60 Seconds with Heather Passe, VP of Marketing, Loyalty and E-commerce, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

60 Seconds with Heather Passe, VP of Marketing, Loyalty and E-commerce, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Last March, Carlson replaced its long-standing goldpoints plus loyalty program with its next-generation Club Carlson. Now that the new program has had a full year of progress to look back on, we checked in with Heather Passe, Vice President of Marketing, Loyalty and E-commerce, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group to see how things are going. (Carlson merged with Rezidor in January 2012.) Passe shared her thoughts with us on the new program and what members can anticipate from Club Carlson in the months and years to come.

InsideFlyer
The Radisson Hotel Big Night Giveaway offering 50,000 points for a one-night stay created quite a stir last year. Why did Club Carlson decide to launch that particular promotion?
Passe
The Big Night Giveaway campaign celebrated the U.S. debut of the Radisson Blu brand with the opening of our upper upscale Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.

IF
In his Opening Remarks, publisher Randy Petersen asks, “Did Radisson simply ‘out Groupon’ Groupon with a bonus that caused many travelers to ‘pre-buy’ an advance purchase at a Carlson Hotel?” Do you have a response?
Passe
The Big Night Giveaway drove incremental revenue in the form of share shift, as new customers tried us for the first time.

IF
The current offer of triple points on all stays is also an attractive offer. Can members expect comparable promotions to be part of Club Carlson’s strategy in the future?
Passe
You’ll continue to see compelling offers from Club Carlson as we aim to be the most customer-centric loyalty program in the hotel industry.

IF
What challenges has Club Carlson faced since its launch on March 31, 2011?
Passe
Club Carlson is one of the fastest growing hotel loyalty programs and we aim to continue on that trajectory. Accordingly, we are constantly evaluating our products and services with a strong focus on ensuring we are truly a customer-centric program. We’d like our members to feel recognized and rewarded, plus get the very best value for their loyalty.

IF
What have been some of the early successes?
Passe
Enrollments are up 35 percent year-over-year and redemptions are up almost 60 percent since the launch of Club Carlson–showing success in the marketplace.

IF
When the program debuted, it was “designed to be one of the most rewarding programs in travel.” How is it more rewarding than other hotel loyalty programs?
Passe
When creating the new program, we redesigned both the earning and redemption structures. Our aim was to provide members a program that required the least amount of spend to earn a free night. With 20 Gold Points per U.S. dollar spent on eligible stays, and award nights starting at only 9,000 points, members can earn an award night with as few as three paid nights (based on $150 spend per night). Club Carlson truly provides members with a faster way to a free night’s stay.

IF
Are there any upcoming partners for earning or redeeming points that you can tell us about?
Passe
Members were happy to hear that we added PayPal as a global redemption partner in January. And, as of Feb. 15, National Car Rental and Alamo are new earning partners. Members can earn 300 points per rental day, but a special launch promotion sweetens that offer even more.

IF
It is rumored that a Club Carlson co-branded credit card is in the works. Can you confirm this or share any details?
Passe
We hope to have exciting program news soon.

IF
What is your favorite Club Carlson hotel?
Passe
There are many of our hotels that I have enjoyed staying at as a frequent guest as I travel for business and leisure, and look forward to visiting many more. But, the new Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago, located in the heart of downtown Chicago, is unique: rich in contemporary design and style, exceptional services and attention to every detail, with incredible public spaces and guest rooms. Already well-known in Europe and Asia with more than 225 properties worldwide, it is exciting to introduce the upper upscale Radisson Blu brand to the Americas.

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