DMNews talks with Adam Burke, SVP of customer loyalty at Hilton Hotels Corp.
Adam Burke, SVP of customer loyalty at Hilton Hotels Corp., discusses what keeps the chain's 21-year-old loyalty program, Hilton HHonors, fresh and growing.
Q: How have Hilton HHonors' member communications changed over the years?
A: Hilton HHonors is the only guest rewards program that offers both points and miles with no blackout dates at the more than 3,000 Hilton family hotels worldwide. In the past, communications from the loyalty program, which has close to 25 million members, were broadly targeted. Two years ago, they evolved toward more customization. Last year, they were truly personalized for the first time and this year, we've added trigger-based messaging in real time.
Q: How did these changes evolve?
A: Through our proprietary messaging system developed with Epsilon called Sonar. It's about providing customers the right communication in real time based on particular activities. For example, the Sonar system can trigger a message offering someone with a history of using rewards for stays in Hawaii a special deal from Hilton in Hawaii once that person earns enough points.
Q: What else has Hilton introduced in its customer loyalty program this year?
A: Consumers want one-stop shopping in how they earn and redeem points, so in the past six months, we launched a redemption mall where members can redeem their points through thousands of merchants. And, two weeks ago, we added an earnings mall, enabling members to earn points for every dollar they spend on iTunes, for example.
Q: What are some of the results of these changes?
A: In 2008, there has been a 28% increase in the amount we pay out to purchase rewards. I consider that a great thing, because a customer who has a great redemption experience is generally a very happy customer. In addition, the amount of revenue Hilton has received from Hilton HHonors members has increased 13%.
Q: What's next for the program?
A: We're trying to provide more experiential rewards. For example, by looking at the profiles of our member base, we determined that a significant number are into live music. So this summer, we're launching a program enabling members to earn a ticket to a Live Nation amphitheater concert.