Cobblestone Hotels is in the midst of rolling out a new rewards program, shedding the previous punch-card based strategy present since the brand launched.
The program itself is set up through a partnership with Voila Hotel Rewards, a global independent hotel rewards program, and allows hotel guests to redeem points for roomnights, gift cards and flights through most major airlines. The program also provides three tiers for guests:
- Silver: Guests qualify with zero room nights, and benefits include priority check-in and the ability to accrue points each night.
- Gold: Guests qualify after 10 nights per year, and includes a 25-percent bonus on points, early and late check-in, free room upgrades and complimentary access to the hotel fitness and wellness centers.
- Platinum: Guests qualify after 20 nights per year, and provides a 50-percent bonus on points as well as no blackout dates, 24-hour guaranteed room availability, priority room reservations, special welcome amenities and complimentary access to on property executive lounges.
According to Josie Kilgore, Cobblestone Hotels' VP of brand services and procurement, the goal of the program was to take out the middleman when it comes to rewards, and as such the new program integrates with existing SkyTouch property management solutions used in Cobblestone hotels.
Kilgore said the company originally planned to overhaul its rewards makeup once its portfolio reached 100 open properties. With 90 hotels open and several more in its pipeline, Cobblestone revealed an updated program to its franchise advisory board in November 2016, and the rollout has since begun.
"Any type of advancement in technology or strategy has a cost attached to it, so we wanted to hold off on making changes until the process would be considered sustainable," Kilgore said. "The process turned out to not be as expensive as we thought, but the goal of reaching 100 properties served more as a mental milestone."
In recent years hoteliers have been placing greater emphasis on providing access to a simple, attractive loyalty program to enhance their brands. Kilgore said that companies like Cobblestone aren't looking to roll out new projects for the sake of it, but providing more in a simpler package is at the top of many operators' to-do lists.
"It's appealing particularly to corporate travelers, they can use those points toward flights or on gift cards for friends or family," Kilgore said. "We used to only offer a cash option or reward credit. It's something that a lot of guests have been asking for, and it helps drive direct bookings. Even if we can sway just one booking away from competitors it makes a difference."