customer loyalty best westernBest Western International will have to make room in its customer loyalty trophy case after its impressive performance at Monday’s second annual 2015 Loyalty360 Awards during the 8th annual Loyalty Expo presented by Loyalty360 – The Loyalty Marketers’ Association, which is being held April 27-29, 2015, at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando in Orlando, Florida.

For the second consecutive year, Best Western took home the most prestigious honor: The Platinum Award in the 360-Degree category for North America.

Besides taking home the 360-Degree Award for North America, Best Western snared a Platinum Award in the Best Customer Insight in Loyalty Marketing category, along with a pair of Gold Awards in the Best Technology & Trends in Loyalty Marketing and Best Creative Campaign categories.

Glen MacDonell, Managing Director, Loyalty & Partnership Marketing, Best Western International sat down with Loyalty360 to discuss his company’s award-winning customer loyalty approach.

How do you define Customer Loyalty at Best Western and how did this campaign impact that theme?

We understand that hotel customers may have multiple loyalty cards in their wallets, and we’re often competing for a bigger share. However, we don’t want to compete simply on price or location alone. To create loyal guests, we focus on creating unique travel experiences by providing superior customer care one guest at a time. Our frequent, generous promotions and integrated marketing efforts keep the brand top of mind. If we’ve provided a great experience in the past, then we know we can win the next visit.

With an abundance of technology solutions available in the marketplace, how do you know which ones best fit your customers and their expectations?

Customer expectations are changing every day, especially in the realm of technology. For example, take mobile phones. From the small flip phones of a decade ago to smart phones with ever larger screen sizes of today, our guests’ needs have changed. We have to deliver what today’s customers want. We have to make smart investments.

The Best Western brand appeals broadly to many demographic groups. There’s no technology that fits all of our customers. However, we know that email is more important than ever, and our direct marketing efforts have contributed greatly to the performance and growth of Best Western Rewards. Technology is allowing us to create customized messages that are much more relevant to our guests.

Social media is also critical to reaching guests from Gen X, Y, and Z in a unique way. With more than 400,000 guests per night, we have an incredible opportunity to leverage our organic brand ambassadors, allowing them to influence their family and friends.

Can you talk about your creative campaign, as far as what was involved, what prompted it, and why you think it resonated so well with your customers?

Best Western has achieved great success using customer insights to develop social layers to amplify our promotional offers. Through third-party research, gathering user feedback data on social media and examining industry trends, Best Western has been able to forge an accurate picture of the frustrations for frequent travelers and create social programs that highlight the hard work the brand’s customers do while on the road.

Our “Be a Travel Hero” promotion was rooted in research data that uncovered feelings of guilt associated with frequent business travelers. Best Western aimed to reverse those feelings and empower business travelers to begin planning their next vacation, while at the same time allowing friends and family to better recognize the “travel heroes” in their life. Social media allows a resonating campaign like this to be engaging and shareable.

What were your goals for the campaign and how did the results match your expectations?

“Be a Travel Hero” occurred during our peak business travel season, but also during a time when business travelers typically are planning their summer family vacations. The campaign goals were to drive consideration and engagement that amplified our seasonal offer. The campaign achieved the following results:

Delivered exceptional social engagement that helped Best Western top the 1 million Facebook “Likes” mark – a threshold that created an additional layer of excitement within our social community.

The acquisition of more than 7,000 new Best Western Rewards members.

Over 2x lift in Return on Advertising Spend across all Facebook campaigns YOY.

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