Earned versus coercive loyalty
Starbucks gifts cards keep on giving (to Starbucks)

Informal loyalty works at Four Seasons

A loyalty program can help obtain valuable information about your customers, but it's certainly not the only way. At Four Seasons, they have decided a rewards-oriented system is at odds with their culture, and since they pride themselves on recognizing their customers and remembering their preferences, I doubt they have suffered from the decision. If you plan to go forward without a loyalty program, you still have to educate your staff and provide an information system that helps them keep track of customer preferences. 

Skift: Why not having a formal travel loyalty program works--for some, 2017-Jul-10 by Deanna Ting

In the case of Four Seasons, Leff said that the lack of a formal rewards program doesn’t mean there’s no comprehensive customer relationship management strategy in place.

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts President and CEO J. Allen Smith told Skift last year, when asked about the company’s loyalty strategy: “… Loyalty programs are defined by ‘I accumulate points and then I get something of value for that that I can redeem.’ Truthfully, that’s not what our customers are looking for. Our customer is looking for recognition: ‘Know who I am, and provide personalized services to me.'”

He added: “For our best customers, we know who they are and in many cases, we have, in effect, affiliated them with someone within Four Seasons that will facilitate their reservations in other properties, movement around the world, whatever the case may be. As they go from property to property, people will know who they are.”

The catch, however, is that if a company chooses not to have a formal loyalty program, it can be more challenging to collect customer data needed to personalize that guest or passenger experience. And having a formal loyalty program is not only low-cost but also often more effective in terms of gathering that data.

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