Loyalty Programs in Travel and Hospitality Sector and Key Role of E-CRM

SECTION ONE: TRAVEL LOYALTYINTRODUCTIONThe travel sector offers quite a few loyalty programs – some of which are quite well-known, and successful as well. Within this sector, the sub-vertical that definitively takes the lead in loyalty program adoption and innovation is the Airlines sector.Airlines were among the first businesses to introduce loyalty programs to their customers. Frequent-flyer programs date back to early 1980s when American Airlines started the now iconic American Advantage (AAdvantage) program. Through the Sabre computer reservations system, American Airlines had amassed a database of around 150,000 of its best customers.SOME THE INDUSTRY’S BEST CONTEMPORARY LOYALTY PROGRAMSThe Star Alliance Network is a partnership where frequent flyers can accumulate and redeem miles on the following airlines: United Airlines; Lufthansa; Air Canada; SAS; British Midland; Varig; ANA; Singapore Airlines; Austrian Airlines; Thai Airways; Air New Zealand; and Mexicana.VARIG’s Smiles Program is the most popular frequent flyer loyalty program in Latin America. With Smiles, passengers can earn miles on every VARIG flight, as well as regional, domestic and international flights on Rio Sul, Nordeste, Pluna, South African Airways, Spanair, Alitalia and participating airlines of the Star Alliance. Miles earned can be exchanged for free tickets, upgrades and other benefits.US Airways offers its members greater privileges through additional offers by its Dividend Miles program on travel on US Airways and its partners. The features differ for its three membership types – Silver Preferred, Gold Preferred and Chairman’s Preferred.SECTION TWO: HOSPITALITY LOYALTY
INTRODUCTIONIn the days of inception, the hospitality industry offered loyalty programs together with the travel industry. With time, as the airlines stated their own Frequent Flier Programs, the hospitality industry launched independent frequent guest programs as well. Holiday Inn was amongst the first to launch its own loyalty program, in January 1983 followed by Marriott with its Honored Guest Awards program in the same year.SOME THE INDUSTRY’S BEST CONTEMPORARY LOYALTY PROGRAMSThe recent launch of “Any hotel, Any where” card by the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the world’s largest and most global hotel company, is one of the best initiatives in the context of new age loyalty programs in the hospitality industry. IHG has recently added a new feature to its customer loyalty program: Priority Club Rewards.Starwood Preferred Guest is another of the best loyalty programs in the Industry. The program made headlines when it launched in 1999 with a breakthrough policy of no blackout dates and no capacity controls, meaning members can redeem free nights anytime, anywhere.Park Hospitality, part of Minneapolis-based Carlson Hospitality Worldwide, consists of Park Plaza and Park Inn hotels in North America. The hospitality group primarily offers services to a range of guests in suburban and leisure destinations. Park Rewards, part of the Gold Points Rewards guest loyalty program, is based on a point system awarding 10 points for each U.S. dollar spent on accommodations at Park Plaza and Park Inn hotels in North America.Radisson Hotels and Resorts’ channel-based Relationship Building Loyalty Program, called ‘Look To Book’, has been very successful as well. Radisson is the only hotel company to offer a patented on-line loyalty program for travel agents, which allows them to automatically earn points towards valuable merchandise and incentive awards in return for booking Radisson hotels.Hyatt offers a global loyalty program – Hyatt Gold Passport. Hyatt Gold passport offers features like earning points towards free nights with no blackout dates, selecting in-hotel services and special offers, beginning with the very first stay. The benefits offered are based on the type of membership the guest holds. The three memberships offered by Hyatt Gold Passport are Gold, Platinum and Silver, based on the frequency/ number of visits.Hospitality industry in developing economies such as in India are not left behind either The Welcom Award program recognises the needs of a business traveller and through its strategic alliances with travel partners, endeavors to build rewarding relationships.SECTION THREE: COMMON PROBLEMS WITH LOYALTY PROGRAMS, AND THEIR MITIGATION BEST-PRACTICESWhile the consumer awareness of loyalty programs as well as the business priority accorded to them are both growing in tandem, the effectiveness of such programs, and the consequent ROI that a business generates out of them continue to be significant challenges. Here below are a few key areas that deserve focused attention of enterprises that are implementing or running such programs:”7 out of 10 loyalty card owners own more than one loyalty card,” avers a recent Frost & Sullivan research. The problem out of this rampant loyalty card and loyalty program proliferation, researchers say, is that surprisingly few consumers know which hotels are covered by their frequent-stay cards, thereby missing out on earning hundreds, even thousands, of points. Blame it on poor communication by the companies or the sheer numbers of brands, say the experts.Traditionally, customer relationship management focus in hospitality has always began and ended in one phrase: “customer satisfaction.” The presumption is very simple: Customers will appreciate good service so much that they would not go to your competitor. In other words: Customer satisfaction plus quality of services equals customer loyalty.The truth is that customer satisfaction does not always equal customer loyalty.Research shows:
• 40% of satisfied customers switch hotels without hesitation (Forum Corp.)
• 65% to 85% of customers who choose a new hotel claim to be satisfied and very satisfied with the
former one (Harvard Business Review)
• 85% of customers claim to be satisfied, yet willing to switch to other hotels (University of Texas).These are compelling numbers, clearly indicating that even for the best-of-class service provider hotels there is a crying need for focused and ongoing relationship building and relationship deepening exercises with their key clientele.Electronic customer relationship management (e-CRM), in the context of the exploding Internet distribution and marketing in hospitality, is a business strategy supported by Web technologies allowing hoteliers to engage customers in strong, personalized and mutually beneficial interactive relationships, increase conversions and sell more efficiently.This means that almost every time an Internet user lands on a hotel Web site a branding interaction occurs, thereby creating either an opportunity, or a threat, for the hotel. This branding interaction can be positive (brandbuilding) or negative (brand-eroding).A. Customer KnowledgeKnowing your Web site visitors is an extremely important consideration when conceptualizing and designing your hotel Web site and your e-CRM strategy.The 2004 RUSH Report shows:• 56% of all visitors on hotel branded Web sites are leisure travelers and 32% are business travelers. Approximately 3% of hotel Web site visitors are involved in meeting or event planning.
• 34% of all visitors on hotel branded Web sites seek information about the hotel, while 30% of the visitors come to make or change a reservation.
• Business travelers look for directions and high speed Internet.
• Meeting planners look for function room floor plans and capacity charts.The benefits:
• Identifies your most valuable customers with best lifetime value perspective (20:80 principle)
• Allows guest-centric data mining: Guest history, guest profiles, past bookings, preferences, etc.
• Enables informed decisions in real time
• Allows fast response times
• Offers real-time guest lifetime value
• Delivers business insight to executives, marketers, salesB. Personalization
Personalizing the customer experience on the hotel Web site is a powerful conversion and retention tool. Customizing your interaction with your most valuable customers (those 20% who generate 80% of your business) will provide significant long-term rewards.
Personalization at the property level should start by:
• Identifying all “electronic touch points” with your customers (hotel guests, meeting planners, travel professionals, etc.) and creating an action plan.
• Personalize all electronic communications with your customers. Adopt a policy on how to address your guests via e-mail (first name only, Mr./Mrs. plus last name, etc.).C. Customer SupportIt is important to understand that customer service is only one aspect of e-CRM and is primarily a reactive function aiming to improve performance and efficiency, while e-CRM as a whole is a proactive long-term strategy.Customer support in the Internet age relies on a wide range of tools and techniques. Here are some to consider:
• Web Self-Service Tools: Intelligent service channel management and natural language search engines; directing customer requests to most appropriate support information and services; FAQs; “Ask the experts” self-service chat rooms; interactive maps, directions and business locators.
• Live Service Tools: Push-to-talk functionality and real-time interaction with live agent; instant messaging and chat-room type assistance; Voice-over-Internet Protocols applications; and automation to pre-screen live support (selective approach).
• E-Mail Service Tools: Inbound e-mail management; and automated e-mail response systems capable of automating 80%-90% of e-mail volume with 98% accuracy, dramatically improving service and reducing support staff by up to 40%.

