60 Seconds with Natalie White-Vice President of Customer Marketing and Relationships, Kimpton Hotels

60 Seconds with Natalie White-Vice President of Customer Marketing and Relationships, Kimpton Hotels

Kimpton InTouch launched in 2004 and includes a growing number of loyal travelers. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is comprised of 48 boutique hotels nationwide and new properties include Kimpton’s Hotel Eventi in New York and Hotel Palomar in Chicago, which are both scheduled to open in spring 2010. We recently got in touch with Natalie White, Vice President, Customer Marketing and Relationships at Kimpton and asked her a few questions about the program.

InsideFlyer
What makes InTouch different from other loyalty programs?
Natalie White
Kimpton InTouch is unlike any other loyalty program because it is inspired by individual guest preferences. From greeting guests with a copy of their favorite magazine to ensuring a tired traveler has a special pillow at bedtime, loyal travelers can personalize their room preferences by requesting almost anything. Offering our loyal guests thoughtful service is what keeps them coming back to our hotels and restaurants.

IF
Kimpton InTouch members automatically receive a complimentary night after seven visits or 20 nights–why do you offer automatic awards instead of issuing points and using an award chart?
White
At Kimpton, we want travelers to receive instant perks that matter to them. Nontraditional rewards and offers that are both personal and unconventional are popular at our hotels. At a time when travelers have access to hundreds of deals and promotions, Kimpton’s InTouch program stands out among loyalty programs by offering personalized rewards that foster memorable travel experiences.

IF
Kimpton’s introduction of the Raid the Mini Bar privilege was an interesting addition to the program. Can you explain the privilege and how you came up with the idea?
White
Now a permanent reward, “Raid the Mini Bar” was initially piloted at seven hotels over the course of one year before being implemented company-wide. During this time, we were able to conduct informal focus groups and garner critical feedback from guests and employees. Through this unique offer, guests receive a credit for any two items, up to $10 (up to $15 in New York City), during every stay at any Kimpton hotel to spend on organic nibbles and drinks. Kimpton InTouch is about personalization and this fun and flexible promotion allows guests to choose their reward.

IF
Kimpton InTouch members receive exclusive promotions via email. Can you give us some examples of popular promotions that have been offered?
White
Kimpton InTouch members have access to a bevy of special discounts and promotions that change regularly and can apply to meals at Kimpton Restaurants, in-room spa treatments, hotel rates/packages and amenities, KimptonStyle products and more. For example, in honor of Kimpton’s birthday in 2009, we offered a “Pay the Year We Were Born” weekend rate of $81 per night. This playful promotion resulted in significant bookings by members and offered travelers an exceptionally low rate in markets such as New York and San Francisco.
IF
What one benefit of Kimpton InTouch do members seem to value the most?
White
Our guests often tell us they appreciate Kimpton’s sense of care. Beyond a smile or friendly greeting, the people at our hotels and restaurants genuinely take the time to get to know what travelers want on the road as well as their personal likes and dislikes, to create stays that are both familiar and fun.

IF
Unlike most hotel programs, InTouch members cannot earn airline miles for stays. Why not, and do you think the program will ever offer miles?
White
Although Kimpton does not offer airline mile rewards at this time, we are constantly on the hunt for guest feedback and ideas that can be transformed into unique, value-added incentives.

IF
We’ve noticed more hotel programs are offering free Internet access. Do you think this trend will continue? How long has Kimpton InTouch members been offered complimentary Internet access?
White
Kimpton InTouch members have had access to complimentary Internet access for over two years. As the needs of today’s travelers constantly evolve, hotel companies will need to adapt to meet the needs of tech-savvy guests.

IF
Inner Circle members receive direct access to Kimpton Hotels’ CEO. How many members contact the CEO and can you tell us about any changes that have been implemented as a result?
White
We maintain our pioneering spirit by being good listeners. Kimpton’s CEO receives frequent calls directly from guests and takes this unique form of feedback seriously. Ultimately, Kimpton’s loyalty perks are determined by our guests.

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