Four Seasons to launch a loyalty program later this year

Four Seasons has just announced that they’ll launch their first loyalty program in the third quarter of this year:

“We’re one of the companies that has resisted having a programme for many, many years. But today, we realise that like everything else, this is changing in the world and we are going to have to roll out [a loyalty programme].

“This is something which we don’t have as yet but I think once we have it quarter three of this year it will make a big difference and it will show our guests how much we value their patriotism and support,” he revealed.

There’s no doubt this was bound to happen at some point, especially given how many new hotels they’re opening. Ritz Carlton has had their Ritz Carlton Rewards program for a few years now and it seems to be doing well for them, so I imagine Four Seasons sees a loyalty program both as something needed to stay competitive, and also potentially as a way to generate extra revenue. After all, at least in the US, loyalty programs do seem to be a profit center for travel providers.

But not everyone views a loyalty program as a good thing for a five star hotel chain. Their goal (at least on paper) is to treat everyone like a VIP, so to some degree is that feeling diminished if there are “tiers” of guests? I’d argue there are already tiers, as you have guests that booked through Virtuoso and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, as well as guests that booked through agents that have relationships with the hotel.

I think Four Seasons can steer away from that potential issue by making the benefits pretty concrete. In other words, maybe offer certain members of the loyalty program free internet or late check-out, so that the actual “soft” treatment doesn’t differ substantially. I doubt this program will be anywhere near as generous as the “major” chains, in part because they don’t have to be — people stay at Four Seasons properties for the experience and not the rewards. For that matter I wouldn’t even be surprised if the program doesn’t have elite tiers, or if it doesn’t issue “points.”

I’m curious to see how this pans out.

Comments

  1. @ Troy — I’m sure it’ll happen eventually, though it’ll likely be a few years. Usually we don’t see co-branded credit cards until a loyalty program has been around for at least a few years and the company has a chance to judge it on its own merits.

  2. It won’t be like any of the other programs. Hilton, Marriott (which is all Ritz Carlton really is – it’s not in the same league as FS), Starwood – they’re all fairly nice hotels, but they aren’t luxury. FS is likely doing this to keep track of their repeat guests’ preferences better. They already have guest historians at their properties for that purpose, but I imagine it will be easier if all stays by one member are clearly linked.

    There won’t be different statuses or bonus points. That’s a bit cheap for FS.

  3. I’m really looking forward to the Chase cc with 4 free nights at any Four Seasons property after $1000 minimum spend. 😀

  4. As someone who’s spent more money than I’d like to admit at Four Seasons properties, I say it’s about flippin’ time! I remember being completely incredulous the first time I stayed at a FS and asked about their loyalty program, only to be told that they didn’t have one. The desk agent said that they may give little perks here and there to frequent stayers, but they didn’t have a bonafide loyalty program. Actually that’s part of the reason why I stopped staying at FS and started staying at other chains.

    As mentioned above though, they don’t have to create “tiers” of guests to have a successful program. I would be happy with stay so many nights, get a night free, free meals or spa treatments, etc. Anything would be better than what they have now.

  5. I agree with Coutureguy, I have stayed at other properties when I would have preferred staying at a Four Season’s because I wanted (or needed) points for a loyalty program. I have almost thought of Four Season’s stays as “wasted” stays in the past…perhaps I do take Loyalty points and miles a bit too seriously.

  6. @Erik- Exactly. All that money spent at FS does seem like a waste since we now have our loyalty program glasses on, (even though technically speaking, they are some of the best hotel experiences I’ve had.) Too bad we won’t be given retroactive credits, lol.

  7. @Heather- The “we don’t really want to do it, but kind of have to” tone to that announcement is strange. Doesn’t sound very professional to me.

  8. Four Seasons launched a program for 2012 called By Invitation. It was based on a customers spend and I beleive booking habits…ie booking Four Seasons Villas, Upper Level Suites, etc.

    You earn upgrade credits for every paid night which can be confirmed a few days out. Program also includes free standard wifi, late check out, dedicated reservation line, and a welcome gift.

    Its been a great program for me and generally like to combine it with AMEX Platinum or Virtuoso benefits.

  9. Sure… NOW they create a program after I’ve geared most of my vacations around FS (and Amex FH&R) for the past couple years…! But once you go FS, it’s hard to go back. Off to FS Lisbon and FS Marrakech next week!

  10. They must pick the third quarter to launch for several reasons, Ritz-Carlton rewards launched in Q3 2010. First, it’s after the summer rush and typically has more business travel since there are no major holidays in the month of October. This should be good, I wonder what type of introductory offers they may have.

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