In the travel industry, points are the currency of loyalty programs. The longer you stay, or the further you fly, the more points you earn. And, as everybody knows, those points translate into free nights and free flights.
When Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, which pioneered the boutique hotel concept in the United States, wanted to revamp their loyalty program, they had a loftier goal in mind. By focusing on creating “ridiculously personal experiences” for each of its guests, Kimpton has grown rapidly into a portfolio of 62 hotels and nearly 70 restaurants, bars, and lounges in 26 cities, each offering tailored experiences for guests. Guests have responded by rewarding Kimpton with the highest customer satisfaction scores (93%) and emotional attachment scores (89%) of any hotel company in the United States, according to Market Metrix Hospitality Index™.
So rather than design a one-size-fits-all loyalty program, Kimpton set out to devise a sophisticated CRM and loyalty program, delivering more personalized experiences to build brand loyalists for life.
Armed with survey data that showed its guests highly value experiential rewards, the company developed Kimpton Karma Rewards. Building the new program on Salesforce App Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the hospitality company was able to infuse Kimpton Karma with opportunities to surprise and delight members in ways that felt always personal — but never intrusive.
“Our goal is to ensure that our digital experience aligns with our hotel experience, and the feeling that you have when you walk into one of our hotels,” says Kathleen Reidenbach, SVP Marketing. “Marketing Cloud enables us to personalize each customer touch point with tailored content, offers and more, sending travelers on a delightful and fun journey.”
Inside Karma, a proprietary algorithm uniquely awards guests by taking into account not only a member's stays and purchases, but also less obvious actions such as whether a member books their stay directly on the website, attends the hosted evening Wine Hour, or interacts with the brand through social media.
The potential for surprise is one of the hallmarks of Kimpton Karma. That “little extra” Kimpton awards to its members is deliberately randomized, which can change what is normally a quid pro quo into unexpected delight. Chatter allows hotel staff across the country to directly communicate and input information about guest preferences so these perks and surprises become even more personalized across all Kimpton properties.
"This allows us to truly treat individuals as individuals," says Reidenbach. “We find unique ways of delighting guests when they least expect it.” For example, a guest recently posted an Instagram photo of Kimpton’s fun yoga mats in her room. A week later, she came home to a new Kimpton yoga mat waiting at her doorstep. “But we don’t promise anything,” Reidenbach emphasizes. “If people are expecting a gift, it’s not as much fun.”
Kimpton is setting the standard with amenities like these but the company’s leadership is careful about never getting too comfortable in its ways. “We’re continuously innovating and listening to our guests. We want to keep finding ways to make travel and life at home better. We are a lifestyle brand that builds long term relationships with our guests — our journey with the guest extends far beyond their travel,” Reidenbach shared.
The company prefers the insights gleaned from its personal interactions with guests to the broad trends produced by big data. “People change and it’s important to get to know them on a one-to-one basis so we can understand their evolving needs and interests,” says Reidenbach. “The better we know our customers, the more relevant we can make their experience.”
The ultimate goal of Kimpton Karma is to increase guest retention. The key is wowing guests who are making their first or second stay with Kimpton. Kimpton’s proprietary formula, enabled by Salesforce, automatically identifies guests who are prime candidates for conversion and alerts the property where they’re staying or dining.