Who Can’t Get a Payday Loan?

Though payday loans are generally considered the easiest way to get a loan and the fastest for that matter, not all people who apply for a payday loan gets approved. The following are some of the basic reasons that people get denied when applying for these types of loans:Most of the people who get disapproved when applying are those that don’t meet or earn the minimum income required, or ones that don’t have a regular job. Even the most considerate and flexible payday lenders can’t afford to loan money to someone who grosses less than the minimum wage.Getting a payday loan is more difficult to get for someone who’s self employed. Most lenders don’t usually accept self employed applicants for security purposes. Lenders who do usually require bank statements of previous months to verify stability of income.Most payday lenders universally require applicants to have a bank account. Payday loans typically are due to be repaid on or the next payday. And usually, money will be deducted from your bank account as agreed. Having no bank account makes it harder for lenders to accept payment though.As suggested with the term “payday loan”, you must have an income or payday to qualify. Even a healthy savings account will not get you approved if you have no income. But come to think of it, why would you get a loan if you have a good amount of savings right?What’s always a red flag for payday lenders is having an outstanding loan with other lenders. Someone with several outstanding loans is viewed as a serious risk for returned checks and defaults. Most lenders use verification services to identify applicants having multiple outstanding cash advances, and to confirm the banking information provided. If you ever have a bad record with previous payday lenders, this information will decrease your chances of getting your loans approved.Bankruptcy (especially in the last year or two) will also make it more difficult for an applicant to get a payday loan. Though the provided information given to the lender is not a credit report, a recent bankruptcy will be revealed. Until you fix your name along with the bankruptcy reflected on your record, you will be considered financially unstable and thus ineligible to get a payday loan from lenders.In order to qualify for a payday loan, you must be employed for a certain period of time with your current employer, usually for at least three months. Though this requirement is not universal, many lenders will not approve loan applications for newly hired employees. You – as an applicant – must provide information to showing that your employment status is somewhat stable, and new employees are often are still under a probationary period where termination would still be a great possibility.If you happen to fall into one of the above categories with payday lenders, don’t be dismayed. Not all lenders look closely into these factors when it comes to their approval process. Most full-time employees will qualify for a loan; however, If you find yourself always needing a payday loan, then it might be best to check on your situation. If you have a debt that’s going out of control. Having such loans may push you to a financial disaster, and consequently, they should only be used rarely and carefully.

