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.