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How Marriott and Hilton are innovating loyalty

Just as customer experience allows us to move beyond price competition to capture customers, loyalty innovations are growing our mind share. 

Hospitality Net: Hospitality, Meet the Digital Age, 2017-May by Marc Berman

Hospitality loyalty doesn't have to limit itself purely to the transaction step of the travel plan. A traveler's planning journey is much bigger than that. According to an Expedia Media Solutions survey, more that 60 percent of American digital users consume travel content. Collectively, they're spending 1.5 trillion minutes each month doing so. That makes for a lot of browsing, researching and planning.

Loyalty programs are beginning to catch onto this and are adding content into their offerings. Marriott's new loyalty app, launched in February, can deliver curated, original content from Marriott's digital magazine, Traveler, based on users' previous hotel searches or upcoming travels. This content helps the brand become present at other stages of the travel planning process, instead of just settling for the purchase touchpoint. Not to mention, it's sure to help the wanderlust kick in for those who are more likely to travel on a whim, or the business traveler plan a last-minute trip.... 

Solo travel may be on the rise, but traveling is still most often done in a group. In 2015, 76 percent of those who travelled did so in a group. Digital elements to the hotel-booking experience can ease the tension here, especially when it comes to payment.

The new Hilton Honors loyalty program allows users to pool their points with up to 10 friends or family members, giving it a leg up on Airbnb where users have to settle for only one payment method rather than splitting it across a group. The program also allows users to put a certain amount of points towards a stay rather than forcing them to pay for the stay entirely in one currency, a great feature for groups who don't have everyone participating in the program. Loyalty marketers sometimes neglect that group, though with easy payment options like this, brands can drive new membership. 

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