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3 ways hotels can use experiential rewards to grow guest loyalty

Consumers today are increasingly valuing experiences over “stuff” – with millennials leading the charge. According to one study, 78% of millennials said they would prefer to spend money on an experience or event, rather than a tangible item.

And this desire for “experiences” can be extended to loyalty programmes as well. Experiential rewards – such as tickets to live events or activities – are growing in popularity among loyalty marketers.

This emphasis on experience is a great opportunity for the hospitality industry, where guest experience is already a high priority and loyalty is essential to drive profit in the face of OTAs. But what does this look like in practice?

Here are three ways you can incorporate experiential rewards into your hotel loyalty programme…

Use rewards to cross-sell / upsell other services

For many hotels, accommodation is just one of their revenue streams. Most will at least have a restaurant on site, but many also have a spa, golf course, fitness centre or other leisure facilities. Encouraging guests to take advantage of these services during their stay is always key, and an experience-based rewards programme is a great way to do it.

Rewards might include an upgrade to their spa package, priority seating at your restaurant, or an invite to a special event – such as a wine tasting session if they book ahead for dinner.

The key here is that the guest must purchase something from one of your affiliated services in order to take advantage of the offer. You’re not giving away a spa service – just upgrading the one they’ve already bought. They get the free wine tasting session or priority seating – but they have to book a table for dinner in your restaurant.

Typically you’d want to incorporate these rewards into your loyalty programme, so that in order to redeem them guests must have acquired a certain number of points.

Reward your most valuable guests with exclusive offers

We’ve said it often: not all of your guests are equal – in terms of value, that is. And the most valuable guests are worth a little extra effort to keep satisfied.

Tiered loyalty programmes are a great way to achieve this. In these programmes, members move to the next level once they spend over a specified amount or earn a certain number of points – and automatically receive special offers as a result.

This ensures your most valuable guests feel like they’re getting extra value out of their relationship with your brand. So what does this look like practically?

Once a guest becomes a VIP loyalty member, they’ll still earn points and redeem rewards in the same way as your standard programme. But they’ll also have access to a few exclusive benefits that they don’t need to use their points to redeem. This could include things like:

  • a bottle of champagne in the room on arrival,
  • automatic upgrades when available,
  • free late check-out / early check-in, and so on…

The exact rewards you offer will depend on your hotel and the services available – the important thing is that these offers add value to the guest experience, rather than cheapening it with discounts.

Partner with local attractions to add value to their stay

It depends on the purpose of your guest’s visit, but for many the overall experience of their trip will extend beyond the boundaries of your property. Obviously you can’t control whether they have a good experience when they’re not with you – but you can add value even when they’re not on site by partnering up with local businesses to offer exclusive deals.

So among the rewards available within your programme, you might include offers from local attractions, such as half-price theatre tickets, fast-track entrance at a nearby theme park, etc.

Partnering with other local businesses gives you the opportunity to contribute to the guest’s overall experience even when they’ve left your property for the day. It also gives you the ability to extend your catalogue of rewards beyond what your hotel and associated services can provide.

Experiential rewards are a great way to engage with guests and add extra value to their stay. By offering experiences, rather than simple discounts, you can build positive emotional connections with guests that will ultimately drive repeat purchases – resulting in value for both your guest and your business.

The Horizon Loyalty Hub helps you deliver relevant rewards of every kind – learn more about Horizon for hospitality businesses. →

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