60 Seconds with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts' Sharon Cohen

60 Seconds with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts' Sharon Cohen

We spoke with Sharon Cohen, Executive Director, Loyalty Marketing at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Fairmont President’s Club has around one million members and the program aims to give each guest presidential treatment.

InsideFlyer
What sets Fairmont President’s Club apart from other hotel loyalty programs–specifically for business travelers?
Sharon Cohen
It is the time and effort we place in getting to know our customers and providing them with the amenities and services that resonate with them and make their stay seamless. Our business travelers take advantage of the fact that we pre-register our members and
assign their room based on their preferences so their visit at the front desk is speedy and efficient. Among many benefits, our members enjoy free high-speed Internet access, complimentary access to health clubs and use of Fairmont Fit (adidas work out apparel delivered to the room). For our elite tier members we also offer personalized welcome amenities upon arrival so they can be sure to have something in their room they appreciate while on the road versus the standard hotel fruit basket.

IF
Why did Fairmont choose guest recognition over awarding points?
Cohen
Our elite tier members continue to tell us that quality of service is what they value most when traveling–our loyalty philosophy reflects that. Our goal is to offer a guest experience that is less transactional and more emotional through personal recognition of member preferences and exclusive on-site benefits.

IF
Can you tell us more about the Great Escapes offered to elite members including a peek into what will be offered in 2010?
Cohen
Great Escapes and Fairmont Moments are custom-made package experiences built around our members’ passions. We’ve teamed up with key partners like Lexus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Napa Valley Vintners among others to create experiences our members could never purchase on their own. Some of the events we offered packages to in 2009 included New York Fashion Week, the Monaco Grand Prix and the PGA Grand Slam in Bermuda. Each package included multiple exclusive elements from meet and greets with celebrities and exclusive access to first run products to VIP access to “back of the house” areas of various events. Due to popular demand, we will likely re-run most of the same packages. We will also be adding new experiences and membership benefits in 2010 built around an emerging passion amongst our members–community outreach–where our members can give back either within the communities where we have hotels or within their own communities at home and be rewarded for their service through the Fairmont President’s Club program.

IF
How do you interact with President’s Club members and ask for feedback when making changes to the program?
Cohen
We work with JD Power to gather member feedback on different aspects of their stay. This helps us to understand how our hotels are delivering on our members’ preferences and determine if we have fulfilled our promise. Additionally, we have a separate online member panel that recruits members on a regular basis to weigh in on monthly surveys. We speak with our members on a wide variety of topics ranging from what helps them get to sleep on the road to what they think of a new benefit or partnership idea that we may be exploring.

IF
A downside to President’s Club is its lack of hotels compared to other programs. Does Fairmont have plans to open more hotels?
Cohen
Portfolio growth continues to be a major focus area for the Fairmont brand. Presently, we have a number of hotels in our development pipeline and are actively seeking out other opportunities to expand the Fairmont brand into leading markets in North America,
Asia, Europe and the Middle East. In 2009, we opened several new hotels in key markets like Abu Dhabi, Cairo and China and have plans to do the same in 2010. Throughout the year, Fairmont will open seven distinctive new hotels in growing markets around the globe with highlights including The Savoy in London, Fairmont
Peace Hotel in Shanghai and Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel in Saudi Arabia. In an effort to further globalize the program for our members, we have made a very noteworthy upgrade to the Fairmont President’s Club program in 2010. Namely, that our elite tier members will now be able to accumulate stay credits with each room night at sister brands Swissotel Hotels & Resorts and Raffles Hotels & Resorts. In addition, they will also have access to many of the membership benefits they currently enjoy at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, including having their personalized preferences automatically recognized and honored.

IF
What is your personal favorite Fairmont property?
Cohen
Like many members, I have special memories in all our hotels. While I certainly cannot choose a favorite hotel (that would be like asking a parent what child they like best!), I was married at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, so it holds a
special place in my heart. My husband and I try to return every year for a nostalgic romantic weekend.

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