Carlson customizes loyalty programs

Client: Carlson

Agencies: VML, Tevlot Creative and Riley Hayes

Outtake: Increase consumer interest in revamped loyalty program of Gmail subscribers.

Hospitality and travel company Carlson relaunched its Goldpoints Plus hotel loyalty program on March 31. The revamped Club Carlson loyalty program featured free in-room Wi-Fi, no blackout dates, rollover nights and complimentary room upgrades, among other benefits. ?

Carlson worked with interactive agency VML on the relaunch’s digital aspects. Teviot Creative, a Scotland-based agency, managed the program’s branding and creative, while Riley Hayes handled all copywriting and support. Carlson also worked with Omniture for Web tracking and Epsilon for email marketing. ?

STRATEGY: The central element of the program, like most of these programs, is a free hotel room or trip. However, Heather Passe, VP of marketing, loyalty and e-commerce at Carlson Hotels for the Americas, says Carlson had to make the redemptions unique. “Since every big brand has a program, it makes it hard to stand out,” she explains. “But free nights have become table stakes. We’re going to try to enable a stronger service experience and connection to the hotel.” ?

In addition to the “table stakes” free nights and trips, Carlson added the following benefits to the program: lower points required to redeem a free room; lower value redemption options such as gift cards, so that customers that aren’t frequent travelers can redeem points; ?access to a special concierge service line for theater and sports tickets, and reservations at participating restaurants; and a mobile app for iPhone and Android devices that include express booking, personalization options and GPS mapping.?

To promote the new program, Carlson launched the “Stay Twice, Earn a Free Night” promotion from April 15 through June 15 at its more than 1,000 branded hotels worldwide. Current and newly ?enrolled members who registered and then stayed twice at a Carlson property during the promotional period earned a free night’s stay. ?

RESULTS: Enrollments increased 25% in the five months post-launch compared with the five months prior to launch. Free room redemptions increased 40%, compared with the previous year. Forty percent more customers redeemed points than during the same five-month period in 2010. Enrollments at hotels are up 30%, and more than 1 million new members have enrolled.?

The company continues to improve the program to provide a more personalized experience. Passe says the brand’s strategy and analytics teams are mining the company’s database to “be able to speak to our customers in a personalized manner across all channels.”?

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