Impact Publications : MiceBTN_64
MICEBTN - augusT-oCToBEr - 2016 • Page 55 For more articles and complimentary eBooks by Robyn Henderson, visit www. networkingtowin. com.au Hotel loyalty pays – but we do all need to read the fine print By Robyn Henderson tHErE are some assumed benefits when road warriors sign up for hotel loyalty schemes, including cheaper hotel room rates and a willingness for the hotel to match a cheaper rate that the guest has found on a third party web site. However, not every hotel is keen to explain how to use their rewards points and unfortunately, regular travellers can miss out on hundreds of points earned and lost. And often, they don’t even know. Let me share a recent experience with you. A group of business travel- lers were planning a trip to a friend’s wedding in a capital city. They agreed to make a weekend of it, use up some loyalty points and to chip in for a great wedding present part funded by their free flights and accommodation. The flights were fantastic, a choice of points and pay, upgrade options and basically the pick of flights with both major Australian airlines. No wonder Qantas just announced record profits, its loyalty program is easily explained and even easier to use. But the hotels were another story. The road warriors collectively had hotel rewards cards from a cross section of the destination city’s major hotels and thought they would have sufficient points to pay for two or more nights’ accommodation. However, on closer inspection of re- ward restrictions, they found one major hotel chain deletes unused points six months after earning them. Our group collectively had a spread of points across a number of hotel chains, but the friends had an even higher number of points that had been deleted from their accounts without notice. It’s crazy. Surely a hotel loyalty pro- gram should remind you when you’re about to lose a key benefit you signed up for? If they did send a reminder that 350 points were about to expire and a suggestion that they could be used on the next business trip or for a weekend away, most guests would be delighted. Not only would the points be used, the guest would save money and might be more inclined to stay at the group’s hotels more often. And it’s a two-way street. The hotel gains money spent on meals, movies, internet, parking, mini bar, drinks and so on in the hotel. And of course, it’s money not spent with a competitor. But our story gets worse. One of the wedding group first booked two nights’ rewards-points funded accommodation at one hotel chain, but when he learned most of the group was staying at anoth- er hotel, he cancelled his booking. This caused him to lose the points (the cancellation policy said if you can- cel a points-based booking, you lose all the points). He didn’t find out about that rule until he went to re-use the points the next week on a planned trip. If he had simply rescheduled the original dates instead of cancelling, he would not have lost one single point. How many empty rooms do these hotels have over a 12-month period? In off-peak times, occupancy rates can drop as low as 30 to 50 per cent. Surely it’s better to have a guest using a com- plimentary room voucher and spending money within the hotel than leaving the room vacant 24/7? Which hotel chain will be the first one to take action? My guess is the hotel chain that realis- es that the entire hotel industry is under- going disruption. Innovate or perish.