Travel is personal.
The travel industry contributed to US$7.2 trillion or 9.8% to world GDP in 2015, and is forecast to grow by 4% per annum over the next ten years. In addition, millennians, an increasingly important segment of the international travel sector, is expected to reach about 300 million trips per year by 2020. Creating personalized experience for the customer based on data collection and analytics are a core part of how Diamond Resorts manages its business said Mike Flaskey, Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Resorts to Cheese Traveller. Customer-centric programs that increase member satisfaction and loyalty offer access to VIP concerts, culinary events featuring world-renowned chefs, exciting sporting events and the opportunity to meet celebrity ambassadors in exclusive venues.
Research from Collinson Group found that consumers are expending more customized redemption options from loyalty programs to secure their loyalty. The key findings showed that: Over two thirds (68%) of loyalty program members are looking for more choice of rewards besides the traditional offerings of flights and hotels.Nearly half (45%) described redemption programs only offering these rewards as ‘dated’ and ‘old fashioned’. Over half of members (55% of airline and 57% of hotel loyalty program members) would like to be able to redeem their points in retail outlets. 40% agree (42% of airline and 37% of hotel members) that the value of a loyalty program decreases if they cannot redeem their points in-store
The research showed also a clear commercial benefit for travel loyalty programs providing a broader redemption offering, beyond their core inventory, for example, booking a hotel room through a hotel loyalty program. Non – core rewards, for example, day experiences, electronic goods, drive re-engagement and rewards are very powerful in winning back customers who haven’t purchased from a brand for some time (3 months); of the 1 in 2 (48%) of members who had reported that a redemption had driven a re-engagement with their program, 58% of members had redeemed on non-core inventory in comparison to 43% who had redeemed on core inventory. Furthermore, non-core inventory is more regularly redeemed than core inventory by members who were part of a program not based in their home region. Nearly a third (31%) of these members regularly redeem on non-core inventory, as opposed to 18% of members who regularly redeem on core item.
How important are data analytics capabilities to increase customer loyalty?
Our business is focused on creating unforgettable vacation experiences for our members, owners and guests. To achieve this mission, we have to get to know our customers very well. For this reason, data collection and analytics are a core part of how Diamond Resorts manages its business. Data analytics are used for decision-making across the business and drives innovation within. Diamond Resorts tracks not just leads, prospects and sales, but also customer feedback, satisfaction and preferences through surveys. The statistics collected are then used to develop customer-centric programs that increase member satisfaction and loyalty. Because we collect feedback from our members, owners and guests, we can continually improve as well as create experiences that align with their interests.
How important is it to discover a customer’s travel preferences in order to create personalized experiences?
Diamond Resorts offers its members the opportunity to enjoy vacations that go above and beyond the expected so that the traveler’s experience is memorable and something they want to share with friends and family. The company created a one-of-a-kind program called Events of a Lifetime® for its members, which offers access to VIP concerts, culinary events featuring world-renowned chefs, exciting sporting events and the opportunity to meet celebrity ambassadors in exclusive venues. Diamond Resorts also offers a variety of experiences that include Member Escorted Journeys to worldwide destinations, Diamond Dream Holidays, the Diamond Luxury Selection® and the Diamond Resorts Invitational™. These special experiences and products not only differentiate Diamond Resorts from other vacation ownership providers, but they also increase member satisfaction and drive loyalty.
For example, this fall, one of our Events of Lifetime® will include a six-night stay at our Los Amigos Beach Club in Spain, daily tours to the major sites and attractions, and cultural events like Flamenco dancing. These types of events build greater customer loyalty because we have provided them an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Most importantly, we developed and designed these experiences and products based off of the feedback we received from our members and their travel preferences.
Why should travel businesses focus on delivering an optimal travel experience from research and planning, through to post trip?
While I can’t speak for all travel businesses, creating unique experiences for our members has been an integral part of Diamond Resorts’ success. We don’t just provide our members with access to outstanding accommodations in highly-desirable, global locations; we also put together innovative programs such as Events of a Lifetime® which includes VIP experiences that we are confident our members will enjoy. And as I mentioned already, following these experiences, we always ask our members for their feedback so we can know their preferences and continue to exceed their expectations.
How can a travel business increase traveler lifetime value with a more compelling value proposition through digital experience or service utility?
I think there are a number of ways in which various digital tools can positively impact traveler lifetime value. For example, we are very active social media users because it allows us to continue engaging with our members, owners and guests even when they are not at one of our properties. We also recognize that not everyone is comfortable communicating the same way. That’s why our hospitality management agents are available through multiple channels including a toll-free number, email or an app.
At the same time, we continue to believe that human contact is critical to maintaining high-levels of customer satisfaction. As a result, at Diamond Resorts we use these newer digital tools to augment our more traditional forms of customer service tools. In fact, my personal business cards can be found at every Diamond Resorts managed property’s front desk around the world, providing every member, owner and guest with direct communication to the executive leadership team.