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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.

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