I suppose it gets to the way in which participants in a hotel loyalty program view that program--the more who answered "very important" as the most likely to be very loyal. I should note that the programs vary in membership size and I am not sure they controlled for that variable. Also, we have no way of knowing which particpants were at the highest elite level.
Here's my take on the polling - the LOWER the score the LESS IMPORTANT points/nights accrual had in determining the hotel brand. In other words, Marriott scores lower than Hilton and Starwood because of overall satisfaction with the brand rather than the ability to earn more points/nights. From a Marriott perspective, this is good - quality of service and guest expectations being met are winning more hearts than the competition who rely on their loyalty programs to influence picks.
Agreed on the way it was worded, "How important was this loyalty program in your decision to stay at <Brand>?" In other words, the lower the score, the less important was the loyalty program in making the decision to stay at <Brand>. Thus, my take is that Marriott does not need as much importance on the MR program to influence guests to choose their <Marriott>. I did not intend to imply that the loyalty programs are taken for granted (huge influence) but all things being equal (and for the most part loyalty programs are "equal enough" for the survey IMO), then it must be guest expectations that influence the decision more than the loyalty programs do. Or, am I really trying to do a play on words?
But, the percentages are wthin the margin of error so it seems to be a moot point. If we're looking for statistical singifgance we are going to need more data. The accompanying article, which I did not include, seems to butress my contention that the higher the number the more valuable a membership in a program is.
SS - I found the article which I believe still supports my take on your post. "This measure identifies the percentage of guests who say that their loyalty program membership was a primary reason for choosing that hotel." This was preceeded by, "Loyalty programs now rank fourth among reasons why consumers select a hotel (the top three reasons are “Location”, “Price”, and “Past Experience”)." Past experience is EXACTLY what I implied in my responses - that Marriott is happier knowing past experience plays a greater role in selection of property than does the loyalty program.
Absolutely location has to be #1. Can't forget price, either. But the more I think about it, I am swayed to see it your way, SS. Since the "fourth most important reason" are loyalty programs, a Marriott loyalty has less influence than Hilton's loyalty, implying that Hilton has a better perceived program and thus, makes the deciding factor when the other "top-3" are about equal. No need for Jasper, now.
Isn't it a little ironic that the poll you created has 60+% showing it's the points rather than location, price, previous experience? So an inference I have is that the survey cited here had an extremely diverse population of travelers whereas your MRI poll has dedicated MR lodgers, the latter being much more influenced when points are made/lost in their <Brand> selection.
Also very interesting to note that Hilton and Starwood percentages are both going up for 2 years, and Marriott went up a little in 2010 and back down in 2011. Not a good trend. Also, as with growth, when your competitors are going up and you are holding still, you are really losing ground.
Jerry, I don't know..I have mixed reviews on this. Hilton has always treated me very well with usual suite upgrades and good customer service. While Marriott has also treated me reasonably well, I feel that they have stumbled with me more lately than in the past. I just hope the Marriott pulls up their socks and reverts back to their old way of treating and handling their most loyal customers!!!
Jerry and Jasper, seems it is a one at a time experience. At times Marriott wins other times it's IHG or Hilton. Some franchised hotels do a better job than others in the Spirit to Serve department. Management has to set the tone and that sometimes is a last thing to do experience after calculating rates, employee relations, etc. It does cost a penny extra to be nice to a guest and nicer to a frequent one. Small things make big differences. Here's hoping that Marriott, if the drop Jasper has noticed continues, will see the need for a return to the greatness and first principles that made them what they are.
I wouldn't trust Starwood. They have a program where you pay for points and the $1000 or so goes towards the purchase of a vacation club ownership if used within a year. It's really hard to get out of since they disappear from the vacation club for most of the week after the first few days of interviews / sales. After paying the $1000, why would you not use those points unless you were as upset with them as we were? We went on an RCI extra vacation in Jan 2010 and turned the paperwork in to the desk saying we didn't want it after all. They wouldn't accept that. There were faxes and other requirements that had to be done. Starwood - not ethical, IMHO.