According to one recent study the answer to that question is – somewhat shockingly – yes. The report says that 54% of members find the programs are so out of touch with the needs of their guests that it is enough to drive them away. Putting aside that most customers feel this way, suggesting that the grass isn’t any greener elsewhere, this raises some interesting questions about hotel loyalty programs in general, mostly about whether they are valuable or not.
Also according to the report, biggest complaints about the hotel programs include:
- “Too much spam and junk email” – 44%
- “Too many conditions and restrictions” – 38%
- “Rewards that lacked real value” – 37%
I’ve made no secret of my general distaste for hotel loyalty programs. I rarely find the value proposition a smart play for me. And while I’ve heard a few others chime in recently with similar views I’ve never seen numbers this bad. But I certain understand the sentiments expressed regarding the junk mail. Just looking at the past three weeks I’ve received, on average, one email every work day from Hilton.
Apparently their data mining isn’t very good as they cannot figure out that my dream vacation wouldn’t go anywhere close to Hawaii, I have no desire to visit one of their spas and Puerto Rico, London, Paris, Rome or a Grand Prix aren’t high on my list at all. Hilton has taken a shotgun approach to marketing, just hoping that something sticks. Just like spammers. And while this is not enough to drive me away that’s only because I’m already gone.
The survey reveals that only 40% of the members are even opening the emails sent to them. That number may seem disappointing but I’m not sure how it compares to other markets or industries. I would hazard a guess that it actually isn’t all that horrible. As much as the customers hate the misguided targeting and the marketing of services already subscribed, they are still opening at least some of the messages.
Reports like this always give me pause. If the programs really are missing this badly then is there a chance of them being fixed? The institutional momentum in this case will make it very hard for any one program to become significantly different and alter the course. Airlines are in a similar bind but a few have made changes in their programs which are relatively drastic. Hotels may have to do the same.