Are Loyalty Programs Still Important Today?

holding-cardsIn the vast world of the hotel industry are loyalty programs as important today as they used to be?

In a study conducted by STATISTA, twenty five percent of respondents stated that they had spent more than 30 nights in hotels while traveling on business over the past year. If you are going to spend that much time in a hotel room, why not earn points for a discount or even a free room?  Well, it seems that consumers might want more than a discount or a freebie.

In the past, guests were genuinely loyal to a brand. However, things have started to change and boutique hotels and independent hotels are finding their niche, and guest loyalty might be wavering at some of the branded hotels.

According to, in 2019 these four loyalty programs have been ranked the most popular:

  • Marriott Rewards (Bonvoy)
  • Wyndham Rewards
  • World of Hyatt
  • Hilton Honors

Why did Marriott come out on top?  The Marriott Rewards program lets members earn rewards points for stays in 17 affiliated brands. In addition to hotel stays and room upgrades, guests can redeem points for spa and dining gift cards, merchandise or for unique experiences, such as concerts and sporting events. Maybe it’s the “unique experiences” that makes Marriott’s program stand out. Could this be the reason why many brands are starting to build hotels that have more of a boutique feel to them?

The guest experience at independent or smaller boutique hotels might be a deciding factor that outweighs the “points” that someone could earn at a branded property, especially as the rewards programs work to catch up with today’s experiential traveler’s needs and wants.  

Darcy Shaw, General Manager of The Lancaster Arts Hotel in Lancaster Pennsylvania (a boutique hotel), agrees and shares, “Guests are looking for more of an experience … a warm change to the regular normal. Our staff is charming and helpful.  It’s just more intimate yet professional and upscale. We have the opportunity to wow each guest.  If WE do that …THEY will be back.”

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