Responding to a recent Communique article on hotel loyalty programmes, CWT’s Nina Gomez says such schemes have benefits. But do your homework.
Many event planners care about loyalty programmes as they’re an effective way to defray costs and generate savings. This could be by converting points to room stays for meeting and event attendees, or as cash rebates to offset event expenses incurred at the hotel, such as venue rental and catering.
There are several factors for meeting and event planners to consider when selecting a corporate loyalty programme. The number of brands and properties included is obviously an important factor — you want to select a programme that gives you enough options to choose from. Ease of earning and redeeming points is also key. Some hotels even allow you to earn and use points with affiliate hotel brands.
At CWT Meetings & Events, in cases where the client has their own corporate loyalty programme, points are credited directly to their account. Other times, the agency may collect the points. In either case, the most important thing is to be transparent with the client.
It’s also important to look at what benefits the loyalty points can be used for. Can the points be used purely for room expenses or can they also be used to offset meeting and event costs at the hotel? The greater the variety of rewards, the more attractive the programme becomes. For example, some programmes even provide complimentary room nights for planners during site inspections.
During off-peak seasons, hotels also sometimes offer special promotions to MICE bookers with loyalty programmes, such as meetings packages, room upgrades, complimentary rooms and amenities, complimentary F&B, and complimentary audio-visual support.
Increasingly, we see planners looking to select new properties and destinations each year for their annual events, like company summits and partner networking events. This means comprehensive loyalty programmes that cover a wide range of destinations and properties are more attractive.
At the same time, hotels are increasingly recognising and responding to demand from the meetings and events industry for loyalty programmes — compared with some years ago when most schemes were just targeted at transient business travellers and leisure travellers. There is also much greater engagement by hoteliers, informing planners about new destinations and benefits that are covered by their loyalty programmes.
One of the key challenges is how long loyalty points last — if the points are only valid for a short period, the loyalty programme becomes less attractive to planners. At the same time, hotel brands also have to contend with their competitors constantly introducing more enticing perks and benefits, as well as increased competition from independent hotel brands.
Nina Gomez is head of operations – Singapore, CWT Meetings & Events. This article was compiled by staff at Untangled, a Singapore-based content, marketing, and business strategy consultancy.