Inspiring Loyalty Among Millennials

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hotel rewards programs, millennials, meetings
Marriott’s pop-up NFL guest room

Some are calling 2017 the year of personalization; others, the year of the millennial.

Follow an attendee as she arrives at Houston’s NRG Stadium on the eve of Super Bowl 50 and makes her way to her abode for the night—a pop-up suite overlooking the field. Breakfast in bed is delivered the next morning by Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who not only dines with the attendee and her guest, but tosses a football around with them before signing and offering it as a keepsake. Marriott’s NFL sleepover contest jump-started the company’s new “Experiences Marketplace,” which according to Brian King, global brand officer for Marriott International, caters to the millennial need for experiences over things, especially when it comes to cashing in on hotel rewards programs.

“Experiences mean more than points. In the marketplace, Marriott Rewards members are redeeming points on everything from meet and greets with Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas to a VIP limo tour and shopping experience. There’s something for everyone, but we’re finding that the program’s experiential nature is really connecting with our millennial base.” Expected to dazzle later this year is an option for a presidential inauguration celebration at Washington, DC’s Newseum (worth 175,000 points).

Focus on F&B

Personalizing tiered rewards programs around millennial preferences is soon to become the norm. King says the way a hotel handles F&B is “wicked important” to this regard, especially when considering the generation of self-described foodies. “For our age group going out to dinner once a month was a huge deal—millennials go out once a week.” Marriott’s marketplace offers everything from dinner in a life-sized gingerbread house to dessert workshops with expert pastry chefs. John Iannini, VP of Melia Hotels International, adds pre-arrival F&B preferences to the millennial checklist. “We customize the entire arrival experience. A bottle of albarino wine—white, not red—is always waiting for me in my room.”

Make It Social

Millennials inspired and helped build the sharing economy we all now find ourselves in. It’s only fitting that they value the social side of loyalty programs and events overall.

Social rewards are growing to include givebacks where millennials choose from a list of pay-it-forward options. Iannini says pop-up entertainment is also popular. “Groups never know what to expect with us—we don’t repeat entertainment over a 7-day period. It’s always fresh.”

Get Techy

Leveraging tech-savvy millennials to test out the latest in-room innovations for short-term rewards is another emerging trend. A simple “one engagement reward” could be just the incentive needed to entice millennial attendees, while also making for a fun group experience. Consider a testing room or offering attendees the option to try out specific amenities during the course of their stay.

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