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Why Loyalty? – Marriott Rewards

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Why Loyalty? – Marriott Rewards
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The final stop on our tour to answer the question “Why Loyalty” was an experienced loyalty player and global hotelier, Marriott. Prompting the discussion of Marriott Rewards in this series was the arrival of the rewards catalog in our mailbox.

Having had a discussion just today with a client who reluctantly noted that we must include some form of white mail in a new loyalty campaign, the subject of paper catalogs and the value they deliver to a loyalty program were top of mind.

If you are a member of Marriott Rewards, you are familiar with their rewards catalog, produced on an annual basis as far as we can tell. Each edition is well designed and beautifully complemented with merchandise rewards from large to small. It is also weighty and its depth of offers create a somewhat nostalgic impact on the recipient in this digital age.

We believe that there continues to be a place “on the kitchen table” for rewards communications. Not everyone conducts their lives on Facebook as we are led to believe, and there is purpose in engaging program Members and their circle of influence (or at least contact) with the loyalty version of a coffee table book. The Marriott catalog deserves to float around the home or office for an extended period of time and in the process, might even become responsible for a choice of Marriott over a competitor for a future hotel stay.

The challenge with this medium is the value of the rewards themselves inside the catalog. Many consumers are quite familiar with how to calculate “Loyalty Math” and can therefore decipher the cost of catalog merchandise in points.

If you refer to the first post in this Why Loyalty series, you’ll see reference to the 2 key moments of truth for a retail loyalty program. Deciphering the equivalent cost in point value for catalog merchandise is the second of these two key junctures along the customer journey with a loyalty program.

Sad to say, I found that most items I checked in the Marriott catalog returned a disappointing value. This is not necessarily the fault of the Marriott loyalty marketing gurus, but is indicative of the state of change in loyalty across the entire industry.

Airlines are experiencing similar challenges. Frequent flyers tempted to redeem their hard earned airmiles often apply the airbrakes when they realize that a discounted airfare is available for the same route.  When that happens, the logical decision for many travelers is to save those airmiles for another day, or until some other circumstance presents itself to make cashing in miles the “right” decision.

Loyalty Truth: The substance of reward offers needs to be challenged daily. The door is open as never before to delight consumers with experiences, in-store events, and status-oriented privileges that register well but cost little. The days of centering value propositions on gift cards and merchandise may be nearing an end.

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