Für Hilton beantwortete Mark Weinstein, Global Head Loyalty and Partnerships, Hilton Worldwide, den Fragebogen zum Thema Kundenbindungsprogramme.
Top hotel: What were the reasons for the introduction of Hilton HHonors?
Mark Weinstein: Since our founding almost 100 years ago, Hilton has been focused on providing unparalleled hospitality for our guests and constantly looking at ways that we can honour those most loyal to us. In 1987, we decided to launch an “Instant Win” scratch-off promotion tied to the U.S. Olympic Team sponsorship honouring Olympians past and present. The promotion was so well received by guests and our hotel Team Members that we knew we had started down the path of something powerful – a way to further delight our guests and show our appreciation for their loyalty.
We continued to evolve the programme from simply a rewards scheme to the industry’s pioneer and leader, providing our guests with relevant choices and putting them in control of their stay. We launched “My Way”, a programme that allowed every member to customise their Hilton HHonors experience and became the only major programme in the industry – and remain so today – that allows members to earn Hilton HHonors Points and airline miles for the same stay.
Since then, Hilton HHonors has grown and evolved and is now one of the world’s premier guest loyalty programs. Whether traveling for business or leisure, frequently or infrequently, we provide our guests with personalized experiences and additional value in exchange for their membership. We offer unsurpassed value to members – especially when they book with us directly through our website, app or call centre – with benefits such as complimentary WiFi, the ability to choose-your-room in advance and even check-in for your stay on our mobile app or the web.
Today, we have more than 46 million members worldwide and our programme extends across more than 4,400 properties and 95 countries encompassing Hilton Worldwide’s portfolio of 12 brands.
Top hotel: More and more hotel chains use customer loyalty programmes. In what form do these represent competition for you?
Mark Weinstein: Our priority and unwavering focus is to be an advocate for our members. To offer them personalized experiences. To offer them relevant choices. To put them in control of their stay experience and to deliver more value when they engage with us directly. Hilton HHonors is unique in that we offer more ways to personalize a guest’s programme experience and more ways to earn and redeem Points than any other major hotel loyalty programme. At the end of the day, we know we have an extraordinary combination of brands, hotels and locations for every travel budget, need and occasion. This combined with the value we deliver through Hilton HHonors makes us the industry’s leading guest loyalty programme.
Top hotel: What makes your programme different from hotel programmes?
Mark Weinstein: The first – and perhaps – most important distinction are our twelve award-winning, industry-leading hotel brands. Hilton quite literally wrote the book on hospitality and guest-centric innovation has been in our DNA. We are here to advocate for, empower and honour our guests – from the road warrior to the occasional leisure travel.
Core to Hilton HHonors is the ability for all guests to personalize their experience – from choosing how they want to earn Points, which airline miles they want to earn from 70+ airlines, to what on-property benefits and perks our most elite members want to receive when they stay. In the last couple of months, we’ve really enhanced the benefits for our members who book directly with us – offering complimentary Wi-Fi, the ability to choose-your-room before you stay and the ability to eCheck-in prior to arrival.
Hilton HHonors members can redeem Points for any room, anywhere, anytime, including the most luxurious suites. In addition, members can earn airline miles from more than 70 airline partners for the same hotel stay, or redeem Points via Hilton’s global network of partner brands on items such as flights, rail travel, and cultural and shopping experiences. Hilton HHonors is the only guest-loyalty programme to offer ‘No Blackout Dates’ and ‘Points & Miles’ for the same stay at its properties worldwide.
Finally, through our extensive network of partners, we are curating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our members – many of which can be bid on using Points on our Hilton HHonors auction site. For example, with our newest partner, Live Nation we are hosting private concerts in our hotels, providing VIP tickets to sold-out concerts, and creating incredible one-on-one experiences with artists. Through our longstanding partnership with McLaren-Honda we are offering unprecedented access to the legendary F1 team, as well as unrivalled access to professional golf as the Official Hotel Supplier of The European Tour.
Top hotel: To what extent have you been able to record an increase in customer numbers and changes in guest behaviour in terms of sales since the introduction of the programme?
