(Photo: Kimpton Hotels)
If you want to earn points toward a future stay at a hotel, try posting a photo of the hotel on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Hotels are increasingly expanding the ways guests can earn rewards beyond reserving a room. Now they are recognizing them for certain "behaviors."
Today, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants will launch Kimpton Karma Rewards, a new loyalty program designed to recognize guests for actions such as attending a property's nightly wine hour, traveling with their pet, dining at a Kimpton restaurant, or mentioning an individual hotel or restaurant on social media.
This follows on the heels of Marriott introducing PlusPoints in May, which allows members to earn Rewards points for "everyday social behaviors" such as tweets, retweets, checking in on Facebook and posting on Instagram.
"Loyalty as a concept is not just about transactions," says Maggie Lang, senior director of guest marketing at Kimpton. "Karma is rewarding engagement."
Many hotel chains have over the years come up with new ways for guests to earn rewards. Some examples:
- InterContinental Hotels Group Rewards Club members earn points for purchases in the hotel restaurant, gift shop, spa and other on-site venues.
- Starwood has Crossover Rewards with Delta Air Lines. Starwood Preferred Guests can earn Starpoints when they fly Delta, and Delta frequent fliers can earn Skymiles when they stay at a Starwood property.
- Club Carlson, the Carson Rezidor loyalty program, has a new "Be the Bright Spot" program that lets hotel staff give bonus points or elite status to "inspirational" frequent guests.
Rewarding guests for their social media behavior takes it to another level and is a clear play for younger Millennial travelers who are traveling more.
"As we started to think about new ways to allow the next generation of traveler to connect with ... and participate in rewards, we thought this was an interesting idea," says Rich Toohey, vice president of Marriott Rewards. "It was a cool opportunity for them to take advantage of and participate by doing what they're already doing."
Marriott Rewards members can earn up to 2,000 points a month and have four transactions a day. They earn 25 points for following participating hotels' Twitter and Instagram accounts or for re-tweeting content from the Marriott Rewards Twitter account with the hashtag #MRPoints.
Marriott is still tweaking the program. When it first launched, guests could earn as many as 250 points for a Twitter or Facebook follow. The program started with 50 participating hotels. That has grown to more than 360.
Through Kimpton's Karma Rewards, guests won't necessarily earn points. They could get personalized perks instead. There will be four tiers of members, and guests can move up in tiers based on their engagement. Perks can include a welcome amenity, in-room spa credit and access to Kimpton's CEO.
"We empower each hotel to do something different," Lang says.
Gary Leff, co-founder of Milepoint.com, a frequent-flier community, says hotels are still at the experimental stages with this new concept, as evidenced by Marriott already decreasing the number of points awarded for Twitter and Facebook follows.
"The challenge each brand faces is how to authentically connect with members, and indeed with large numbers of members, leveraging technology," he says. "That's not something they've really figured out how to do yet – but each is trying different things."
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