A recent article in msnbc.com mentions that hotels are increasingly offering unexpected treats to gain the loyalty of their customers such as gifts delivered to their room or their stay being free. The article quotes Robert Palmatier, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Washington who says that standardized, point-accumulating programs don’t pay off for many hotels and airlines because the rewards are increasingly being seen as just part of the contract.
To go along with the article, msnbc conducted a poll asking, “What sort of hotel perks would you like to see?” With the following results:
5.8 percent agreed that: Standard loyalty programs are fine. Give me a clear goal and I’ll shoot for that.
22.4 percent agreed with: I like the idea of “stealth gratitude” at hotels. Surprise me!
And a commanding 71.8 percent agreed with this statement: Forget programs and surprises. Give me a low price and free HBO. And maybe a chocolate on my pillow.
Bottom line: During these tough economic times, it makes sense for hotels to go out of their way to gain loyalty from their customers. But what will happen when the economy improves and the hotels are no longer fighting for customers? If the idea of stealth programs wins out, there could come a day when no one is reaping the rewards. (We really don’t think that day will come, but it’s a trend that’s worth watching.)