How the Travel Industry is Deepening Customer Loyalty

Rachel Eisenhauer April 15, 2013
How the Travel Industry is Deepening Customer Loyalty

I recently attended Loyalty Expo 2013, hosted by Loyalty360 in Orlando, and took away some great examples and educational nuggets around how brands, specifically in the travel industry, are enhancing their customer loyalty initiatives. A common mantra among customer-centric companies is that customer loyalty is not a destination, but a constant journey to support customers and deliver an optimal experience. Through every channel – in-person, online, through a call center – and at every customer touch point, there is an opportunity to drive and deepen a customer’s brand loyalty.

Maggie Lang from Kimpton Hotels discussed how the hospitality giant fosters loyalty through emotional connections with guests by leveraging customer data, behaviors and preferences. And not just during the online booking process, but at every customer touchpoint with the hotel, including at the front desk upon check-in and through housekeeping services. Some Kimpton examples she shared included knowing what kind of pet a customer has and the treats it likes waiting upon check-in (at the pet-friendly hotel brands), recognizing a customer’s reading preferences and having a specific newspaper delivered in the morning, and delivering a much-needed nightcap to a guest who checks in late after inclement weather and rough travel conditions. No doubt such phenomenal customer experiences solidify guests’ loyalty to Kimpton as their preferred hotel provider.

On another side of the travel industry spectrum, a leading travel booking website discussed transitioning from serving only top-tier members with high-quality loyalty service, to treating every customer with this level of service, no matter the customer’s status. Many brands I met at the conference are delivering best-in-class levels of loyalty service to all of their customers, not just the longest tenured ones.

One challenge many brands are facing is how to communicate loyalty programs and rewards statuses in more innovative and engaging ways, beyond a standard email or account portal. Leveraging customer profile and account data within personalized videos for customer loyalty is one means, but I also wonder what other tactics brands are considering. Especially as brands looks to deliver loyalty-driven experience at every channel and touch point, determining the most engaging and relevant medium will be key.

What was your main takeaway from Loyalty Expo 2013? How are you looking to enhance your brand’s loyalty initiatives? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.