Men Who Like to Cook - David Latt

Friday, February 13, 2009

Accor Combines Its Loyalty Programs and the Traveler Comes Out Ahead

Recently Accor redesigned its loyalty program to differentiate itself from its competitors,. Each of its branded hotels had its own program. Spanning so many levels of hotel service--luxury (Sofitel), upscale (Pullman MGallery), midscale (Novotel, Mercure, Suitehotel), and economy (Ibis, All Seasons, Motel6)-- Accor wanted a more focused approach, so all the individual programs were consolidated into their new A/Club.

Like other hotel loyalty programs, every time you stay in an Accor property, you earn points. The more nights you stay, the more points you accumulate, the more free nights you earn. In that, Accor is similar to the award programs offered by its competitors, InterContinental, Starwood, Hilton, and Marriott.

What's different about A/Club is Accor uses its loyalty program to encourage their customers to spend as much time as possible inside their properties. If you belong to A/Club and stay at the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg , for example, you earn points for every dollar or Euro you spend at the hotel. You accumulate points not only when you pay for the room, but also when you eat in the restaurant, buy a newspaper, have a massage, or pick up supplies at the sundries store.

To encourage frequent visits, A/Club also adds an accelerator feature. Instead of a one-to-one ratio of money spent to points accumulated, with A/Club's Elite membership levels, there's a multiplier effect. At the Silver level, 1 Euro = 3 points; the Gold, 1 Euro = 3.5 points; and the Platinum, 1 Euro = 4 points. The effect is geometric. There are no blackout periods and, as long as you have one visit every 12 months, the points never expire.

As another convenience, awards are reclaimed as cash vouchers. For every 2,000 points, you receive a voucher worth cash that can be used to pay for goods and services at any of Accor's hotels or affiliated companies. Where and how you spend your vouchers is up to you. They can even be traded for miles with their airline partners, which include Delta, US Airways, Air France, and British Airways.

If you are a business traveler traveling frequently between the U.S. and Europe and you stay in a Sofitel or one of the other Accor properties, the points you accumulate working for your employer can be used when you go on vacation. Stay at Sofitel Hotels on business and use your vouchers in the summer at a Novotel when you take your family on vacation to the south of France or Thailand.