loyal members have also proven to be the most resilient. In turn, IHG Hotels & Resorts underwent “the biggest loyalty transformation in our history” with the goal of retaining loyal customers and attracting those who are back on the road.

Called IHG One Rewards, IHG says the revamped loyalty program is completely customer-centric and includes richer perks and more ways to earn — all powered by a new mobile app.

Scheduled to roll out in the coming weeks, the new mobile app is a key component of IHG One Rewards and lays the foundation for future growth, according to the company. In addition to offering more personalization, the app will allow members to check in faster and stay better connected to the hotel.

On the personalization front, IHG is also introducing Milestone Rewards, a new technology platform that will allow members to choose the rewards they want.

Starting at 20 nights spent, members will be offered a choice of a selection of rewards – including points, food and beverage credits and suite upgrades – every 10 nights, up to 100 nights spent.

“This is one of the largest and most comprehensive investments made by IHG Hotels & Resorts in recent years. It’s also the biggest development we’ve made in loyalty since introducing the industry’s first loyalty program. We are truly transforming the customer experience by giving our members more of what they want, more value and exciting benefits through new technology through our new mobile app,” said Claire Bennett, Global Chief Customer Officer at IHG Hotels & Resorts.

“Based on feedback from our guests, hotel teams and owners, IHG One Rewards has a new look and puts guests in control of their trip. He recognizes that no two members are the same and the famous – allowing guests to travel and mark milestones, in their own way.

The company says all member benefits, including the launch of Milestone Rewards, will be available in early June.

Discover Accor

French hotel company Accor is also strengthening its loyalty program, Accor Live Limitless (ALL), launched in early 2019, to give its members access to more destination-based experiences.

In partnership with the entertainment discovery platform FeverAccor will expand the range of digital services it offers to ALL members, whether they are looking for activities close to home or on the go.

In addition to existing ticketing access to sporting events, food festivals and concerts, the new service will offer ALL members the ability to book destination-based experiences such as immersive exhibitions, interactive theater and classical concerts by candlelight.

“We want to give our loyal members – whether in their daily lives or on vacation – the ability to easily book experiences at any time in the heart of the city where they are. In addition to accessing many events and enjoying life to the full, they will be able to use their points to make reservations that earn even more on the way,” says Mehdi Hemici, Director of Loyalty and Partnerships at Accor.

“Fever’s expertise will allow ALL–Accor Live Limitless to offer its members the best possible experiences. At launch, we already have iconic destinations like New York, Paris, Singapore or London. This new service will also appeal to new members who will find our program even more attractive. This is further proof that the group’s operations extend beyond the walls of its properties, once again underlining our augmented hospitality strategy.

Maud Bailly, Accor’s Chief Digital Officer, previously described the augmented hospitality strategy as “a companion for everyday life, at home and around the world” that enhances members’ lives with extraordinary experiences.

The service is currently available in 50 gateway cities and will soon be expanded to 100 destinations worldwide. Along with Fever, which raised $227 million in funding with a $1 billion valuation in January, the program will give members of ALL access to 1,500 activities.

The CitizenM guarantee

A hotel brand looking to ‘disrupt’ the loyalty space is based in Amsterdam CitizenMwhich features mycitizenM+, described as “the ultimate hotel subscription”.

“There are no points to accumulate. No weird levels to reach. MycitizenM+ is a simple membership – you only need to register once to enjoy discounts and benefits,” explains the company.

With mycitizenM+, members will receive a guaranteed 10% discount, free late check-out, first place with chat service and a guaranteed room if they book at least 48 hours in advance.

The service costs a monthly fee and is good for an entire year.

Through testing, market research and validation, CitizenM claims to have discovered that “peace of mind” in terms of price and room availability is the highest criteria for frequent travelers.

“Loyalty programs and the hunt for points are a thing of the past,” the company said on LinkedIn.

What’s in it is “a membership developed with business travelers, freelancers, digital nomads, creative consultants, and all mobile citizens of the world in mind.”

In 2020, CitizenM launched a business subscription service with the aim of retaining businesses and employees looking for a place to work and stay.

However, its loyalty ambitions extend far beyond individual experiences and group retreats. Specifically, CitizenM wants to cultivate loyalty in the online world, announcing last week that it would be building a hotel in the metaverse.