Mar232010

I’m in love with my hotel brand, so forget about the points dear!

Are you kidding?

Yes, I am.

Although I am making fun of a portion of the article, “Loyalty schemes — What Really Matters,” I agree with many of Rob Rush’s statements and I recommend you read the piece arguing why it is good business sense for a hotel loyalty program to extend elite status for members who may not have re-qualified for elite membership in 2010.

But I don’t agree with this statement as it applies to hotel loyalty programs:

Strong emotional connections (what true loyalty is really all about) will always trump any kind of points program, period.”

I’m not married to a hotel brand. My strong emotional connection lasts as long as I feel I am getting good hotel value with the hotel chain. I think of the relationship as a business partnership. I’ll work for the team effort and help us both be rewarded, but the bottom line is my economics and I’ll work/stay some other place if that is in my best interest in the long run.

Hotel loyalty is a business partnership that can be win-win for us both. Hotel loyalty is not a marriage that needs to be developed mutually for each other’s benefit through better or worse.

In a hotel-guest relationship, I am the customer. Hotels and hotel loyalty programs compete for the pool of guests and the basic economic principle of business is to keep the customer satisfied and returning.

When hotel loyalty programs announce there will be changes in our relationship as Hilton and Marriott recently did, but keep the details from me until the changes take effect, then I don’t feel there is mutual respect for me as a partner in the loyalty program.

“Hey honey, remember last month I told you there would be some changes to our relationship. Here is the new contract stating you will need to work a little more to pay the mortgages from now on because I just remodeled the vacation home (without your input) and employed a full time staff (without consulting you) and since we are so in debt now, I think you have to contribute more than you have in the past to make this relationship continue to work for both of us.”

I feel Hilton’s argument to its loyalty members for why it needed to raise the cost of award nights in the middle of a hotel economic recession is analogous to a marriage where one spouse has little input in the decisions affecting the relationship.

Finding true love is hard. Infatuation is a strong emotion, but doesn’t necessarily last. Building a life together with someone you love takes perseverance, mutual respect, and dedication.

Finding a good hotel is not nearly so hard. Hotel beauty is easy to admire. There are plenty of pretties all around to catch your eye and enchant you this year. But next year something younger and prettier will be around enticing you to visit. Are you going to forsake all other hotels for your true love?

Developing strong emotional connections to a hotel?

Yes, I have had some.

Falling in love with a hotel loyalty program?

Frequent travelers may find it hard to be monogamous.

A hotel loyalty program is a relationship that requires mutual reinforcement and commitment, but I don’t foresee the need to make reconciliation efforts before granting a divorce from your hotel program when the mutual benefit wears thin.  In a relationship where one party has control over all the assets and benefits, sometimes the best solution is to just walk away.

If the hotel program truly desires you, then it should make the effort to get you to come back.

And diamond and platinum accoutrements tend to show intent from your partner of a serious engagement.

Related posts: Hilton HHonors Dumped Me This Week

Christopher Elliot http://www.elliott.org/blog/i-was-rudely-told-9000-points-is-really-not-much/

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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