Creating more than points earners in a loyalty program and making them sales people for a hotel brand is discussed in this article in a trade publication.
According to the article, "There’s a clear difference between these two levels of customer engagement, according to Rob Fuggetta, founder and CEO of marketing company Zuberance. Guests enrolled in your loyalty program probably like your offerings, but they also might just be members as a matter of convenience or in an attempt to rack up points.
Brand advocates...will go out of their way to recommend you...."
Worth a look and comment from other insiders
This is an issue worth discussing. I am definitely brand loyal, yet at the same time have to face the fact that most places to which I travel often do not have Marriotts. So when I can stay at a Marriott and get points, it is the best of all possible worlds; at the same time I feel a frustration that Marriott is not particularly well represented where I stay most (EUrope outside of the UK). Apparently 4 AC hotels in Spain will be added and one or two new hotels in France, but this is not enough for the European business traveler.
I'll be travelling to Spain in late April and flying through Madrid. I'm spending 4 days in Cordoba (no Marriott or affiliate) and 1 last day at a Holiday Inn Express in MAD because there are no Marriotts there.
It is a constant frustration for me because I would always make the highest elite levels if there were Marriotts where I need to stay. Unfortunately there are not.
I read the article, pondered the question of loyalty, and came up with the following:
I am fiercely loyal to Marriott as long as there is a property in the immediate area of where I need it to be.
The primary reason for my loyalty is the Points, And I would prefer to keep all my hotel earnings at a single company.
I rarely find a property so pleasing that I would recommend it to others.
I find most hotel chains generic and signage on the building is the biggest difference between companies.
So, I guess my love for Marriott is skin deep......... I love the points.
I read the article. I find absolutely no connection that relates large portions of the article to reality. I think the author missed it with this article.
Shoeman has it right....and the author should know....it's the points stupid. The other scenarios brought up by contributors in the article just don't relate to reality as it is. Brand loyalty....advocacy....? To wit:
Identify: are you kidding me? This 'scale' system is absolutely incorrect when it comes to being an advocate of the brand and 'creating' that advocacy beyond loyalty. An 'advocate' in the scenario given is most likely to be a person who stays at a particular brand on an infrequent basis. They had a good experience at one of the brand's units and thought the place they stayed was the 'second coming of sliced bread'. Now they're an advocate for the brand....and they talk about their experience at that one place and relate it to the brand. Those of us who have 'skin' (spelled: points) in the game are going to recommend Marriott all the time. But, that being said, I'm certainly not scaling a 9 or 10 to EVERY Marriott property I stay at....so that immediately invalidates the advocate plan as stated. There are some Marriott 'stays' that rightfully deserve a 2 or 3...and I would give that to them....but I'm still recommending the brand. Why? The existence of the 1.4 million points I have MAKES me an advocate. I want the service; I expect the service, but I don't always get it! To Shoeman's mantra: It's the points!
Mobilize: This item is misplaced. You MUST have item 3 (Tracking) to identify the advocates before you can mobilize them. Although I will also say that the items (metrics) they want to track are not genuine identifiers to advocacy.
From an operational standpoint as lastly listed in this article, we have enough postings on the Insiders pages to dramatically underscore that operational efficiencies are clearly lacking with certain 'stays', enough so that loyalty and/or advocacy are a 'hit or miss' based on the operational standard one encounters....so the author is offering a pipe dream. It doesn't happen as they say it does. No brand's operations are consistent at every locale.
I could go on, but bottom line: I think this article was poorly thought out, far reaching and a big stretch from reality and once again: It's the points that make us loyal. Shoeman has it right.
Now, if the author had expanded his writing to draw the line of reward members...to loyalty...to advocacy...and combined that with the infrequent 'advocates' who espouse loyalty, that would be a different story.
Re. the recent inputs from ProfChiara and others, I agree that the notion of brand loyalty (BL) is interesting, and in an increasingly competitive world it is certainly topical. But I feel that in certain key respects the issues are not as clear cut as one might imagine, and one reason for this is that the term BL is itself a confusing and sometimes oversimplified one. Take, for example, the "Marriott" brand: first, it would seem that there are clearly several "labels" and "levels" within it - from Ritz down - which serve to differentiate rather than unify the overall product identity; secondly, there is a often a clear difference between the Marriott International product and that of a franchise operation, which is likely to be reflected in very different levels of loyalty. (Perhaps this is something that we in Europe are more familiar with - I don't know). In using the BL concept, two supplementary, but important, questions thus become: "loyalty to what, or even to whom?; and "what today is the underlying USP that serves to unify the overall brand image". As a footnote, I'd totally agree with the Prof's observation re the scarcity of Marriott's in Spain - even in the major cities. It would seem that there has been a failure to recognise firstly the size of the business market there, and secondly that business travellers very often will not want to go anywhere near a vacation resort.
I agree completely, Arkwright. I am constantly frustrated at the lack of Marriotts in Europe (aside from the UK) except in the major cities (and sometimes not even then).
Even in the US your point is well taken. With no offense to Fairfield Inns and their various owners, it's a franchise and is often dependent on the goodwill (or not) of that franchise owner. I have had very good and very bad experiences at them as well as at some Courtyards (including in Europe).
I really would like to see Marriott expand their offerings on the 'regular' Marriott label (i.e. not so much Ritz and definitely not Fairfield) throughout the Continent.
Right on just the points. As someone who stays over 300 nights a year on the road it is just the points. As someone who is and has been a Platinum Preimer level member for years knows first hand there are good sites and great management in some hotels and others that are not. Marriott puffs themselves up like they are the best but they are not. Frankly last year I kept my top levels in Hilton, Holiday Inn, and Marriott. The best place with the best management and hotel was a Staybridge Suites in Kalamazoo Michigan. Problem is only 1/2 points. So with me just show me the points and try to deliver just half what you promise Marriott and you will improve your recent performance with me. Don't improve your performance Marriott and I will be the guy who can give your front desk people the ration of **** you so richly deserve!
Yes: with rage at that level, an acute cardiac condition could come into play. But more seriously, NU, could you unbundle your comment re Marriott ownership a little. The underlying business model fascinates me. I recognize the distinction between ownership of physical asset and of the operational business, but always thought that (a) there was only one type of franchise operation and (b) that they were in the minority - exactly by what proportion depending on where in the world you were. From your observation, it would seem that I have been labouring under a considerable misconception.
Arkwright -- Here's what I picked up from the Marriott Fact Sheet for Investors.
There is an excel spreadsheet that lays out the numbers, but I don't know how to attach it.
Out of 3420 properties, 8 are company owned.
My personal Marriott-stay experience is within CONUS and Hawaii, so I live in a small world, which is my preference. I stay about 100 nights a year, and "I think" all of the FFI, CY, and Marriotts that I normally stay at are all franchise owned. All of my overseas travel for 24 years of my life was military related and those accomodations were definitely not up to Marriott standards.
I am very loyal to the Marriott Brand. With only rare exception, I've stayed no place else for the past 10+ years. I think the franchises are, for the most part, managed very well. Only two exceptions I can think of...former FFI's in Clive, Iowa and Winter Park, FL. Both are long since closed and are now something else.