Monday, May 13, 2013

Rewarding Loyalty - @HiltonHotels (A Work-Related Post)

Last September, my wife and I stole away for a very brief visit to Los Angeles for our anniversary.  Since I also needed airfare, a car rental, convenience and stealth (I purchased the whole deal ahead of time without telling her), I went through Expedia.  They're easy to use, give me good rates and in this case, also a $50 discount by opening up an Expedia branded credit card.  Also handy because it helped me further obscure the purchase while I was paying it off.

I chose the Embassy Suites in Glendale for a couple of reasons, one of which was that the Hilton Family of Hotels is the Official Hotel Chain of the Lamb Family.  Whenever we can, we stay at a Hilton Hotel, preferably Embassy Suites.  (The ones in Oxnard, Calif. and Lake Buena Vista/Orlando, Fla. are pretty cool hotels.  Glendale, not so much.  Bellevue, Wash. is pretty standard.  Can't recall any other Embassy Suites.)

So I included my Hilton Hhonors points in the notes for the hotel and presented by Citibank Hilton Hhonors credit card at checkin for incidentals.  Ended up with a subpar room, but didn't spend much time in it anyhow, so whatever, and great breakfast and neat lobby, very friendly staff.  But the most bizarre parking lot ever.  I know it used to be a Red Lion hotel before Hilton bought the property, but the parking is so bizarre, it's like they just dug under the building and the adjacent building (you can tell at one point you're driving through a formerly solid wall that they've cut through the concrete) and then paved.  So many columns, so much unusable space.  Crazy.  Anyhow, I digress.

Bottom line, we love Hilton. (The Hilton Arctic Club in Seattle?  Totally awesome.  Cannot wait to stay there again, especially if we get a top floor room again.)


I realized a few weeks ago that I wasn't seeing any mention of our stay so I contacted them and provided details as best I could.  The fact that they wanted specific information I wouldn't have and provided little area for notes, I should have guessed it wasn't going to happen.


So I got back a decent enough form letter from the oddly generic "Document Services" account.  I almost tossed it as junk except that the preview line on my phone showed me that it included my Hilton Hhonors number at the start of the email.

So anyhow, there's a whole lot of conditions under which you aren't rewarded for your stay, including:

  • Wholesale/tour operator packages
  • Contracted airline crew rates
  • Travel industry rates (including but not limited to travel agent discount rates)
  • Complimentary or barter rooms
  • NET Group rates
  • Series Group or IT Group rates
  • Contracted Entertainment or Encore rates
  • Master Bill bookings (irrespective of incidentals)
  • Third party websites bookings (for example. Expedia.com, Priceline.com, etc) this rate is also ineligible to receive credit for any incidentals that are paid at the time of your stay.
  • "Opaque" channel bookings where the brand is unknown at the time of purchase
  • "No Show" or cancelled bookings

Some of these make sense to me.  Some of them not so much.  I may have used Expedia, but I still chose Hilton.  Third parties help provide exposure and sell rooms.

It seems like this is a missed opportunity on the part of Hilton...  Were I the King of Hilton, I would reward existing Hhnonors members at a reduced rate.  I would also award non Hilton Hhonors members with points, as a way to introduce them to the program.  

Essentially, I would award anyone who stays -- for any reason -- points.  Attending a conference? Bam - Here's 100 points and a brochure about the program.  Here with mommy and daddy on vacation? Bam - Here's a certificate for 100 points signed by the manager, a line drawing of the hotel with a blank space to draw the whole family in front of the hotel and a box of crayons with the Hilton and hotel logos and an inflatable (easily deflatable for packing) beach ball with the logos.  And a cookie!

Some people might see points as a silly useless thing.  But some people, especially if they don't belong to any hotel points program, may now become a brand regular.  In the email world, best practice says that people will not subscribe to more than one vertical (keep them from unsubscribing to keep them from subscribing to your competition.)  I suspect the same holds true in the world of points - that people won't invest time and effort into collecting points from multiple competing partners, so if you can give points to someone who previously had none, you might just sway their ongoing loyalty.

Points to the people!


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