Loyalty programs of world’s biggest brands are still growing

by | Jul 26, 2018 | Chains

Membership to the loyalty programs of some of the world’s biggest hotel groups has been steadily on the rise in 2018.

Loyalty schemes are one of the cornerstones of the traditional hotel business model, and even now continue to be one of the most important generators of customer returns. Healthy growth of big brands’ loyalty programs point to an ever-increasing interest in rewards schemes. We take a look at some of the most popular loyalty programs out there.

The big five

To those unfamiliar with hotel group’s loyalty programs, the numbers of membership may sound staggering, given that they far surpass the populations of some of the world’s most populous countries. The combined membership number of the world’s top five leading hotel brands sails past the headcount of the US, which totals 328 million people. Across the loyalty programs of Choice Hotels International with Choice Privileges, Hilton with Hilton Honors, InterContinental Hotels Group with IHG Rewards, Marriott International with Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts with Wyndham Rewards, total membership amounts to approximately 380 million guests and counting.

Serious growth

The figures of these loyalty programs are certainly nothing to be sniffed at. According to figures released by each of the groups, the membership of each program is as follows: Marriott’s rewards program has more than 110 million members across its combined schemes, IHG counts more than 100 million members in its loyalty program, Hilton has 74 million people signed up the the Honors program, Wyndham’s number is 56 million, not including La Quinta Rewards, which would bring it to 69 million, and Choice Hotels’ membership is a healthy 35.8 million. These numbers are due in no small part to the upsurge in new members in the past year, with 4 million people signing up on average per month. Hotel brands have put a renewed focus on their loyalty programs, and the numbers reflect this push towards customer return: Hilton has seen their membership increase by 26% in 2018 since 2017, Choice’s has gone up 17%, Wyndham’s loyalty membership has seen a 12.1% rise in the same time, while Marriott and IHG can be happy with a 10% and 11% increase in membership respectively.

Loyalty at the forefront

People at the top of some of the world’s biggest hotel groups say that loyalty is the most important factor in staving off competition from big tech companies, home-sharing platforms and online travel agents. Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson said recently, “We have disruptors who are without a doubt trying to take ownership of our customers. I think less about Airbnb than I do about Google and Facebook and these digital empires who own all of us for some things. You can add Amazon to that list, too. They are all trying to say they have a profile for every customer. Make no bones about it; they want to own our customer.” So loyalty programs are becoming bigger, better and more beneficial to the customer to enable brands to retain direct bookings and keep occupancy rates up. The loyalty programs and the guest data they generate are some of the most effective tools at the hospitality industry’s disposal, so it is no wonder that this renewed focus is generating such impressive results.

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