Hotels With Benefits

In a bid to woo globe-trotters, hotels are going out of their way to offer the best loyalty benefits

How delightful it would be to have your own personal Jeeves! Well, if you’re a hotel trotting, sky-sailing business traveller, you might just be in luck. In a bid to raise the stakes in the hotel loyalty landscape and garner a greater share from the world’s most prolific travellers, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc, will soon offer standouts like lifetime status, 24-hour check-in and a dedicated ambassador to loyal clients. Likewise, every hotel worth its salt is now on overdrive, upping the ante with unique loyalty programmes, many of them specifically aimed at the roving executive. Because, for all practical purposes, he is the king of the skies, and the business traveller expects nothing short of royal treatment.

Loyal Treatment

Thanks to globalisation, the breed of mega travellers is ever on the rise, and these sophisticated consumers often get bored by the run-of-the-mill perks offered by hotels. Javier Cedillo- Espin, Senior Director Loyalty Marketing and Partnerships, Starwood Hotels, said, “Starwood conducted a survey of nearly 10,000 travellers across the globe, who travel 25 times or more per year, and it was found that travellers expect more choice, control and personalised service. And since many of our members are also members of other hotel loyalty programs, we believe that loyalty upgrades give them a compelling reason to consolidate their travel with us. Membership in Starwood Preferred Guest, the company’s award-winning loyalty programme, has tripled in India over the past three years, and one out of every two guests at our hotels is an SPG member. In fact, we were recently awarded the top award for the Favourite Hotel Loyalty Program at the Conde Nast Traveller India Reader’s Award 2011 and membership has grown over 270% since 2007. By offering No Blackouts on standard rooms at over 1,000 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries, No Blackouts on hundreds of airlines, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, the programme has proven to be a big draw.”

Their latest loyalty benefits include:
Anytime check-in:

You can bid goodbye to the dratted 3:00 pm check-in time, and take control of your own arrival and departure time. Your24 lets members choose their own 24-hour check-in and checkout time. This is offered to those members who spend 75+ nights at Starwood hotels annually.

Ambassador Service:

Now, all members who stay 100 nights annually are invited to participate in this service designed to provide the ultimate in tailored experiences. What separates this from a traditional travel concierge programme is that these ambassadors work one-on-one with guests to understand their preferences and what matters to them on each trip to deliver a customised experience on property. Ambassadors also provide services beyond the hotel and are even empowered to assist guests when they’re not traveling.

A lifetime of pampering:

Members who have stayed 250 nights total and maintained elite status for at least five years can enjoy their top tier status for life.

Go For Gold

Marc Lorenz, General Manager of Hyatt Regency Kolkata, said that most elite business travellers predominantly expect recognition, better facilities and instant confirmations for their stay from such programmes. And at the Hyatt, loyal customers get a golden passport… literally! “We have a global loyalty card known as ‘Hyatt Gold Passport’, which is our guest recognition and privilege card. It can be availed by all residential guests who are frequent travellers with Hyatt. Apart from this, we also offer Courtesy Card, Yatt’it and Hyatt Concierge programmes for privileged customers. It is important to have a good rewards system because customers are always looking for benefits and acquiring higher tier status. The customer is also very aware of what the various loyalty programmes offer.

The Golden Passport

There are three types of Hyatt Passports- Gold Passport, Platinum Passport and Diamond Passport and the eligibility criteria and factors are different for each. For Gold Passport- five points per eligible dollar spent, free nights with no blackout dates, points to miles conversion with over 30 participating travel partners. A person is eligible to get the Platinum Passport after five eligible stays or 15 eligible nights with an offer of 15% point bonus on each stay, complimentary in-room Internet access, guaranteed 72-hour room availability and special rewards after every third eligible stay. After 25 eligible stays, one can get the Diamond Passport, with 30% point bonus on each stay, complimentary in-room Internet access, guaranteed 48-hour room availability and four suite upgrades annually.

Additionally, members can also sign up to be part of Yatt’it- the new online travel community from Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, which offers an essential combination of candid, fellow-traveller advice, lively discussion forums and direct-booking options. Yatt’it also doles out expert insight and tips and has partnerships with well-trusted travel websites.

Beat The Competition

Ashwani K Goela, Executive Assistant Manager, Crowne Plaza Today Okhla, revealed, “About 45% of our revenue comes from guests who are members of the loyalty programme. And we offer three types of Programmes- each of them tailored to a different clientele.” Some of the more interesting offers extended to resident guests are:

a) Free membership

b) Points never expire

c) Option to earn points on the entire folio and not just on the room folio

d) Quick and easy redemption

e) Allocation of rooms in all hotels of IHG worldwide

Staying at the Marriott comes with its set of unique benefits, like:

250+ ways to use points, no blackout dates, your preferences remembered, earn points or airline miles, priority check-in, instant redemption, eFolio, elite reservation line and exclusive guest services line.

Caroline Alexander, Director of Sales, Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre, said, “Business travellers today are always on the lookout for more inclusions bundled in their rates and the Marriott Rewards helps them to gain more every time they stay with us- we gain a loyal guest at the end of the day.”

No Better Time For Loyalty Programmes

Romil Ratra, GM, InterContinental Marine Drive, believes that given the current state of the industry, there has never been a better time for rewards programmes. He said, “The important thing to remember is not to have benefits that look good only on paper; any benefits offered must be based on what actually drives value to the customer. There must be integrity, no fine print or the hidden terms, no point expiry, recognition and quick response time.”

At the InterContinental Marine Drive, there are two types of loyalty benefits, and The Priority Club Rewards has more than 53 million members worldwide. With around 4,500 locations, you can redeem points instantly for hotel stays, transfer points between member accounts, opt for airline, redeem points for flights, use points to book and stay virtually anywhere — even at competitor’s hotels, enjoy exclusive member-only, in-hotel perks and even earn points through their partners for everyday living, such as renting a car, buying flowers and more.

And with such benefits on offer for the executive traveller, loyalty hardly seems like a tough price to pay! “The important thing to remember is not to have benefits that look good only on paper; any benefits offered must be based on what actually drives value to the customer,” said Romil Ratra, GM, InterContinental Marine Drive

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