60 Seconds with Tom Griffiths, VP at Worldhotels

60 Seconds with Tom Griffiths, VP at Worldhotels

Worldhotels Peakpoints is the new loyalty program for Worldhotels, a worldwide group of independent upscale hotels. The program, launched April 24, 2014, is being billed as, “one of the first all-virtual programs in the market.” We recently spoke with Tom Griffiths, VP at Worldhotels.

InsideFlyer
What type of research did you do when designing the program?
Tom Griffiths
We started about two years ago, maybe even two and a half years ago, evaluating the pros and cons of loyalty in frequent guest programs. It’s not that we didn’t think they were important or relevant, but what we were trying to do was gauge their future importance based upon changing demographics and travel trends. We took our time, and did a fairly exhaustive research in different types of travelers, whether they be leisure or business travelers. Then we looked at travelers based upon age as well as position in their professions. So what we were trying to do is gauge what would be relevant for the future, and not imitate anybody in the past. So there was an awful lot of in-person interviews in various focus groups as well as in-lobby interviews with actual guests of our hotels; and we also did various surveys through our website. This was able to provide us with a general road map for the next 10 years with respect to becoming loyal to a brand of hotels and how we might be able to structure that loyalty.

IF
What are some of the benefits of membership?
Griffiths
The currency of the program is points and those points themselves have a tangible value–the more you stay, the more points you earn–but the real key is in the redemption of those points. You don’t have to stay 10 times, 20 times, 30 times to get benefit from your loyalty to Worldhotels. Essentially, you can start redeeming after one to two stays with us because points don’t necessarily just reflect room nights and free stays, but also certificates that can be redeemed like cash in a hotel for food and beverage, or room service or spa services, for coffee at a coffee kiosk–so the ability for the member to redeem quickly is one of the very big benefits to our members. And they don’t have to have five stays, 10 stays, 15, 20, stays to earn enough points to redeem for a free room. We made it very easy for members to use the points as quickly as they earn them for things as small as a $25 gift certificate; and we believe that the quicker we can get members to get value out of their relationship from Worldhotels, the more loyal they will become, and the more frequent they will be customers of ours. The lowest redemption level is 2,000 points and points can be earned on every stay–and those points can be redeemed around the world at any one of our nearly 500 hotels.

IF
Do you have plans to introduce a co-branded credit card where members can earn points with purchases?
Griffiths
We have talked about it. The first step is not to have a co-branded card in the first year of our launch and rollout. However, there is room for a credit card at some point in time should the customers we are engaging from a membership standpoint say that it is important to them.

IF
Do you have plans to add new partners in the program? What kind of partners are you looking at?
Griffiths
Yes. We have airline affiliations with 26 airlines around the world and today, we have the ability to reward miles for each guest staying as well. The goal for the second phase of Peakpoints is to enable all members to redeem their Peakpoints for airline miles. I can see more partners on the retail side of things being added to enable our members more flexibility in redeeming their points.

IF
Did you offer elite status to any of your current customers or is everyone starting from scratch?
Griffiths
Well, I would be fibbing if I said that everyone is starting from scratch because we already do have a base of loyal customers of Worldhotels. So we will be inviting a select group of those folks to join us at the Navigator level. In addition, our hotels also have key contacts that they are going to extend those same Navigator benefits to. But by and large, everyone is going to start at the base, or Silver level, of the program. Because, the early potential is great and the redemption level is low.

IF
What other enhancements can members look forward to?
Griffiths
Once we have the program launched and officially in the marketplace, there will be more soft enhancements that will happen at the property levels, being able to recognize the members when they are making reservations and checking in, upgrades that will be available, special added amenities at the property level, will be implemented. And I think our members will enjoy the degree of service.

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