Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish
Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

This article isn’t about the message that Steve Jobs launched to the world, particularly to Stanford students at their graduate ceremony. (Watch it again)
But it has part of its message and has certain inspiration because those points may make sense now if you have to choose your way to react to these uncertain times.

How to built your Loyalty Program from the ground up and get results

Loyalty Programs are as old as the reflex to smile when a customer is at your door. It is a very simple concept: keep your customers happy and provide them the best service possible, and they will always come back.

There are thousands of loyalty program models, and most of them work well, more or less. It always depends on who applies them and how they are implemented.

If you are a Property Manager and want to have your own loyalty program, here are the specific needs you must address if you want to be successful.  

  • Have a website where you can accept online bookings, as well as discounts/coupon codes. When guests log in, they need to be able to use their own coupon code and get an immediate discount for it. Immediate is important because customers don´t like to ask for a discount. If they feel they deserve it, they want it instantly.
  • Have a contract with rules and conditions. Be clear and simple, Keep yourself calm, no more than 5 to 10 conditions. The simpler, the better. No one wants to read a 100-page loyalty program.
  • Always have at least 3 levels of loyalty, basic, advanced, and premium, or something to that effect. You can use the classic model of Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Customers always want to reach the highest level, and for this to happen, they need to prove their loyalty and spend more money at your company.
  •  Loyalty means benefits, so please don’t forget to provide more advantages for your loyalty members. Being a loyal customer may mean receiving special treatment, especially regarding cancellation conditions or privileges, like having water and snacks waiting for them upon arrival.
  • Promotions and valuable services. You can sell your product by number of days, but also by season. You can also sell the product with flexible conditions, for example, the loyalty member can transfer some of their days to a friend or relative. The Loyalty program should be based on a customer id, but they should be allowed to share their benefits with anyone they want. This point is very important, as the way were before, they may now change from personal bookings to open and flexible bookings.
  • Come back and pay less or receive additional discounts on your future bookings, recommending you may also include additional benefits.

You can make it more complex or simple, use points or not, It is all about the idea you want to develop.

Last week, I had a call from a customer and personal friend. This is a hard-working and friendly couple that built their dream by working hard to run their business. I was privileged to be invited 12 years ago to the opening of their Rural Hostel in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

It was named as one of the 10 best rural retreats in Spain by the Guardian (a British newspaper), and it really is incredible. La posada del Candil in Serón (Almeria)

They were disappointed and fearful about their future. All these years of hard work and dedication just to go bankrupt because of a Virus?

We talked about options and how to bring in some business since there are no customers right now. Several ideas came up, but the one we all agreed would be an effective strategy is to create a loyalty program. Invite customers to join for free, and then start selling packages at a very intriguing price. For example, a 30-day package for 3.000 €, but the travel dates would be flexible with a minimum stay of 3 nights, so the customer can use those 30 days any time during the year.

They could even use those days as a gift for friends or relatives, which would be a fantastic experience for them. The only thing they have to do is respect booking rules and follow the package conditions.

As we continued to speak, one thing led to another and little by little all of the potential benefits for being a loyal customer came up. One thing that we discussed was guests enjoying a special 15% discount on bookings just for being members. Another idea is if a member refers a friend to join the club, they each get one free special breakfast on each booking at their properties. Offering discounts on tours and activities to loyal members of the club is another option.

Part of coming up with the strategy is calculating how much money is needed in order to keep the business operating for at least one year from now, and how many clients they need to buy this loyalty package.

The magic number for this friend of mine was around 50 loyalty clients, so it was pretty simple to put this idea down clearly in black and white and then put it into motion. They started by sending promotional emails to existing customers, inviting them to participate in this fantastic opportunity among work colleagues, relatives, and groups of friends.

The idea for writing this article is to share these tips and options with as many PM´s as possible so that they may keep their dreams and hard work alive. Also to let the market know that any good idea needs to be implemented because this is a time for loyalty and special dedicated services to the customers.

If you have a singular project or idea that has been working for years, and most of your customers loved their stay with you, they may want to help support you. If you do nothing, you will get nothing back. Asking people for help and commitment usually has good results, especially if you have been loyal and friendly in the past.

Maybe a loyal program was not in your plans, and perhaps it is not even the right time for you, but if you want to survive the actual circumstances, you need to be creative and believe in your possibilities. Come up with options and ideas and try to test them as soon as possible.

Coming back to my friend, I do really believe this year will be the year of mountain and rural travel. Nature, open spaces, and freedom is exactly what people are missing right now.

José Vázquez

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