This interview is part of our Moving Forward Blog Series, where we ask major brands how they’re adapting to changing consumer expectations from a loyalty perspective post-pandemic.
Officials at Best Western Hotels & Resorts certainly know something about customer loyalty.
For the past seven years, the Best Western Rewards loyalty program has earned a top five ranking in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hotel Rewards Programs list.
One of the keys to Best Western’s loyalty success has been constantly evolving the program. Best Western officials achieve this by listening to their customers, identifying their pain points, and addressing them.
Delivering on their brand promise has been a longstanding mantra at Best Western.
But they never encountered anything like the impact of COVID-19 and changes in consumer behavior.
We caught up with Tammy Lucas, Vice President of Marketing for Best Western Hotels & Resorts, and here’s what she had to say about:
- Changes in consumer behavior.
- How new consumer behaviors might impact Best Western moving forward.
- What her team is doing from a loyalty perspective.
- What customer loyalty will look like in our “new reality.”
Jim Tierney: How have customer behavior and expectations changed during the pandemic?
Tammy Lucas: This crisis is like no other as we know, shaking up the world and driving down consumer confidence in just about everything, especially when it comes to traveling.
As COVID cases and regions continue to see spikes, and as we wait until a proven vaccine is available, consumer sentiment continues to be something we are monitoring very closely.
When it comes to travel and especially hotel stays, the expectations are that hotels are not only following the CDC regulations but that their focus is on a clean and safe stay for their guests.
We were one of the first brands to launch our We Care Clean Program which is an enhanced version of our already high level of cleanliness and safety standards that we hold all our hotels to.
Jim: Consumers have found new behaviors during the pandemic. How do you think these new behaviors will impact BW now and after the pandemic?
Tammy: Listening to your customers and responding to their feedback has always been at the forefront of our brand and it remains a top priority for us, especially as we work closely with our guests to ensure that they are feeling confident and safe when staying with us.
Given that we have always taken pride in delivering superior customer care to our guests, our hotels immediately responded to this crisis, implementing enhanced cleanliness and safety standards, all while balancing the human aspect of delivering on our guests’ needs.
We also flexed our cancellation policy so that those guests that were still considering travel, whether on the frontlines or personal, felt reassured that we were all in this together and that we would take care of them.
This consumer confidence and value have always been the foundation of Best Western’s legacy. We have always been known as a brand you can trust, and this legacy will live on well past this pandemic.
Jim: Having loyal customers is always important for brands. As brands slowly emerge from the pandemic, what are your customer loyalty goals? Are there any specific changes or updates you’re planning to make to your loyalty program?
Tammy: Our Best Western Rewards® program remains one of the top ranked loyalty programs in the industry, and we are grateful that our BWR members remain loyal to us.
In recognition of this loyalty and understanding the impact that this crisis would have on our BWR members, we wanted to show them just how much we care, so we were the first brand to announce that we were extending their Elite Status until 2022.
We also continued to offer a variety of booking and promotional incentives to those that continued to travel. Our current promotion is offering our BWR members who register a $25 Travel Card to come back and stay with us again when they are ready.
We also have a Travel Card BOGO offer that gives our customers a $20 Travel Card as a bonus for every $100 Travel Card they purchase. We are also offering Free Nights and Travel Cards at reduced point values, which provides an even stronger value proposition to our BWR members.
These great offers are ways for us to ensure that we are responding to the needs of our customers, and we will continue to do so in the future.
Jim: What will customer loyalty look like in the “new” retail reality?
Tammy: I believe that loyalty programs will become even more important as we move forward into this new normal, and it will be increasingly important for brands to deliver on the commitments they make to their customers.
With consumer confidence at an all-time low, I believe that brand reputation and trust, combined with a strong loyalty program, has never been more important than now.
This is all part of consumers re-evaluating the brands they truly trust to take care of them and their families as they move forward in their new normal.
It’s one thing to have a strong value proposition as a brand and with your loyalty program, but it’s another thing to deliver on it.
And this is where brands truly need to focus right now.
Especially during this time when many consumers are re-evaluating their loyalty and trust, brands must show transparent value propositions and deliver on them.
Consumers always come back to brands they love and trust to re-establishing emotional connections is a priority.
Then, as Tammy discussed: Incorporating a consistent, value-driven message connected to your loyalty program will go a long way toward retaining and attracting members.
If you’re interested in being a part of this series, or if you just want to learn more about premium loyalty programs, contact us here.