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Robert McDowell, Chief Commercial Officer at Choice Hotels International, told Loyalty360 that from a loyalty program new membership perspective, 2016 has already exceeded the totals from 2014.
“We’ve been looking at member rates and other areas to improve that customer experience,” McDowell explained to Loyalty360. “We decided to start with the loyalty program and we did that earlier this year. We’ve seen great success, and increase of wallet, and an increase in new members.”
Earlier this year, Choice Hotels eclipsed 27 million members of its Choice Privileges loyalty program. In June, Choice Hotels enhanced its “Your Extras” benefits partners, where guests can earn special rewards for midweek travel.
“We expect to sign up four to five million new members this year alone,” McDowell said. “We’re instilling confidence in our guests that they can book directly with ChoiceHotels.com. We’re increasing our value proposition in price guarantees that provide a $50 gift card if someone sees a lower price somewhere.”
Starting July 20, 2016, all visitors to Choicehotels.com or the Choice mobile app will have access to discounted rates that can’t be found anywhere else on the Internet. Both existing and new members of Choice Privileges will have access to exclusive room rates that are up to a 7% discount off the best available rate by booking directly on ChoiceHotels.com or the Choice mobile app.
“We will roll this out to all our hotels on the 20th,” McDowell said. “We really worked hard with our hotels to provide members the best prices. It’s another way to provide added benefits to our members and continue to improve that loyalty value equation.”
Customer loyalty, at Choice Hotels, is “really about providing customers with the confidence that they can book directly with us so we can eliminate their need to shop around. We want to be sure they can get the lowest price anywhere.”
And when guests arrive at one of the Choice Hotels, McDowell said: “We give them that reward and recognition for staying with us. We believe we have made a concerted effort and investment in our customers. We eliminated point forfeiture and enabled digital gift cards. Members can use points at a number of different locations. We look at the entire value proposition for customer loyalty.”
Technology is impacting just about every business, McDowell said.
“In the hospitality space, with the proliferation of devices out there, they expect us to be there,” he said. “We focus very heavily on the investment in technology in Choice Privileges and how we can improve that on-property experience.”
Internally, Choice Hotels has “huge engagement” from its associates.
“Part of our growth in enrollment has to do with guest recognition, suggesting memberships in Choice privileges, and recognizing member status,” McDowell said.
Measuring customer loyalty usually comprises the following metrics: Share of wallet, repeat behavior, frequency, number of stays, number of new members, and Net Promoter Score, McDowell said, noting NPS has risen more than 200 basis points in the past couple of months.
“Choice Privileges has blown away all of our expectations,” McDowell said. “It’s a step change. We believe in investing in the customer. The feedback and sentiment toward the program has been incredibly positive.”
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