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Expert Advice on Choosing a Hotel Loyalty Program

Photo: Courtesy of Yuya Hata
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Wee Kee Ng

Vice President – Loyalty & Partner Marketing, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Loyalty programs come in many different varieties, and choosing one will depend on your interests, destinations and frequency of travel. 

What should guests look for when choosing a loyalty program?

In addition to tangible benefits such as points and amenities, based on our research and interaction with our members, we know that recognition and personalization are important. When you stay at Shangri-La, we do our best to ensure each member receives the high level of service that Shangri-La is known for, and a unique and personal experience. A loyalty program should offer value outside your hotel stay, so finding a loyalty program that compliments your lifestyle is advantageous. This is one of the reasons we have strategic alliances with Singapore Airlines and Taj Hotels, amongst others.

There are so many options on the market. How do you recommend someone go about choosing the best loyalty program for their needs?

Nearly every hospitality company has a loyalty program. They often offer similar benefits, so we would encourage guests to look at them holistically and ask themselves important questions: What can I do with the points I earn? Does the program partner with airlines I like to use? Do I agree with the brand values? Many guests will be a member of more than one loyalty program out of practicality, as each program may not be present in every city the guest travels to. The experience one has when staying at a hotel reflects the overall strategy of the company’s focus on loyalty.

What makes Shangri-La’s loyalty program stand out?

Our focus is on our members. We have worked hard over the last year to relaunch our mobile app and our website, keeping the member’s journey in mind so we can make everything simpler and more enjoyable. For example, Diamond members can use our app to tell us if they prefer red wine, white wine, coke or diet coke as their welcome amenity. Your choice may differ depending on your trip, and it’s easily updated on the app. There are many examples of this throughout Golden Circle. 

What do you see for the future of loyalty programs?

Loyalty programs must progress with the times and continue their focus on ensuring that their members are at the center of everything they do. There have been many discussions around how loyalty programs can use blockchain and cryptocurrencies, but we have yet to see if members would be interested in this. The most important thing we must do is keep the desires of our members at the core of our decisions.

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