While I can’t say it’s a hotel chain I frequent, Red Lion is doing something with their loyalty program which definitely counters the industry trend. As is the case with most loyalty programs, their R&R Club would allow members to earn points which they could redeem towards free stays.
Red Lion will be eliminating points earnings
The description of the program and how they spin it is so interesting that I’ll copy it in its entirely below:
We are pleased to announce an exciting evolution of the Red Lion R&R Club loyalty program. Based on member feedback and extensive insights from leading customer loyalty programs, we are transitioning the Red Lion R&R Club to a new dynamic customer recognition program.
The problem with many point-based loyalty programs is that they generally require members to earn their status and tier level before receiving earned benefits. Fundamentally, we believe a more hospitable approach is in order. We believe it is up to us to earn the loyalty of our guests. And we very much intend to earn your business throughout every stay. Having listened to our most frequent guests and their desire to be recognized as an individual who stays with us on a regular basis, we set out to create a program that makes our guests stand apart from the crowd and treats everyone as an individual.
The future Red Lion loyalty program is not your typical points-based membership with status and tiers. It is about recognizing and rewarding our members for doing things they already love to do. The future Red Lion loyalty program frees you from tracking your points while continuing to extend our most widely used member benefit, 15% off our best available rate through Lowest Rate Period, formerly known as Member Advantage. We are building a program that responds to your insights and communicates with immediate gratification. Several principals guide the future membership program. We want you to feel recognized with tailored experiences that fuel your passions while providing surprise and delight experiences. So, look for more information as we transition R&R Club to the future Red Lion loyalty program.
With the evolution to a new membership program, comes the expiration of the Red Lion R&R Club program. The last date for which we will issue miles or points for overnight stays will be May 31, 2014. Red Lion R&R Club members with a minimum of 10,000 points have six months to utilize their existing point balance. Any redemptions for overnight stays must be reserved and used by November 30, 2014. Additionally, Red Lion R&R Club members can redeem points between now and November 30, 2014, for benefits with four airline partners or for gift cards with Costco, GC Incentives or Macy’s. More details are available online at redlion.com/redlionrandrclub/
As we work to transition in the next few months to our future loyalty program, those Red Lion R&R Club members who have earned tier status can be assured that we will continue to acknowledge you with the same benefits and upgrades specified by the R&R Club. We appreciate your business and look forward to rolling out the details of our future Red Lion loyalty program.
With kind regards,
Red Lion Hotels Corporation
First of all, lets recap the facts:
- You can’t earn points in their program anymore since May 31, 2014
- You have until November 30, 2014 to redeem the points you’ve earned
The amount of fluff is impressive!
My gosh, could they use any more fluff to spin this as an improvement? I realize I’m basically just copying the entire description above in bullets below, but:
- We are pleased to announce an exciting evolution
- A new dynamic customer recognition program
- We believe a more hospitable approach is in order
- We believe it is up to us to earn the loyalty of our guests
- We very much intend to earn your business throughout every stay
- We set out to create a program that makes our guests stand apart from the crowd and treats everyone as an individual
- It is about recognizing and rewarding our members for doing things they already love to do
- We are building a program that responds to your insights and communicates with immediate gratification
- We want you to feel recognized with tailored experiences that fuel your passions while providing surprise and delight experiences
Woohoo, it’s exciting, dynamic, hospitable, will “make guests stand apart from the crowd,” treat everyone as an individual, responds to insights and communications, etc.
So, uh, any info on what benefits the new program will have other than the 15% discount which they’re simply renaming?
I can’t help but feel like this was written by the guy in “Thank You For Smoking:”
Why eliminating points could make sense for Red Lion
As I said above, eliminating points earnings in a loyalty program really counters the trend, as we see more and more companies offer rewards program, and especially as we see them enter into more partnerships which offer more ancillary revenue opportunities.
But the reason this potentially sort of makes sense for Red Lion is that they’re going after a different customer base. Their properties are mostly in the Pacific Northwest, and largely in markets without many options. So it could very well be that their program isn’t actually generating much marginal value for their business. They do seem to have somewhat of a loyal following in the Pacific Northwest, so maybe they’re onto something.
InterContinental used to have a similar program
While not quite as extreme, InterContinental’s Ambassador program used to be similar. While it was part of the overall Priority Club/IHG Rewards Club loyalty program, points were issued differently for InterContinental stays. You would just earn 2,000 points per stay, 3,000 points per stay if you were an Ambassador member, or 4,000 points per stay if you were a Royal Ambassador member.
Meanwhile you earned 10 points per dollar spent if you stayed at a Holiday Inn. So why would InterContinental issue the same number of points for a one night $100 stay at an airport InterContinental as they would for a month long $100,000 stay in a suite at the InterContinental Amstel? Apparently they thought their guests valued recognition more than points. But in the meantime they’ve changed that and started issuing points based on amount spent as well
So while Red Lion is a bit more extreme, they’re not the first program to take this general approach.
Bottom line on Red Lion’s changes
While it doesn’t impact me personally, I am curious to see what they do with their new program. From the looks of it, not much other than some fluffy PR words. I’m surprised they didn’t manage to squeeze the word “synergies” into there somehow, just to keep the investors happy.
(Tip of the hat to Wandering Aramean)