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While most “loyalty” programs in hospitality these days don’t truly equate to true customer loyalty, stash rewards seems to have a model that might actually engage travelers and compete with the big players.

What do you think? Would you be likely to participate in this loyalty program amidst independent resorts & hotels? What independents are you a Zealot for currently that you’d like to see in the mix?

As shared from…

Stash Rewards
A former Expedia executive is launching a loyalty program that enables independents to compete with the big hotel chains, reports Elizabeth Olson in the New York Times (8/3/10). Jeff Low, along with “e-commerce veterans of Amazon, Microsoft and Zillow … has signed up 79 hotels in 63 cities” in Stash Hotel Rewards. All of the participating properties have three-star ratings or higher, and the idea is to give travelers more choices.

“Travelers said they often felt forced to make a frustrating trade-off,” says Jeff. “An independent hotel offers a more memorable, personalized guest experience, rather than the same bland room and identical bed in the big-box hotel just to earn points.” The concept is poised to work equally well for the hotels: “Independent hotels can now say that we’ve got what you’re looking for, and there’s also something in it for you, the traveler,” says Jan Freitag of Smith Travel Research.

The independents certainly could use a boost. Occupancy at independent hotels dropped 8.9 percent last year and rates dropped by 9.5 percent, according to Smith Travel. The Stash Network is less expensive for hotels than other online booking sites, which typically charge 25 percent per booking, versus seven percent via Stash. Jeff Low says he hopes to have signed an additional 200 upscale independents by next year, which would put Stash in a league with Hyatt, which has 240 properties, and on the trail of Starwood, which has 500 in the US.

Let me start by saying that I’m a Zealot for Publix, so posting on Kroger is certainly not something I’ll plan to do often. However, this article on loyalty got my attention.

They say the cost to acquire a new customer is five to ten times more than keeping a current customer. Kroger has done the math and dedicated themselves to creating loyal customers by creating more than people just looking for a discount.

Read the below excerpt from Tim Manner’s “reveries” blog. What do you think? Is Kroger creating loyal customers? Are they building Zealots for their brand?

“We don’t need to draw in others who don’t shop with us because the biggest opportunity is with our loyal customers,” says Kroger chief David Dillon in a Cincinnati Enquirer article by Laura Braverman (10/8/09). David says Kroger realized this almost ten years ago, and has been on a path ever since “to put the customer first, and permanently.” Most famously, Kroger engaged with London-based dunnhumby to build a database of 45 million shoppers, using the data to “create advertising campaigns and provide targeted coupons to its most loyal customers.”

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