When asked, frequent travelers can quickly name their top three favorite brands in the travel industry. But what makes these brands special?
It’s a relatively simple concept called a “relationship.” The savviest of business travelers engage with particular brands while they’re traveling because those brands make them feel understood and valued through their most important asset - the loyalty club.
It all starts with the brand’s loyalty club. The purpose of a loyalty club is to offer excellent service and benefits to customers. One advantage loyalty clubs give brands is the opportunity to talk to and -- most importantly -- learn about their customers. These brands frequently ask for feedback and make their customers feel important. Accruing points and using them for free services and even vacation certainly attract customers, but it’s the service provided via the loyalty club that keeps business travelers coming back.
Frequent travelers expect rewards – and they like them. Loyalty clubs that understand who their most valued customers are, what they want, and what they need make the difference in retaining the loyal business traveler for a brand. For example, I frequently require a hotel reservation on short notice, and I know I can always depend on my favorite hotel to accommodate me because of my participation in its loyalty club. This same hotel also knows that I am an early riser. As a result, the hotel always places me on the executive floor close to the gym, which I frequent early in the morning. They ask for my feedback and make me feel important. Points are just too easy to replicate. It’s the service and consistency provided that win my loyalty in the long run.
Successful brands also trust their employees. These brands empower their staff to make decisions and provide them with the freedom to offer services and benefits to their loyalty club members at any time. One of my business trips was plagued with flight delays, and I didn’t have a chance to eat. When I got to the hotel, I was extremely hungry and asked the front desk staff for the available food options. There weren’t any at that late hour. Ten minutes after I entered my room, I heard a knock on the door. The front desk employee was standing there with a protein bar and a banana. This small act of kindness showed he understood what I needed and was able to make a quick decision to provide a solution. Guess which hotel I always frequent as a result? The best brands recognize that exceptional service is not a “one size fits all” approach.
Business travelers frequent brands that listen and encourage them to communicate. Social channels are helpful, but loyalty clubs also provide customized member that can produce quick results. National recently surveyed VIP customers and 60 percent responded. Business executives appreciate being asked for feedback and often take the time to answer. Brands must consistently strive to get ahead of the curve. If customers see a brand stagnate, they may lose interest and patience. Smart brands conduct market research to find out what motives their target audience. It’s expensive, but once a year, it’s important to meet with your target audience to really talk to them and find out what makes them happy. Brands that understand what motives their customers can stay one step ahead and provide the level of service that will earn their lifelong loyalty.