We talk with Tammy Lucas of Best Western Hotels about the state of the industry’s rewards programs, including what motivates both customers and brands and how the most cutting-edge technology may impact the industry.

What should a customer keep in mind when choosing a rewards card?

Tammy Lucas: When choosing a rewards card, a customer should consider whether the rewards expire, what truly is the value proposition of the rewards program.  

Is this something you see most people ignore or misunderstand from the get-go?

We do feel there is often a misunderstanding when consumers are attempting to decipher which loyalty program to choose. It’s important for us to convey our offerings to consumer, so they are given the opportunity to take advantage of our tremendous opportunities.

Do you have any top tips for frequent travelers?                 

Rewards programs target different preferred lodging styles, travel habits and hobbies. Frequent travelers should choose a strong rewards program that is flexible and one that they can customize to best suit their individual travel habits and needs. Every loyalty program has its differences, so choosing a program that fits will help make travel easier and less expensive.

“We want the guest to trust us and, thus, we feel the need to provide as many options to them as we can.”

How has the hotel rewards industry changed over the last decade?

Hotel companies are revamping loyalty programs to include more than just earning free hotel stays. Now travelers can enjoy rewards such as dining, shopping and entertainment gift cards, as well as points toward airline tickets. Many companies are now using their loyalty programs to market their brands and to get more people to become reward members. Additionally, it’s important to play off of current events and trends.

How has this impacted businesses and consumers?

Loyalty programs have had a positive influence on our business model and we believe other businesses and companies would feel the same. We want the guest to trust us and, thus, we feel the need to provide as many options to them as we can. Building partnerships is a major key to a successful loyalty program and we think this helps with our value proposition. It’s given consumers more opportunities to earn the rewards of consistent travel.   

How has technology allowed your business to keep things personal for rewards customers?

We teamed up with a communications technology company to help cultivate a self-service interaction platform that gives users the ability to navigate via phone without the frustration that tends to come with customer-automated voice interaction. In addition, we’ve recently rolled out our I Care, Every Guest Every Time initiative. Partnering with Mursion, a virtual training platform where professionals practice and master complex interpersonal skills. The result? We design and deliver simulations for front desk staff that mimic real-life customer interactions, and become perhaps the first to leverage VR to transform communications between front desk staff and guests. This is just another way that we can help give back to our rewards customers that have been so good to us.