Immediate Reward

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Peermont Hotels has its eye on the corporate market, and it is going after it aggressively, with its Crown Key Hotel Rewards Programme the latest initiative being used to pull in the regular business traveller. Chief Marketing & Customer Officer Mark Jakins explains the thinking behind the programme and what the group hopes to achieve with it.

Q: What was the thinking behind the launch of Crown Key?

A: Peermont now has 16 hotel properties in 12 locations in South Africa and Botswana, and these hotels operate in competitive environments. Many of these competitors have guest loyalty programmes. We felt we needed a programme to compete for the loyalty of the ‘Monday to Friday’ market segment – mainly corporate business and government officials who travel frequently. We started with a competitive survey of local and international hotel loyalty programmes, and from that research developed benefits that would have specific resonance with business travellers.  More and more, loyalty programmes are a way of life in business in Africa – and contribute to meaningful company results.

Q: What differentiates it from other hotel loyalty programmes?

A: First of all, it is free to join. Secondly, it is not tiered – we wanted to give members immediate benefits that would enhance the quality of their business experience at a Peermont hotel. The programme offers benefits across all star grades. We have no black-out dates on redemptions and members can ‘double dip’ and earn points on redemption stays as well. We also allow members to earn points on selected incidentals, such as room service and laundry. We also wanted to give members access to a wider selection of lifestyle benefits, and so they can visit the Peermont Lifestyle Rewards Centre – peermontrewards.com – and shop online for all sorts of deals in travel, electronics and home products and services. Finally, the programme has been developed by inputting the needs of customers and operations staff, as well as marketing.

Q: What are the benefits for the business traveller?

A: Members stay for 10 nights and earn enough points to get the 11th night free, in addition to the exceptional benefits. All Crown Key members have complimentary Internet access at Peermont hotels, with the quantum of access dependant on star grading – from three hours to unlimited. Upgrades on rooms are available and there is a welcome beverage at check-in. Members also have a special expedited check-in process to save them time. Depending on the star grading, members get a newspaper and bottled water daily and a complimentary item of laundry per stay. In addition, we have tried to add value “when work is done for the day”, by offering complimentary movie and show tickets wherever we can.  

Q: How important is complimentary Internet access to the modern day business traveller?

A: Very important, especially for business and government travellers. Our guests are staying over on business and need to stay in touch.

Q: In your opinion, do African business travellers generally make good use of existing hotel loyalty programmes?

A: Yes. It is a mature business travel market and individuals are street-wise, with many tending to join and engage with multiple programmes, particularly with airlines, car rental and hotel groups.

Q: What difference do you think a loyalty programme can make to a hotel group?

A: The most obvious business benefit is repeat stays, as the programme allows us to pay attention to our best customers and reward them for their loyalty. We are also expecting to see new guests at our hotels who previously used competitor hotels, now attracted by the combination of competitive corporate and government rates, a better business experience and loyalty rewards in our locations.

Q: Can you give any examples of international hotel loyalty programmes that have proved successful?

A: Most of the large international groups – for example, Hilton, Marriott, Starwood etc.

Q: Did you model Crown Key on any of these programmes?

A: We benchmarked attractive benefit categories and the easiest way for the business traveller to engage with a programme. We looked for minimum fuss, tried to avoid too much bureaucracy and red tape, and we wanted transparency and ease of understanding. Many of the international programmes have high requirements for upgrades to status tiers and the complicated point exchange options with airline partners, which we avoided. Where many of the international programmes offer experiential benefits (such as room upgrades, amenities and special services) only after 15, 25 or 50 nights, we wanted a programme that would deliver immediate access. 

Q: What type of person are you targeting?

A: Frequent corporate, business and government travellers who use rack, BAR, government and corporate rates.

Q: What is the future of hotel loyalty programmes?

A: We see a future in individualised rewards and customised in room experiences, complete self-service online, and smart partnerships and integrations with the loyalty programmes of related industries. It’s about lifestyle benefits for individuals.