In this series, we’ve been looking at what makes for a successful hotel loyalty program. But what about a program that fails to hit the mark? In designing a program that will increase the number of loyal repeat guests while reducing marketing costs and boosting revenue, independent hoteliers need to be paying attention not only to what elements to include, but also to what mistakes to avoid.

Small and independent hotels, in particular, should take note; their programs rely completely on how well they’re executed, whereas chains can leverage multiple locations to increase the benefits and conveniences of their rewards programs. Here are ten common errors that have been the downfall of otherwise well-designed hotel loyalty programs. Avoid them to establish a flourishing and lucrative loyalty program for your independent hotel.

Neglecting the rooms

If your rooms are outdated, guests won’t be likely to return—loyalty program or not. Meet modern standards with these affordable and necessary updates. Want to do even more to enhance the value of your rooms? Here are some tips on how to exceed expectations on the essentials you offer.

Relying on the financial perks alone

Modern guests appreciate great deals—discounts, upgrades, and gifts. But they’re also looking for an incredible guest experience. Deliver on the basics and then take it a step further to truly win them over.

Relying on word of mouth

Having a loyalty program is just the first step in the right direction. For guests to enroll in and engage with a hotel loyalty program, however, they have to know about it. Promote yours on your website, through social media channels, on the “news” sections of your hotel profiles, and of course, in your hotel.

Adding too many tiers

Complex plans make it difficult for members to navigate their way from entry-level to elite status. Help them embrace your program with a simple one- to three-tier structure.

Including numerous policies

The more rules, regulations, and stipulations there are, the harder it is for your guests to earn perks, and the less value they’ll see in your program. Define the benefits clearly and keep restrictions to a minimum to incite engagement rather than discourage it.

Forgetting to motivate guests at every tier

If a guest doesn’t see the continued benefits of sticking to a hotel loyalty program, they’ll abandon it. By giving guests clear goals to work towards, early on and at every tier, you’ll motivate them to stay at your hotel every chance they get.

Focusing only on the long term

An enormous reward such as a free stay or some exclusive package, which is nearly impossible to reach except for perhaps a business traveller who stays in a hotel every other night, won’t motivate most users to move through the program. A mix of both short- and long-term benefits, however, certainly will.

Treating direct bookings like any other bookings

Guests who book directly are more interested in doing business with you than with a booking site or third-party agent. Their bookings are also commission free. Don’t treat them like other travellers; reward them for their direct business with extra perks right from the start—a welcome drink, for example.

Forgetting the follow-up

People are busy and can be quick to forget about a hotel loyalty program they signed up for, no matter how good it is. Remind your enrolled guests about the program and the perks that come with it by sending out a follow-up email a month or two—or even a year—after their last stay.

Taking repeat guests for granted

Hoteliers see many, many faces come through their hotels, which is a good thing, as it’s a sign of steady business. The downside is that it can make it harder to remember who your repeat guests are. Loyal guests want to be remembered; they want to feel special. The easiest way to grant them this is by keeping notes on their preferences and the details of their previous stays with a smart property management system. It can help you prepare their room exactly to their liking before they even check in.

Does your hotel offer a loyalty program already? Have a feature or two that’s brought you a lot of positive feedback? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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trivago Hotel Manager Blog

A dedicated group of industry researchers and journalists make up the team behind trivago’s blog for hoteliers. Covering key topics in the hospitality industry, they publish articles on hotel technology and marketing, trends, events, and expert insights to help keep hoteliers up to speed and equipped with the knowledge they need to compete online.

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