Is your loyalty program loyal to you?

Last week I made a reservation to stay at the Novotel hotel in Darling Harbour, Sydney. The booking was for this coming Friday.

However, to my surprise last Sunday morning I received a survey email from the hotel’s parent company Accor asking to rate my stay. Perplexed by this, I rang Accor and quoted my membership number. I proceeded to query why this email had been sent given I was due to stay the following week? The response stunned me.

The customer support person told me the booking was complete. I explained the booking was for the following Friday. He disagreed. The customer support person then put me on hold and came back a minute or so later and said, “the booking was for the previous day and that had now passed, I’m sorry but there is nothing we can do as your credit card has been processed”. He then suggested I call the hotel directly to see if they could resolve the matter.

I rang the Novotel hotel only to receive the same robotic and emotionless response from their manager. I quizzed the manager; did he sincerely believe it was okay to take my money with no exchange of services? His response was a slight pause… followed by, “I’m sorry, but there is nothing we can do but offer you a small discount on a future stay”. This irritated me no end, particularly given I’m a loyalty club member and frequent visitor to their hotels.

What’s the moral of the story? Choose who you give your loyalty to wisely and always look for evidence you’re truly valued as a member. I was loyal and demonstrated it by staying in their hotels regularly. Yet my commitment wasn’t honoured by them when it mattered most to me. Am I disappointed? Well, I may have parted with $200 on little more than an earful of insincerity, but I’ve moved on and know someone else will appreciate my business.

Some words of warning to companies with loyalty programs – if you print the word “loyalty” on your membership cards, at the very least understand what the concept of developing and honouring a relationships means. Loyalty is a two-way street. If you want your customers to be loyal to you, give them a damn good reason to be.

Trent Leyshan is the founder and CEO of sales training company BOOM! As a sales expert and facilitator, he partners with some of the world’s most dynamic and demanding sales driven companies. Trent is also the founder of and the author of THE NAKED SALESMAN: How to walk the talk and sell your way to success!


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