Landscape Design Ideas For Gardens, Roof Gardens and Terraces For City and Country Homes

All too often the garden becomes almost an after thought and the last priority in a restricted home improvement budget. For me this is a travesty, as the garden is probably the largest room of the house and deserves the same thought and design afforded to the kitchen, living room or bathrooms. It is very often the feature which can make the difference between selling a home or not.Even small London or city gardens, where space is a premium, can be transformed into a haven of architectural foliage and fabulous areas for summer dining and entertaining, adding not only value to the home, but a new dimension to living space. Remember, the garden should not be considered as a separate entity, but more as an extension of the living room. In our short summers it should be a magnet drawing family and friends to it at every available opportunity, and in winter the view should be one which serves to remind that spring is not too far away.The design and planning of a garden is the starting point. The chosen style and design should reflect the home and not be at odds with it. One needs to begin by addressing any unsightly features. Even an ugly view can be softened with careful thought to planting. Equally, privacy should be protected without the prying eyes of neighbours overlooking. Once again this can usually be achieved with strategic planting. Common garden fences can be camouflaged, as can sheds, which may serve as essential storage, but lend absolutely nothing to the overall design.The next priority is the patio, the size of which should at the very least, accommodate the occupants of the household, and if space allows, provide for entertaining. Tables and chairs should fit comfortably with plenty of room to walk around, and the golden rule of never blocking the entrance from the house into the garden always adhered to. Ideally, patio depths should be a minimum of 4 metres. Quite simply, skimpy patios look awful.The hard landscaping of the garden and the choice of materials is paramount and whilst budget may ultimately dictate the finishes, always try to aim for the best you can afford. For example, cheap pine decking looks like a budget finish from the day it is installed, let alone after a year or two, when it will become a slippery algae covered liability unless regularly maintained. A good quality hardwood deck, on the other hand, will look beautiful for many years to come with very little maintenance and in the grand scheme of things, the extra cost is money well spent. In a contemporary or minimalist garden where the emphasis really focuses on the hard landscaping, the quality of the materials becomes even more relevant.For those who live in an apartment or are denied a garden, remember that flat roofs or terraces can equally be transformed into very inviting and useful outdoor spaces, although a roof garden maybe subject to planning. Many plants and even trees are quite happy to spend their lives in containers providing they are kept watered and the nutrients in the soil replaced. With the benefit of computerised irrigation and slow release fertilisers this is very easy.Now we come to the design itself. For those seeking something a little different from their garden, many would be surprised to learn that even in our less than perfect English climate, it is possible to create a tropical looking garden utilising a host of exotic plants from around the world which will not only survive, but literally flourish even enduring snow, ice and the harshest of winters.Just imagine a sub-tropical paradise of palm trees, bamboo, big leaf architectural plants such as banana and all here in the UK. This works particularly well in small London and inner city gardens creating an instant impact with dense tropical foliage, creating a real urban jungle. Even though one can be more adventurous in the city where the micro climate allows for more tender plants, it is possible to create an exotic garden in all but the coldest parts of the UK.Tropical gardens play with different textures of foliage and colour is used in splashes of hot vibrant reds, oranges and yellows provided by exotic flowers such as cannas and gingers. Natural materials such as hardwood decking and terracotta work particularly well with this design theme as do ponds and water features. Creating an exotic garden full of drama is an exciting and different approach to your garden design, and with evergreen trees and shrubs interest is created throughout the seasons.For larger gardens one can also create a more structured and manicured look imitating some of the great gardens of the Mediterranean. Stately palms and other spiky plants work well together in the company of cypress trees and other trees and shrubs normally associated with the warm dry regions of the world. In spring and summer the garden should become a riot of colour led by trees like acacia dealbata, which literally lights up the sky with gorgeous mimosa flowers.For those who prefer a more minimalist approach to their garden design, contemporary garden design shifts the emphasis from planting to the hard landscaping. Unsightly fences can be disguised by camouflaging them with slatted Venetian cedar. The contemporary garden design has bold lines, strong shapes, and absence of any fuss, pure form, strong structure and 21st century techno. The garden should lend itself to entertaining and low maintenance, although whilst planting is minimal, it is architectural and should make a strong statement. Finally, mood lighting is an essential ingredient, not only within the contemporary garden, but for any style of garden, making the largest room of the home a room for living by day as well as by night.