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Choice Hotels - The Choice Privileges Loyalty Program Relaunch

Choice Hotels introduces the new, relaunched Choice Privileges – giving guests the faster way to rewards.

In recent years, we felt that there was an opportunity to both grow our hotel company’s loyalty member base as well as activity levels. We talked to both casual and heavy users of hotel programs and heard consistently that ‘rewards’ were becoming too difficult to obtain. This insight, coupled with Net Promoter Score information against competitors, indicated that we had to make significant changes to meet customer expectations. Working with both research and creative, we developed a new positioning that would differentiate us from the competition – delivering rewards faster – whether it be a small gift on day 1 or the dream vacation of a lifetime. New benefits, key programmatic changes, and new brand messaging culminated in the relaunch of our loyalty program, giving members the ‘Faster way to Rewards.’ Notable changes include:
- Your Extras - Guests are rewarded right at check-in with a little something extra on top of their normal bonus points or special offers. Members select and can alternate between reward options on each stay – from a $5 Starbucks cards to $2.50 Uber Credit to 500 bonus points. This means members don’t wait for their points to add up – they get free perks as soon as they join the program just by checking in.
- FlexRewards - In order for members to get a free night faster, we discounted hotel reward night levels. Members need fewer points to get a free night – guests’ number one priority according to our research. While other programs put nights on sale by having hotels opt in and paying them less, we pay our hotels the same and put over a thousand hotels on sale at all times.
- Digital gift cards – Now members don’t need to wait for a physical gift card to come in the mail. They can redeem and get their gift card emailed to them to use immediately – including while they are on their trip.
- Points Plus Cash – Members can combine points with cash to redeem for a free night at 5300+ hotels. Through a unique partnership, they can also redeem at luxury hotels across the globe, including more hotels in the Travel & Leisure top 500 hotels than almost any other program.
- 10 points per dollar – Members earn the same number of points at all brands, regardless of chain level.
- Points don’t expire – Members now don’t lose their points as long as they stay active every 18 months.

The brand messaging of the new program was integrated across many channels – both customer- and franchisee-facing. On the consumer side, our campaign comprised of messaging at the hotels, website, mobile app, social media posts – both on our platforms and through a PR campaign with bloggers – digital banner ads, video, emails to existing and non-members, and messaging given to our Contact Center agents. For franchisees, we provided educational materials through online videos, collateral sent to the hotels, email, and various e-learning web sources. Overall, the program relaunch and its messaging were innovative in two key ways.

1. Addresses the cultural need for immediacy – Now more than ever, people expect immediacy. With the click of a button, we can place an order for laundry detergent or search Google for an answer to a question. By extension, customers don’t want to wait for rewards from a loyalty program. Our new benefits enhance our hotels’ value proposition and improve guest satisfaction throughout the customer journey.

2. Delivers a consistent guest experience by using technology to provide benefits – In a franchised model, delivering a consistent guest experience at the hotel can prove problematic, so we leverage innovative technology. Members get their midweek instant reward delivered right to their phone or redeem for a gift card that can be used within seconds. We also give guests discounts on reward nights that require no action by the hotel owner.

As a result of our efforts, we saw and continue to see substantial results. The success of our loyalty program relaunch is demonstrated by a strong lift in acquisition, activation and satisfaction:
- Acquisition – Our loyalty program is acquiring customers faster than any other time in program history. By August of 2016, the program had enrolled more members than in any full year in program history.
- Activation – Both the number of active members and the overall percentage of activity has grown more than in any time since the program began tracking the metric.
- Net Promoter Score – Member Satisfaction has seen strong increases. But, more importantly, members who are aware of and are using the new benefits have significantly higher NPS scores than any other members.

Success of the relaunch is also reflected in the lift in performance by channel. For email, YTD revenue is 7% above an aggressive plan. In the hotels, enrollments are up 44% YOY. On the website, enrollments are up 87% YOY. Because of the updated messaging in those placements, more guests see the benefit to joining the rewards program than ever before.