What Are Loyalty Programs? All About How Loyalty Programs Are Personalising Perks For Indian Travellers

Discover how these programs have evolved and transformed the hospitality industry.

by Mallika Khurana
What Are Loyalty Programs? All About How Loyalty Programs Are Personalising Perks For Indian Travellers

Imagine a world where every hotel stay feels like coming home to a place that knows you intimately, catering to your every whim and desire. In today’s fiercely competitive hospitality industry, such personalised experiences aren’t merely a fantasy—they’re the cornerstone of loyalty programs. These programs, much like the secret sauce of your favourite dish, add extra flavour to your travel adventures.

Loyalty programs have evolved dramatically over the years, morphing from simple points-for-stay schemes to sophisticated platforms offering a smorgasbord of perks and privileges. But what exactly are loyalty programs, and how have they transformed over time, particularly in the context of India’s burgeoning hospitality landscape? To unravel this mystery, we turned to none other than Ms. Khushnooma Kapadia, Vice President of Marketing- South Asia, Marriott International, a seasoned expert in the realm of customer engagement and brand loyalty. So fasten your seatbelt and prepare for a journey into the heart of loyalty.

Navigating India’s Loyalty Program Landscape

Photo Credits: Canva

Loyalty programs have become an integral part of the modern hospitality industry, reshaping the way hotels engage with their guests and enhancing the overall customer experience. As Ms. Khushnooma Kapadia, Vice President of Marketing- South Asia, Marriott International, points out, “Adapting to consumer preferences enhances our offerings.”

Traditionally, loyalty programs are focused on offering discounted stays as incentives for repeat business. However, today’s programs are more nuanced, emphasising personalised rewards and experiences tailored to individual preferences. Ms. Kapadia emphasises, “Loyalty programs have undergone significant evolution responding to the dynamic demands of customers.” She also highlights, “Strategic partnerships have become vital in enhancing the value proposition of loyalty programs.” Partnerships with airlines, credit card companies, and online retailers have become vital in enhancing the value proposition of loyalty programs. For example, the Marriott Bonvoy HDFC Bank Credit Card offers a host of benefits, leveraging the strengths of both brands. 

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How Marriott Is Shaping The Future Of Hospitality In India?

Photo Credits: Canva

Measuring the success of loyalty programs involves assessing member engagement, retention, and overall business impact. Marriott International focuses on delivering diverse experiences that cater to the varied interests and needs of their guests. Ms. Kapadia highlights strategic collaborations such as India’s first co-branded hotel credit card with HDFC Bank and partnerships like the one with Ed Sheeran’s India tour. She states, “Our partnerships and collaborations serve as strategic differentiators that strengthen the travel ecosystem by reaching customers where they are.”

Partnerships with artists like Ed Sheeran enhance the appeal of loyalty programs, particularly for younger demographics in India. Such collaborations provide exclusive experiences like concerts or meet-and-greets, driving higher engagement and increasing awareness among tech-savvy youth. Ms. Kapadia emphasises, “Collaborating with globally renowned artists like Ed Sheeran not only enhances our brand image but also resonates strongly with younger demographics who admire and follow popular musicians.”

The decision to partner with artists like Ed Sheeran is aimed at offering exclusive experiences to Marriott Bonvoy members. Ms. Kapadia highlights how Marriott Bonvoy is dedicated to using cutting-edge strategies to connect with the upcoming generation of travellers. They not only draw in new business but also foster a sense of loyalty among current patrons. She says, “This partnership underlines Marriott Bonvoy’s commitment to engaging with the next generation of travellers through innovative means.”

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The Art Of Crafting Memorable Experiences

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Marriott Bonvoy boasts over 6 million members in India, with loyalty remaining the foundation of its success. Through initiatives like Marriott Bonvoy Moments, the program offers ‘money-cannot-buy’ experiences, attracting tourists and fostering emotional bonds with members. Ms. Kapadia cites initiatives like Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels, Shaadi by Marriott Bonvoy, and Masters of Marriott Bonvoy as examples of the program’s diverse array of offerings in India. She states, “Today, we are doubling down on creating value with approximately 6 million Marriott Bonvoy Members across India.”

In leveraging digital platforms and social media, Marriott Bonvoy adopts a digital-first approach tailored to the preferences of the local audience. Ms. Kapadia highlights the use of targeted campaigns, influencer partnerships, and collaborations with key players in the travel industry to stay relevant and engage with consumers across digital channels. She concludes, “Our marketing strategies focus on targeted campaigns tailored to the rich cultural tapestry of South Asia; we are embracing a digital-first approach over traditional methods.”

The landscape of loyalty programs in India’s hospitality industry is certainly undergoing a remarkable transformation.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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