Extended Stay America Launches New Loyalty Program

Extended Stay America Loyalty ProgramExtended Stay America hotels, the largest owner-operated hotel chain in the U.S., just launched a new loyalty program called Extended Perks, which is an exclusive program developed to recognize and reward members with instant savings.

Terry Atkins, Senior Director of Marketing Communications at Extended Stay America, participated in a compelling interview with Loyalty360 to discuss the exciting new loyalty program.

What factors prompted Extended Stay America Hotels to launch a new loyalty program called Extended Perks?

As you may know, Extended Stay America recently underwent a major rebranding effort consolidating the company’s brands under the Extended Stay America umbrella. In addition to the rebranding, the company also launched a brand-wide renovation in 2012 with more than half of the 682 hotels refreshed and the remaining properties slated for completion in 2016.

After unveiling the “new way to stay,” Extended Stay America turned its attention to creating a way to thank and show our appreciation to our loyal customers and incentivize new guests to experience our hotels first time; the result is our Extended Perks program.

Extended Stay America Loyalty Program

We asked ourselves: “What’s the point of points?” The way it works with most traditional hotel reward programs is that guests have to earn points and more points and even more points.  After all that work and time, many guests never see any rewards. We felt there’s got to be a better way to show guests our appreciation and give them the instant rewards they deserve.

What makes this program unique and what are your customer engagement/ loyalty goals for it?

Instead of “dangling the unreachable carrot," of traditional point based loyalty programs, Extended Perks provides the sense of exclusivity and privilege consumers expect from members-only programs, while delivering the savings and instant gratification they desire.

Instant rewards and great value is what makes Extended Stay America’s Extended Perks different from traditional loyalty programs. Our program is easy to use.  We have a great website with discounts from over 150,000 local and national merchants. Brands people use every day like Papa Johns, Avis, Staples Timberland, Niemen Marcus Last Call, Sam’s Club, Dell, 1-800-FLOWERS and more. Plus when people travel or are away from home they can use our mobile app so they can save anywhere, anytime. An average household can save up to $2,500 annually by using Extended Perks as part of their daily shopping routine.

When Extended Stay America began looking into designing a brand loyalty program, we first took an objective look at the landscape of loyalty and rewards programs. As the face of loyalty programs are rapidly evolving, we focused our research on program trends and consumer sentiments across the retail and hospitality industry. Below is key information from our findings.

66% of millennials think “unique rewards” are the key factor in choosing loyalty programs, vs. 43 percent of older people.

The incorporation of personalization into program messages, discounts and offers has become increasingly important as consumers hop between store, web and mobile devices,

Now more than ever, consumers want to be recognized, communicated with and rewarded based on their personal tastes and preferences.

Most importantly, consumers want to receive exclusive VIP access to the products and experiences they covert – in exchange for their loyalty.

With the big picture view of today’s loyalty landscape, we took our research a step further, by conducting a survey of more than 500 participants to uncover insights that would help in developing benefits that aligned with our brand personality and core audiences. Key findings are below:

Consumers’ top frustrations with hotel loyalty programs include not having loyalty points properly credited or a promotional deal honored as advertised, difficulty redeeming loyalty points and issues maintain a status level because points expire too quickly.

When asked what most motivates participation in rewards or loyalty programs, 66% loyalty members and 67% non-members identified saving money or receiving discounts as the top motivator.

Among hotels, airlines and credit cards, participation in consumer good programs ranked as most frequently used, illustrating the merchant savings and discounts as a valued feature in consumer- centric rewards program, such as Extended Perks.

As it concerns the preference of rewards redemption, instant rewards or discounts appealed to nearly 60% of all respondents, both member and non-member.

How do you define customer loyalty and has the definition changed in recent years?

Extended Perks is all about US showing OUR appreciation and loyalty to our guests, not asking guests to demonstrate their loyalty to us. That’s very different philosophy and approach compared to almost all other hotel rewards programs. Points are pointless, when most guests never see any rewards?

Recognizing guest passion toward saving, and their frustrations with traditional points based hotel rewards programs, Extended Stay America stepped away from the traditional point-based system.

The Extended Perks program was created with the rising generation of consumers in mind, Millennials, “Generation NOW.” These passionate, self-reliant, spontaneous digital natives, seeking instant gratification and flexibility have an "I want everything now!" attitude. Millennials are traveling more and longer than other age groups, but are interested in spending less.

We’re confident once guests experience Extended Stay America’s ‘new way to stay,’ with the addition of Extended Perks, they’ll want to book their next trip with us. 

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