Mark Weinstein: At Hilton, we know our guests choose our hotels because they love our brands and because we offer great value in thousands of locations. We are growing the programme’s members faster and faster as we enter new markets and introduce new benefits and experiences. Last year, more than four million new members joined Hilton HHonors and we are well on pace to grow the programme significantly larger (and faster) this year. These members are also staying more nights, coming back more frequently and redeeming their Hilton HHonors Points for millions of reward nights annually. In fact, stays from our members’ amount to more than 50% of all of our occupied room nights across the globe.
Top hotel: What kind of advantages does the programme offer your guests?
Mark Weinstein: Hilton HHonors is free to join. When our members book with us directly – through our mobile app, websites and call centres – we can help personalize their stay and offer additional value including:
• The ability to “choose your room” and eCheck-in prior to arrival
• Complimentary standard Wi-Fi access at our more than 4,200 hotels when they book their stay directly and Hilton HHonors Diamond guests will enjoy free premium Wi-Fi access
• More ways to earn and redeem Points than any other loyalty programme – members can redeem Points for any room, anywhere, anytime, including the most luxurious suites.
• Opportunity to earn air miles from more than 70 airline partners for the same hotel stay, or redeem Points via Hilton’s global network of partner brands on items such as flights, rail travel, and cultural and shopping experiences.
• ‘No Blackout Dates’ and ‘Points & Miles’ for the same stay at Hilton’s properties worldwide – Hilton HHonors is the only guest-loyalty programme to offer these benefits.
• Flexibility to use a combination of Points and Money to book rooms, so reward Points can be redeemed even faster.
• Opportunity to use Points for Redemption Experiences such as travel experiences or concerts, for example through Hilton’s recently announced partnership with Live Nation. Via our newly launched auction platform, Hilton HHonors members can use their Points to bid on unique experiences for sporting events, culinary events, concerts and more so they can get out and play.
• Complimentary room upgrades, bottled water and breakfast for Hilton HHonors Gold and Diamond members.
Top hotel: In your opinion, why is a customer loyalty programme essential today?
Mark Weinstein: A successful loyalty programme like Hilton HHonors engages all travelers and serves as their advocate. We facilitate a two-way conversation with our members to offer them more personalized stays enabled through more choices and greater control of their stay experience. This personalization leads to more value for the same stay, significantly increasingly the likelihood that a member will choose to stay with us in the future. We put guest experience first and offer them unique ways to achieve the greatest level of value. We are in the business of hospitality and strong, relevant and personalized experiences are our relentless focus and passion.
Top hotel: What are the criteria for choosing cooperation partners?
Mark Weinstein: It all starts with our customers. We continuously work to understand what they value … what are they passionate about? What brands do they love? We then evaluate potential partners to make sure that we share the same values and commitment to our guests and to our communities and look at what we as Hilton might be able to offer to ensure the partnership and guest offering is as unique as it can be.
Top hotel: Are there any extensions of the customer loyalty programme planned in the near future? If yes: what are they?
Mark Weinstein: Yes, we have just started to provide all Hilton HHonors members with complimentary Wi-Fi access at all of our properties around the world when they Book Direct through our websites, app, or contact centre. Following the launch of digital check-in last year for Hilton HHonors members, we are now also working on the roll-out of our Digital Key technology around the world, which will enable guests to bypass the front desk and use their smart phone as their room key. By the end of this year, Digital Key will be available through the Hilton HHonors app at select U.S. properties of four brands – Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and Canopy by Hilton properties – with plans to continue rolling out the technology across our other brands and markets in 2016.
Top hotel: How important are customer loyalty programmes going to be in the next ten years in your opinion? What could they look like and what value could they offer?
Mark Weinstein: Simply put … critical. Direct relationships with our guests are how we will continue to innovate and personalize the experience – before, during and after their stay. We will continue to see tremendous opportunity in providing a more tailored, personalised experience for each of our members. By joining a loyalty programme, members are giving us permission to have a more personalised relationship with them, and we want to do a better job of using what we know about our members to give them what they want, when they want it, before they have to ask for it. We believe the future of loyalty programmes is really about providing our members even greater choice and control.
Top hotel: What feedback have you received from guests about the loyalty programme?
Mark Weinstein: Our guests love Hilton HHonors and the numbers speak for themselves – record growth, record enrolment, record spend. But, at the end of the day we measure our success – and focus our continuous evolution – on the successful business meetings we help our members create, the weddings, birthdays and anniversaries we help celebrate and the incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences we can create for our members.