Thursday, May 10, 2012

CRM for Hotel: Why we need a good loyalty program


I stayed at a Marriott recently, and it took me half of a morning to find my Rewards number, so they could assign my points. Sure, it’s my fault I didn’t carry around my loyalty number around with me- but we all know there are so many programs it’s near impossible to do that. It’s almost expected now that nobody will have their member card with them. Barnes & Noble looks it up by last name and phone number. My video store, the same.
I stop by the front desk on the way to breakfast. I don’t have my number, so they lookup my Marriott rewards account by my last name and the billing zip code from the first time I had registered with them. I’ve only had two spanning the last 10 years, but no, neither work.
I remembered I had an email from them on my iPhone. I scrolled to it in front of the registration person and no, nowhere on it was my number. My points, my first name, but not my member number. (see below)
marriot.JPG
I tell the registration person not to worry and later that day when I remembered, I logged into the site. Still not so easy- you have to click around to your account, profile details (it’s not on there), and then finally the account profile (what’s the difference?) and there is the number, hidden amidst other details. The reason my zip code didn’t work is that it requires the four digit extension. I wonder if they require the dash?
Later that night return to the hotel and provide the number, and then they assigned points. I doubt my parents, or colleagues, would be as determined as me to get these free points. So the kind of rewards member they’re targeting is the cheap, coupon-clipping, business traveler. I doubt that’s their desirable target demographic.
On the site, if you forget your password- and if you forgot your number, you probably forgot your password, is accessible by filling out this strangely lengthy form:
marriott2.JPG
I finally found it because I punched through my usual passwords and struck gold. The lessons I take from this: if someone is already a guest, and they want to assign points to their loyalty program, they should be searchable some of the common criteria .
- email address and/or
- first and last name
Also, the email should either have the account number in the email, or at least, one click away. Currently it’s 3 clicks, login, account page, then profile.
I wonder if they are trying to get regional data from their customers, because hospitality really leans on regional information. The problem is that they are creating this barrier to participation in the program. Perhaps that’s intentional too. If so, this is one of the most intricate, and relatively useless, process in CRM. We build this system, but don’t really want you to participate. We make it hard, so you won’t really take advantage of our offers.
I know it should be different online where there are more fraudulent schemes, but doubting or questioning someone who is already paying X dollars a night in the hotel seems contrary to the hospitality industry’s general attitude towards the customer.
I wonder at these loyalty programs- you get a great segment of your customer database, but is it worth setting up an entirely different experience, and managing the data, which can go awry like in the example above? WellsFargo has a very easy Rewards system that happens very passively from the consumer point of view, no unique number, just a link you click on to agree to the terms, and then you start accruing points.
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