Update no 1 in early May: the group has made it to the next round!
Update no 2 end of May: Congrats, they made it to the finals in Paris, top 5!
Check out the video that made them enter!
Update no 3: they came in 2nd! woohoo!!!
I know, this is not my typical spa article.
Yet I feel sharing this story with you not only for the interesting topic of what guest loyalty in the hospitality industry may look like in the year 2020, but mainly because I would love to support three of my students, who are taking on the Accor student challenge.
I hope you enjoy the article and feel like supporting students in this challenge by giving your vote.
Your future of loyalty
Accor Group is organising an original and innovative student competition from March 25th to June 18th, 2015. The Take Off! Student Challenge launched worldwide in 2012 with Universities, Business Schools and Hotel Management Schools, allows students to work on different fields of hospitality, customer experience and innovation.
Students are evaluated by Accor professionals and top-school teachers with different cultural backgrounds. This year’s topic is to “Dream up the future of ACCOR loyalty program!” Imagining how you would enhance the customer experience in 2020.
To find a solution to this very interesting topic we set out to look into future possibilities both outside and within the hotel industry, while at the same time fixing fundamental issues of loyalty programs in the travel industry at present. It is challenging to consider the change in customer loyalty and guest experiences in the year 2020 and raises a lot of questions as to how modern techniques will work.
Convenience is what guests prefer most
Accor is a hotel group with many different brands located in various segments which made it kind of tricky to think of one program that covered all bases.
From the beginning we knew we wanted to keep our program simple and convenient, believing this is what guests prefer the most.
After extensively researching the important aspects of customer loyalty programs we have reached a point where we have generated a simple and future-focused solution.
Technology and Social Media support understanding individual guest’s needs
Our inspiring program concept combines the latest technology and newest trends in social media, concentrating on one (in our opinion) very significant aspect, the loyal customer’s individual wants and needs.
Most loyalty systems are complicated and offered perks come with many exceptions, we want to steer away from this concept, we want customers to be empowered to choose the most beneficial perks for themselves.
Therefore in our opinion, one app that utilises social media and creates a personal space for customers to interact with will be a driving force for the future of customer loyalty.
Dividing the program into its three core features:
- integration of social media
- personal component
Let us first look at the app concept
An integrated and intuitive system, this new app enables Accor’s guests to manage everything in relation to their stay directly from a mobile device. Whether it is checking in/out, controlling the room settings or simply making a reservation at the restaurant, everything is possible with our App! The higher the loyalty level you are, the greater the variety of features there will be for you to manage via your App.
The integration of Social Media
Our program’s second feature is the integration of social media. Social media is an essential part of our daily lives and is a convenient way for guests to keep track of Accor’s special offers and news updates. An exciting aspect of using social media as a means to connect guests, is to build it around a new and creative referral scheme, that allows users of the app who stay with Accor to submit reviews and referrals via their social media accounts for their friends to see. This generates a wave of “snowball” effects which systematically allows previous guests to advertise Accor’s high standard of customer loyalty to new and potential customers offering rewards and discounts. The connections already present in social media sites like FaceBook fit this system perfectly and is a gateway to a more conscious form of referral.
And thirdly: the personal component
Studies have shown that 96% of loyalty program members in the hospitality industry wish for a more personalised experience/ system, so it is only natural that we are pushing our system that direction, concentrating on personalising the hotel experience, creating a happier customer.
Today’s benefits are a chore to understand, one benefit is not available in the companies budget hotel, the next one is available within the hotel chain but only in special locations, it is just confusing.
Our idea is simple, guests can use their points for a variety of different options depending on the hotel they go to.
So you can get a bottle of wine instead of the traditional fruit basket, or maybe you prefer a cocktail?
It is all your choice. You earned those points, so you should be able to spend them as you like.
We believe that this way Accor can easily reconcile all its brands with one loyalty program and because the system meets individual needs it is beneficial not only to Accor, but also for every guest.
So far we have entered the first round of the competition and have had a lot of fun working on this real case study. It was a pleasure to delve deeper into new ideas and be able to think creatively about how we can change the future.
We need reader’s support
To get to the second round we need to collect votes for our program and everybody’s vote counts!
So if you are also of the opinion that the future needs a simple, convenient and modern loyalty program we would greatly appreciate it if you could vote for us! (find us on page 13 after following the link)
Our goal is to make it to the next round and after that to the finale in Paris to represent our University, the IUBH School of Business and Management Bad Reichenhall.
This competition is a great opportunity to get in direct contact with Accor executives and to learn more about the hotel group. During the time in Paris we would be allowed to visit the Accor headquarters where we could receive a better insight into the company’s operations.
Also, the winners of the competition will get a free stay in one of Accor’s hotels in a city of choice, which definitely would enlighten our summer break!
We are ready for take off!
Vincent Löffler, Laura-Maria Schober & Kathrin Hundhausen
all pictures by Vincent Löffler, logo by www.accortakeoff.com