Hilton and Phaedon 2024 Loyalty Expo Session: Leveraging Emotional Loyalty To Empower Frontline Employees

Hilton is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 23 world-class brands comprising more than 7,600 properties and nearly 1.2 million rooms, in 126 countries and territories. The company is dedicated to fulfilling the founder’s vision of filling the world with the light and warmth of hospitality. Hilton has welcomed over 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, was named the No. 1 World’s Best Workplace by Great Place to Work and Fortune, and has been recognized as a global leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for seven consecutive years.
Hilton Honors is a trusted customer loyalty program that supports over 190 million members worldwide during their travels. Hilton endeavors to inspire and elevate the travel experience while rewarding members for everything they do with the brand. The program strives to make travel more valuable, flexible, and personalized.
Phaedon, formerly known as ICF Next, is an independent company providing end-to-end loyalty solutions, including market-leading strategy and analytic services. The company’s award-winning TALLYTM technology platform underpins some of the largest and most beloved programs across the globe—like Hilton’s.
Hilton is scheduled to present alongside Phaedon at this year’s Loyalty Expo, held June 4-6 in Orlando, FL. Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Amanda Jamerson, Senior Director, Hilton Honors Member Experience & Operations, and Denise Holt, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Experience & Research at Phaedon, about their partnership, empowering customer-facing employees by leveraging emotional loyalty, and the four key takeaways attendees can expect to learn by attending their session.  

Empowered frontline and customer care center employees are critical in delivering an exceptional guest experience. Can you tell our listeners about the redesigned Hilton Honors Champion program and its purpose? 
Jamerson: The Hilton Honors Champion program existed pre-pandemic and centered on our on-property channel to ensure our benefits were delivered to meet customer expectations—specifically related to the on-property components of the program. Post-pandemic, we partnered with Phaedon.
After seeing Phaedon’s 2023 emotional loyalty presentation, I asked myself, “Are we doing this well?” While the Champion program was still functioning in certain areas of the world, we knew we needed to pause it to ensure we could amplify its impact. We wanted to establish a similar objective globally—in a sense, putting a global framework in place—but still maintain flexibility where there was regional nuance to consider.
Champions are designated across different customer-facing channels. While the program has existed on-property, we’re expanding it to our call center agents and, in the future, to anyone who is customer-facing—like sales channels team members. There are other customer-facing channels where we think this could make an impact, too. The idea is that Champions will promote internal messaging, have the best internal understanding of our program, and help rally team members to ensure that people know, understand, and can deliver the program.
Often, customer-facing employees have a million things they need to remember. We want to keep it simple and ensure they feel a sense of loyalty to this program as well. We make sure that they are educated and informed and experience the program because it does impact what they deliver to guests.
We’re really excited about our new framework. The team at Phaedon has done an amazing job of supporting us with strategy efforts as well as from a research perspective informed by the emotional loyalty work they’ve led.
In what way does this program spark emotional loyalty among Team Members, leading to an elevated guest experience before, during, and after the stay? 
Holt: Our research has led the industry in emotional loyalty for many years. Not only have the key drivers of emotional loyalty withstood the test of time, but they’ve also proven to be just as applicable to the employee-brand relationship as they are to the customer-brand relationship.
Employees who are loyal to the brand are important for longevity and a great guest experience. That’s what helps underpin the reasons why a brand connects with guests. We need employees to understand the details of a loyalty program in order to deliver that experience in a meaningful, personalized way for guests. We also want to make sure we have empathy for those employees. They have much on their plates that they’re managing while striving to deliver a great experience.
It’s critical to ensure that we’re building out the right curriculum and the right moments to feed them information. We want them to feel that we are helping them deliver a world-class experience for guests and that we’re also helping to build their own careers. We want them to feel pride and a sense of accomplishment in what they do at Hilton.
Applying emotional loyalty drivers to the employee audience helps brands to be smarter in the strategies brought forward. This was a great opportunity for Hilton to activate those drivers with the employee audience to make a difference with their team members. As a result, Hilton, in partnership with Phaedon, created a strategic framework to engage Champions, which overlays those emotional loyalty drivers.
Who would most benefit from attending the Hilton/Phaedon session at the Expo? 
Holt: Anyone who is responsible for brand, loyalty, or CRM and relies on customer-facing employees to carry out the brand promise while humanizing the loyalty experience.
What are a few key takeaways attendees can expect to learn by attending this session?  
Jamerson: There are many, but if we only focus on four, we’ll talk about the key drivers of emotional loyalty and understanding what they are—we’re going to reiterate some of the master class learnings that were provided last year.
Guiding principles used to form employee engagement for program design are also critical, and that discussion will be hugely impactful, especially if you’re new and just starting to think about this in your program or you’re refreshing your program.
Third, we’ll discuss how to create a strategic framework for employee engagement grounded in emotional loyalty. Finally, we’ll explore how emotional loyalty is an integral part of building stronger connections between a company and its team members to elevate the member and customer experience.
Please visit LoyaltyExpo.com to learn more about Loyalty360’s upcoming Loyalty Expo, including details on the event agenda and how to register.

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