Travelling smart: Incentivizing customers through loyalty programs

By Josephine Wawira

Surviving in a highly competitive hospitality industry calls for definitive strategies to acquire prospective customers and convert existing ones into loyal brand ambassadors. One of the approaches that continue to play a winning role for hotels and other industry players are customized loyalty programs that easily help convert one-off guests into returning customers. The most important aspect of any incentive program that manages to influence guests’ booking behavior is its packaging, keeping in mind the customers’ diversity as well as individualism.

Image by Daniel Krason

Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are good examples of this, notably the launch of Jumia Travel’s Smart Loyalty Program aimed at creating more value for its loyal customers. Members of the program will receive up to 10% to 20% exclusive discounts on hotels and flight bookings as well as holiday packages.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Midy, states that “we are constantly on our toes as a business to offer more value in terms of pricing, variety in hotels & flights options, and there is no better way to enable our Travel Smart customers book the best hotels at the best price.” The Loyalty Program includes incentives such as early check-ins, late check outs, as well as free airport pickups.

Moreover, such incentives are a major traction for corporates that have frequent executives travelling especially for business purposes. This is because in most cases they tend to have specific preferences like location and amenities that are most suitable for their business travels/stays. This not only helps incentivize travelers to for instance loyally book through the OTA, but also helps thrive B2B partnerships. That means that in the case of an online travel agency and a hotel, the OTA acquires loyal brand advocates, while the hotels get access to a customer-base of registered and frequent users.

Hotels also benefit from increased visibility and marketing on the OTA’s special campaigns that promote the loyalty programs. The biggest catch is to ensure that the programs are designed in a way that even when there are targets to be met, customers also get to justly reap the benefits. Setting a target for the clients, such as receiving a special treat after earning certain points; is a great strategy to keep them returning.

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