Analyzing Consumer Opinion About Hotel Rewards Programs
When it comes to brand loyalty, a reward program can make or break a company’s success. The growing need for customer perks is especially prominent in the hotel industry, as companies vie for the devotion of active business travelers and vacationing families. Through long-term loyalty, hotels like the Hilton and Kimpton can retain more customers while turning a profit at lower costs.
The two companies currently market their own distinct programs: Hilton HHonors and Kimpton InTouch. While HHonors involves a multi-faceted, tiered points system, InTouch offers every member simple and similar benefits. How do these different approaches stack up on social media? Using Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight platform, we analyzed social conversation from June 2012 to March 2014 to examine how current program members are talking about the Hilton and Kimpton perks.
When looking at Hilton, the larger, more business-oriented chain, ForSight found over 47,000 relevant posts from Twitter and Facebook about the Hilton HHonors program. User opinion is at an even split, as 50% of the conversation is positive and the other half negative.
In terms of key perks offered by the program, 31% specifically praise the free upgrades and food they receive as HHonors members. Another 17% also speak highly of the program as a whole without mentioning any specific features. While users are content with the free services they receive, only 2% state that they enjoy the points-based system that the Hilton has to offer.
This low volume of positive conversation about the HHonors points is most likely due to the continuing devaluation of the reward system, which can be seen in 24% of posts that specifically criticize the phenomenon. Peaking at the beginning of 2013, several users voice complaints about how the inflation of the points system is “a problem” and does not fairly reward members. Another 4% also state that they have not been rewarded points at all for certain stays.
— David and Diane (@NewNomads) February 20, 2013
Daytona beach Hilton. Three nights bad from start to finish. Even still waiting to see my points. Not a good beginning with HH program.
— Chuck Weatherford (@Chuck9172) July 16, 2013
While some members are concerned with their points, others are focused on connecting to the Internet. Around 10% criticize the Hilton for not allowing all HHonors members—only elite “gold” and “diamond” members—the benefit of free Wi-Fi. In contrast, when looking at the analysis of the Kimpton InTouch program, 14% praise the company for hooking up every member with free access to the web.
In general, Kimpton’s loyalty program outshines HHonors, as 92% of the total discussion is positive. While the free Wi-Fi is a hit among InTouch members, 31% also praised the “raid the mini bar” perk and wine happy hour. Another 8% applaud the Kimpton for offering its members free upgrades and complimentary stays.
Though Hilton HHonors boasts “experiences worth sharing,” it seems travelers prefer to face these experiences with a free drink in hand. The Kimpton’s InTouch programs wins in its simplicity and ability to assure members that their loyalty will not be devalued but rewarded. By using ForSight, companies can gain key consumer insights to better understand customer fulfillment and dissatisfaction.
For more insights into how travel and lodging industry can use social media intelligence for brand management, we invite you to download our brand crisis management case study.