Q&A: Paulo Salvador, CMO, Worldhotels

Worldhotels, one of the leading groups for independent upscale hotels worldwide, recently announced the launch of its global loyalty program “Worldhotels Peakpoints” that is available at all of the group’s nearly 500 hotels in 65 countries worldwide.

Worldhotels Peakpoints is one of the first all-virtual global loyalty programs in the hospitality industry. The programme is free of charge and guests receive 300 welcome points upon enrolling to the program at Worldhotels. What’s more, they benefit from every eligible stay as they receive 2 points for every Euro spent on room revenue. Collected points can be exchanged for vouchers, which can then be redeemed at all hotels within the group without restrictions.

Worldhotels Chief Marketing Officer Paulo Salvador participated in a scintillating Q&A with Loyalty360 to discuss the new loyalty program.

What factors prompted the launch of the virtual global loyalty program and how does it work?

A loyalty programme is a “must have” in our industry. Not for the sake of offering points and giving away free stays, but mainly as a means to build guest profiles. The supplier chain in the hospitality industry is overloaded. In order to compete, hotels need to identify their guests and make sure they are directly connected to them to be able to offer more value than just a stay. A loyalty programme is the beginning of a journey that in a later stage will build the bridge to a full CRM solution. Our hotels welcome over 30 million guests per year and it was the time to equip them with the necessary tools to offer their guests ultimate value.

Worldhotels Peakpoints offers our guests attractive redemption incentives and tailored services in accordance with their individual needs and travel behaviour. What’s more, it is a transparent and easy to understand programme: Guests benefit from every eligible stay as they collect 2 points for every Euro spent on their room. Collected points can then be exchanged for vouchers which can be redeemed at all our almost 500 hotels – without any restrictions. With our all-virtual approach we are also catering to the needs of modern travellers who are environmentally conscious and like to have everything in one single device–their smart phone.

With the launch of Worldhotels Peakpoints, we also offer our hotels the opportunity to reduce their third party dependency by rewarding guests for booking via direct channels and generating customer knowledge. With the programme our hotels can improve their competitive position compared to major brands with established loyalty programmes.

What makes it unique from other offerings in the marketplace?

Worldhotels Peakpoints is a simple and easy value-back programme. Guests can redeem points at any time as there are no black-out dates. What’s more, the Worldhotels Loyalty Programme is one of the first all-virtual programmes available in hospitality, with an innovative virtual membership card that is fully integrated into all Worldhotels Communication Channels. It is also the first loyalty programme in the industry that is providing hotels with their own campaign management tool, enabling them to directly communicate with their guests and drive their CRM activities. Worldhotels Peakpoints is also the first programme that offers hotels 100% reimbursement for redemption.

Was customer feedback a factor and, if so, in which way?

The creation of Worldhotels Peakpoints was based on a strong customer demand. Our guests were asking for an environmentally-friendly and transparent loyalty programme, allowing them to redeem their points at any time and at any hotel–without restrictions.

Worldhotels Peakpoints is following this requested principle of simplicity and offers our guests a straightforward value-back programme with an innovative all-virtual approach.

How do you think this will impact customer engagement?

Customer engagement doesn’t start with a loyalty programme, it starts with the hotel. By providing our guests with unique and authentic travel experiences, our hotels build customer relationships and retention. Worldhotels Peakpoints is a great resource to enhance this customer engagement as it rewards our guests for their loyalty, helps our hotels to provide tailored services in accordance with individual customer needs and travel behaviour, and thus increases guest experience.

What is your definition of customer loyalty and has that definition changed at all in recent years?

Today’s world travellers are looking for good value for money and authentic and unique hotel experiences. Standardised hotels are struggling to differentiate experience. They all have loyalty programmes in place, but it’s not enough to create loyalty. Also, virtual platforms are becoming more important in a time, where CRM means not only gaining traditional demographic data such as “how do I like my eggs”, but also everything that is correlated to the guest preferences from social feeds, to post-stay-surveys, and more. Loyalty programmes are the starting point when it comes to building guest profiles. Finally, we are moving to the need of simplicity:  programmes that will make the difference are the ones that make the following very transparent for the guest: how many points do I get and how easily can I redeem them?

What things/challenges keep you up at night as a marketer?

All the challenges in our industry are related to the fast-changing digital travel market. It’s amazing how many changes we went through in the past 20 years due to the digital revolution. Technology helps hotels to carve new paths to find a direct relationship with guests, but also adds to the challenges in the supply chain and stirs the rise of intermediaries that inflate more and more the cost of distribution. I can say that rapid change in technology is not keeping me up at night, but making me go out of bed earlier.

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