Brand differentiation becomes a chief focus for La Quinta

La Quinta

LAS VEGAS — Loyalty and mobility: two chief focuses for La Quinta Inns & Suites, as the company seeks to better differentiate its brand in the market.

“We need to give travelers a reason to choose La Quinta,” La Quinta CMO Julie Cary said during the brand's conference here at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

To that end, she continued, the La Quinta team is focusing on improving the brand’s loyalty program and its mobile access. 

La Quinta Returns, the hotel company’s loyalty program, is set to undergo a sea change in the coming months.

VP of Loyalty Marketing David Sims explained the need to overhaul the system. Businesses across the U.S. have a total of 3.3 billion loyalty program members, he said, and the average American household is a member of 29 such plans. But most people are only active in 12 loyalty schemes, he said, which means as many as 68 percent of memberships contribute nothing to the business or to the user.

To that end, the new La Quinta Returns will offer some specific perks to keep members engaged and booking regularly. A partnership with will let users accrue points at La Quinta hotels, but spend them on thousands of other properties around the world—in many cases, in markets where La Quinta does not yet have a presence. Users who book on or via the app will get extra points, as will those tagging La Quinta on social media platforms. Guests will be able to use their points to pay for rooms when they check in, and will be able to check out automatically through the app. The app will also auto-upgrade top members to higher room categories. Cary and Sims said that more perks will be announced in coming months.

La Quinta also launched a new program to reward hoteliers who sign their guests up for the loyalty program. Employees can become members of The Million Dollar Club when revenue from guests they’ve enrolled surpasses $1 million. So far, the club has only 312 members, but the number may grow soon: More than 1 million new members joined the program in 2015. 

Ted Schweitzer, ‎SVP of marketing and e-commerce, told the crowd that 35 percent of’s traffic last year was on a mobile device, and mobile revenue grew by 80 percent. There are now more searches for hotels on mobile devices than on desktop computers, he said.

LQ is updating its mobile platform, he continued, to make the user engagement “frictionless.” Two years ago, the company launched its “Ready for You” e-alert program that would tell guests that their room is ready by text message. Nearly half of people booking on the mobile site use the alert, Schweitzer said. 

The company’s app—built with the La Quinta Returns members in mind, Schweitzer said—will also collect guest information for targeted marketing. The relaunched main desktop site will also be customized by guest data, he added, with pictures and words tailored to each guest based upon shared information available on the browser. (He compared the experience to the way that commercials for products will follow guests after they view the item on Amazon.) “We can use guest information to show them relevant content,” he declared.