Für FRHI beantwortete Sharon Cohen, Executive Director, Loyalty Programs, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, den Fragebogen zum Thema Kundenbindungsprogramme.
Top hotel: What were the reasons for the introduction of a customer loyalty program?
Sharon Cohen: The introduction of our guest loyalty program was driven by the desire to get to know our customers on a much deeper level and to be able to share that intelligence in a seamless manner across our entire hotel portfolio ensuring guest preferences would be consistent worldwide. Additionally, showing our guests that we recognize their value by offering them not only exceptional personalized service but also by offering them valuable rewards to recognize their loyalty. Over the years, we have added new benefits as tastes have changed and new trends have emerged and continue to adapt to meet and exceed our members’ expectations.
Top hotel: More and more hotel chains are using loyalty programs. Do you perceive this as kind of a competition?
Sharon Cohen: Our loyalty program, Fairmont President's Club, differentiates itself from traditional points programs by focusing on customized rewards and benefits, allowing guests to tailor their stays in a way that our competitors are not doing today. We maintain highly individualized guest profiles that ensure our members always receive consistent and exemplary service at any Fairmont location worldwide, making their travel experience more convenient, comfortable and memorable.
Top hotel: What distinguishes your program from the ones from other hotel companies?
Sharon Cohen: As I already mentioned, we focus on ways to customize and tailor the stay experience for each and every member. Some other ways in which Fairmont President’s Club differentiates itself is by leveraging lifestyle partnerships to enrich the program. We've looked to key elements of the travel experience – food and beverage, sports and adventure, health and wellness, arts and entertainment etc. – and have teamed up with like-minded partners in those areas that work with us to add value for guests. For example, Reebok has partnered with us to help us keep our members healthy while they are on the road through the Fairmont Fit program. Fairmont Fit offers Reebok fitness apparel and running shoes to members to use during their stay. As part of Fairmont Fit, members also have access to complimentary BMW bicycles which gives them an active and environmentally friendly way to explore the unique environments we are located in.
Top hotel: Since the program has been introduced, to what extent did this lead to an increase in the number of guests, changes in guest behavior and in sales/revenue?
Sharon Cohen: Once guests become active members in the program, the loyalty “effect” can clearly be seen in their revenue contribution and their behavior. The more engaged they are with our program, the more they stay and spend with us and the more likely they are to visit multiple hotels in our collection and increase their spend on food & beverage and spa.
Top hotel: What are the benefits the program offers to your guests?
Sharon Cohen: A full list of benefits can be found online at Fairmont.com/fpc/benefits/ As far as the most sought after benefit, it is easily complimentary high-speed and wireless Internet access. This has proven to be an extremely popular element of the program, which is enjoyed by all tiers. Another top benefit is our Fairmont Fit program, which allows guests to leave their bulky work-out gear at home and enjoy the use of fitness apparel and running shoes during their stay. Additionally, members have access to complimentary use of BMW bicycles in hotels worldwide. Guaranteed access to room inventory on sold-out dates and guaranteed early check-in and late check-out for our top tier members is always a coveted benefit and one that our members appreciate.
Top hotel: Why is a customer loyalty program in your opinion essential today?
Sharon Cohen: With rapidly evolving trends in personalization, loyalty programs give both the customer and the hotel the opportunity to start a relationship. Members have a channel in which to communicate what is important to them, and hoteliers have the opportunity to respond and deliver upon those needs. In addition to gathering important data to help us engage members and tailor their stays with us, our loyalty program gives us the ability to reward members for their business and show them that we value and appreciate their business. In essence, loyalty programs open the door to deeper opportunities to get to know and recognize our customers, build trust and begin a two way dialogue.
Top hotel: What criteria do you have in order to choose your partners?
Sharon Cohen: Our approach to partnerships is aligned with guests’ expectations and the luxury consumer’s increasing demand for personalized experiences. In order for a partnership to be successful, brands need to have similar goals. Once this commonality has been established, there are several key criteria that are discussed before any brand is considered for a partnership such as healthy brand equity, positive customer impact and similar brand objectives and measurement.
Top hotel: In the near future, will the customer loyalty program be improved/extended? If yes, in which way?
Sharon Cohen: We are always looking for new ways to improve the program and to deliver new and exciting offerings to our most frequent guests.
Top hotel: How important is a customer loyalty program during the next ten years, in your opinion? How should these programs be and what value could they offer?
Sharon Cohen: I believe that the key principles of customer engagement in the luxury segment will continue to remain the same; the luxury consumer wants to be recognized and valued for their business and be rewarded with bespoke experiences and relevant benefits that matter to them. How this comes to life will continue to evolve as the need for increased mobility and omni-channel recognition play a more important role in consumer choice.
Top hotel: How do your guests like your loyalty program?
Sharon Cohen: Our members appreciate the personalized service experiences we offer them through the program, and that our communications are relevant and based on what they tell us is important to them. They also appreciate the rewards and perks of the institutionalized program benefits. We see the results of this satisfaction in our JD Power guest satisfaction surveys and in their behavior with us; our members stay more, spend more and return more often than non-members.