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The Choice Privileges customer loyalty program for Choice Hotels International surpassed the 20 million member global milestone in late May, and celebrated three consecutive years of placing in the Top 2 rankings for Best Hotel Rewards program at the annual Freddie Awards.
Robert McDowell, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Distribution, Choice Hotels International told Loyalty360 that interaction with members and guests is a “cornerstone” of the program’s evolution.
“Over the past few months, we’ve really focused on understanding the travel and stay-based needs of members,” McDowell explained. “Part of this is evaluating the mobile channel to make sure we are making it as easy and seamless as possible for our members to book and manage travel–quickly, conveniently. We have a much better idea of how to make the program even more relevant during travel, which you will see in the months to come.”
McDowell pointed to a “simple” reason for the program’s success.
“As simple as it sounds, our value-focused travelers know that with Choice privileges they are going to be rewarded with every stay with us and that is what they want,” he said. “Choice Privileges delivers one of the fastest paths to a free night, especially during national promotions like the current Two Trips, One Night Free offer in market. Our ability to design and communicate that value is critical to both enrolling new members and keeping members actively engaged.”
For Choice Privileges, the most influential KPI is program contribution−the percent of Choice’s revenue that comes from member stays, McDowell noted.
“Contribution is fueled by those actions referenced–new members motivated to join Choice Privileges, and existing members continue to give us more of their business,” he said. “Choice has established strong listening posts across channels that reflect the need to be where conversations happen and also proactively seek out opinion to recognize members for their insight as well. Choice Privileges reaches out monthly to Elite members on a survey panel to review a wide range of issues–on stay rewards, redemption preferences, even green initiatives as well.”
McDowell explained an example of turning opinion into action. Starting in early October, members will be able to redeem for instant digital gift cards through ChoiceHotels.com that can be used immediately.
“This was reflective of panel insight, as well as our annual member survey, which supported how members want instant gratification in how Choice Privileges supports their shopping needs,” McDowell explained. “We’re excited to deliver this benefit to all members shortly!”
Communicating with guests and members is a stimulating engagement because Choice Hotels supports such a diverse portfolio of brands and, thus, a wide range of traveler needs in the marketplace.
“We send out nearly half a billion emails annually that compels upscale travelers to resort destinations around the globe while also promoting a comfortable, relaxing night right off the highway,” McDowell said. “At the center of that strategy is a commitment to make every touch point count. Whether a visit to our website or an email received, each interaction is closely considered based on customer-centric planning to guide our guests toward what we feel will meet their travel needs, or make it easy for them to do it themselves. The value of our guests’ time is also respected as well. I’m happy to report our email engagement rates continue to improve while unsubscribes have not, reflecting what I hope is the ability to properly serve the right message at the right time.”
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