Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

Randy Petersen Exectuve Travel Summit Wrap-Up: Hotel Session – What Keeps You Up at Night?

Loyalty Session Part 1: Swift Exchange
Loyalty  Session Part 2: American Express
Loyalty  Session Part 3: Points Pay
Loyalty  Session Part 4: American Airlines
Loyalty  Session Part 5: Loyalty Debate
Hotel Session: What issues keep you up at night?

The hotel panel for the afternoon session consisted of members of management from Starwood Preferred Guest, Hilton HHonors, Wyndham Rewards, Choice Privileges, and Club Carlson.

One thing that might soothe the nerves of frequent travelers, is that many on the panel had been there before.  In previous jobs, most of them had been road warriors tied down by per diems and business expenses.

Anyway, as opposed to the morning panel, which was a bit more open-ended, this panel was geared around the question “What keeps you awake at night?”

For Starwood, it is all about providing a ubiquitous product, that is, making it possible to redeem for experiences, just about anywhere.  Concerts, wine tastings, even driving Indy 500 cars can all be experienced using points.

For Hilton HHonors, they are enchanted by dreams ever night–the dreams of their customers.  For them, it’s not just about being able making dreams a reality, but helping people imagine their aspirational awards.  Thus, they are actively working to make this possible for both their customers, and their hotels.

Wyndham Rewards has a problem of scale and size.  In addition to the Wyndham and Wingate properties, other common brands include Microtel, Dream, Ramada, Days Inn, Super  8, Howard Johnson, Travelodge, and Knights Inn.  The wide availability creates a challenge for marketing themselves, but it also creates an opportunity for drawing in loyalty.  Back in May, they featured a promotion where 2 stays at their hotels would earn you Avengers tickets.

For some programs, the challenge is award optimization.  In the last year, Choice has made enhancements to their elite program, and added their own co-branded Visa credit card.

Finally, for Club Carlson, it is a “relatively new” problem.  They are the new kid on the block, and have been very generous in attempting to gain business.  They have had some very lucrative promotions, including the Radisson 50,000 Gold Point Big Night Giveaway, which I have successfully gotten in on a couple of times now.

While they have not been around real long, this and the Park Inn, Country Inn & Suites, and Park Plaza bonuses have generated a lot of attention.  Talk about a first impression!

In closing, the subject of Outside Ticketing Agents (OTAs), such as Priceline, Hotwire and my favorite CheapTickets, were brought up.  People often get angry when they do no receive stay credit and points on these stays.  I didn’t realize this, but the fact is that the use of OTAs is actually rather unprofitable to the individual loyalty programs.


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