Officials for Best Western Hotels & Resorts, which commissioned a new loyalty program study through U.S. News & World Report, found out that the results reaffirmed many of their core values that drive customer engagement and a seamless customer experience.

Tammy Lucas, director of marketing for Best Western, talked to Loyalty360 about the study, which surveyed 1,000 travelers who belong to loyalty programs, and the company’s ongoing mission to listen to its customers to provide an exemplary experience.

Respondents had stayed in hotels at least two times in the past year.

Thirty-eight percent were members of AAA and 21 percent belonged to AARP. Eighty-six percent of the hotel stays were booked through loyalty programs.

Family was a huge motivating factor for using these loyalty programs, along with trust and brand loyalty. in a hotel brand that they trusted.

“The survey, in many ways, reaffirmed what we have known for many years,” Lucas told Loyalty360. “Loyalty programs need to be easy for members to navigate, provide meaningful rewards, and must be anchored in a brand that travelers can trust. The voice of the customer impacts every decision we make at Best Western and Best Western Rewards has been designed with the customer’s needs as the guiding force. We weren’t surprised to learn that one-third of respondents indicated that expiring points is their biggest loyalty program complaint. Best Western Rewards is the only loyalty program in the industry where points never expire. We also weren’t surprised to learn that 74 percent find it easier to redeem Best Western Rewards points compared to 68 percent for Marriott Rewards and 67 percent for Hilton Honors.”

Lucas said that Best Western’s overarching goals for the loyalty program study were to understand the needs of its travelers to ensure its loyalty program meets their expectations.

“We know that Best Western Rewards® is one of the richest reward programs in the industry, and the results of this survey reinforce that belief,” she explained. “We were thrilled to partner with U.S. News & World Report to gather responses from more than 1,000 respondents. The results uncovered that the expiration of points, ease of point redemption, guaranteed room availability and brand trust are key factors that shape the current hotel loyalty landscape.”

Loyalty programs continue to play an integral role in the booking decisions made by travelers. In fact, according to the survey, 95 percent of respondents indicated that rewards programs are a key influencer of their booking decisions.

“The results also demonstrate that customers want a program that provides promotions and the perks that are simple and meaningful, focusing on all customers, not just the Elite Members,” Lucas explained.

In today’s social-media driven world, Lucas noted, “customers are always telling brands what they want, but not all hotel brands are truly listening. We received incredible feedback from our guests with Best Western Rewards’ Instant Rewards spring promotion, which supplied our members with a $10 Travel Card® for every stay. To celebrate the summer travel season, we’re taking it one step further and giving our members a $10 Travel Card for every night they stay at a Best Western property. This promotion is simple, meaningful, and easy.”

What benchmarks are being used to measure customer loyalty?

“Some of the measures that are very important are the mix of our portfolio, especially Elite tiers, and how we are addressing our best customers from a service and promotional perspective, our brand contribution of our program relative to total revenue, and the total (and active) membership, both domestically and globally, these are all key measures,” Lucas said. “We also utilize rankings from U.S. News, Loyalty360, J.D. Power, and other sources to determine the relative positioning of our program with other major loyalty programs.” 

Will these results impact Best Western’s loyalty program in the future?

“Absolutely,” Lucas added. “They reaffirm and strengthen the feedback that we have received from our customers, and the direction we have been going with all of the enhancements we have been making to our program. Partnering with U.S. News & World Report will continue to be an important element of our Best Western Rewards refresh. We will take the results of this study and make Best Western Rewards even better. We look forward to continuing to be an industry leader in this space.”

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