I would like to present a business concept which I have had the opportunity to implement as a “Loyalty Program” between two groups of hotels on the famous Greek Islands; Mykonos and Santorini.
Two hoteliers from these well-known Greek destinations have joined together to create their own unique loyalty program. With their cooperative action, each group from the hotels on these islands now offers a discount to the guests of the other group.
As of March 2012, resorts of Mykonos with Caldera Collection, have put into effect a loyalty program that rewards guests of the other group with a 10% discount through their website.
Whilst it is true that sometimes simple solutions have the most tangible results, the hardest part is not finding that solution, but being able to collaborate with a person who is compatible. This is what has been achieved through this beneficial program.
Studying the bookings of Santorini and Mykonos, we found that a large percentage of travelers used to visit both islands during their trip. The North Americans, in particular made up much higher % of these findings. Also, requests by guests on Santorini for recommended hotels on Mykonos and vice versa were very common, bringing us to the conclusion that a “loyalty program” would be an excellent opportunity for the hotels to work together in a combined effort to satisfy the needs of their guests. This program would increase sales in both groups and on the other hand, would encourage guests to book from their website and not from any OTA site (booking Expedia) which would result in a commission loss for the hotelier.
Collaboration is a skill that makes something which cannot be accomplished alone, quite possible. Thus, establishing a climate and environment where businessmen from similar or competitive fields can successfully work together is very important.
I have been extremely lucky on that part because both Mr. George Kassavetis who is the managing director of the resorts on Mykonos, as well as Mr. Andreas Patiniotis who is the Managing Director of the Caldera Collection were very open-minded and understood immediately the benefits of the loyalty program. They listened carefully to the idea and were enthusiastic to implement it right there and then.
The project also had a technological advantage because both groups used the same booking engine (Webhotelier.) During the implementation, we had the full support of Webhotelier who produced a dynamic voucher for the hotels, using the already implemented technology they use for loyalty programs of group hotels. They also programmed the multi- property finder which you can see working for all nine hotels of both groups.
We produced the necessary marketing material as well as texts and description on internal pages of the hotels, describing the program and how a guest can redeem the voucher on the other island. You can see an example here or here
How it Works
A hotel from any of both groups rewards a 10% discount for a booking to the other group of hotels. Once a guest makes a reservation at one of the hotels of these two groups, the confirmation email includes a voucher coupon code for the hotels of the other destination, independent of which destination the guest selects first. (Customers of Destination A get a discount on destination B and vice versa.)
The whole process has been made simple so the only thing that a guest has to do is to select which destination they want to travel to first and then book. Then, they select which hotel they like from the group of hotels at destination B and include the voucher they received in the confirmation email of the hotel at destination A.
If the guest does not want to travel to destination B, then he can share this voucher code with a third person, relative or friend.
With this unique loyalty program, guests can only benefit. Both hotels increase their sales by providing a tempting offer and encourage guests to book through their website. They also receive guests from each other who won’t book through any OTA site. The guest receives a discount on their vacation and in some cases a third person or a friend of the guest is awarded the right to use the discount too.
From the day the program was adopted, we immediately saw there was a higher success with bookings at the expensive resorts, (mostly five stars.) This was expected since there is the higher benefit from the % of the discount.
Moreover, our studies showed that guests interacted with the program by booking first the less expensive hotel at destination A so as to have a higher discount on the expensive hotel at destination B. This is acceptable to businessmen and it doesn’t break the business model which is based on extra sales.
We have established a website www.mykonosantorini.com where more businesses can have access and participate to our loyalty program and offer the standard 10% discount when the guest visits a restaurant, goes on a wine tasting tour at a local vineyard or books a boat excursion for a day.
The goal is to get more and more local businesses on both islands involved with the program so that guests see the benefit of the loyalty program which offers benefits to everyone. Due to the recent increasing demand from travelers, travel agents on the islands will be able to have access to the program offering the full packet discount to guests. Moreover, hoteliers from nearby islands who have requested to join the program will encourage travelers to visit other destinations too. As the concept takes off, it will be possible to link more hotels to build a chain to a number of other destinations such as, Athens-Santorini-Mykonos etc.
Such ideas could work also between other famous double destinations such as “Rome –Florence”, “Miami – Bahamas” “Valencia – Ibiza” and more…