industry: Hospitality
Use Case: Improved Brand Loyalty

RLH Automates Guest Rewards Programs to Improve Brand Loyalty

Seamless integration between Act-On and Microsoft Dynamics aligns Sales and Marketing and enables targeted messaging, unique branding, and customized communications

Company:
Customer:

Whitney Swales

VP, Guest Recognition/Loyalty, Marketing Promotions

Success By the Numbers

60
%

above-average email open rates on automated guest reservations and loyalty marketing campaigns

20

hours per month saved of manual design work on branded templates

Realized Business Value

  • Automating welcome, loyalty, and transactional campaigns to guests at 1,000 unique properties across 8 unique brands
  • Above-average email open rates across multiple campaign types
    • Welcome triggered emails – 48%
    • All Loyalty Program triggered emails – 37%
    • Transactional emails – 43%
  • Microsoft Dynamics integration aligns Sales and Marketing
  • Granular guest insights improve engagement, number of stays, and premium experiences

Pain Points

  • Struggling to scale process for welcome, loyalty, and transactional marketing programs
  • Difficulty delivering targeted messaging to unique brands, franchisees, and customer types
  • Disparate systems causing internal communication breakdowns and inconsistent messaging and branding
  • Incomplete and inaccurate reporting posing challenges to measuring engagement and efficacy

Red Lion Hotel Corporation

Red Lion Hotel Corporation is an innovative hotel company doing business as RLH Corporation and focuses on the franchising, management, and ownership of upscale, midscale and economy hotels. The company focuses on maximizing return on invested capital for hotel owners across North America through relevant brands, industry-leading technology, and forward-thinking services.

Executive Summary

Red Lion Hotels (RLH Corporation) is using Act-On to deliver high-performing automated programs that provide customers with exciting and scalable welcome experiences. In addition, they are using the platform to develop and execute loyalty and rewards programs that help secure repeat stays and guest advocacy at more than 1,000 hotels across eight affiliate brands. All of these messages are based on advanced segmentation that allows RLH to deliver highly targeted and relevant messages that cut through the noise of the inbox, avoid the spam filter, and deliver real value to their clientele. By executing these strategies through Act-On, RLH has been able to achieve consistent and reliable deliverability vs. the previous platform, increased open and click thru rates.

“From the start, Act-On worked to support and accommodate our marketing communications to guests, internal communications with franchisees, and transactional emails sent immediately after booking a reservation. Act-On was not only capable of meeting our needs, but the team was also committed to supporting us with each step in the process.”

Whitney Swales, VP, Guest Recognition/Loyalty, Marketing Promotions

Challenge

As a hospitality brand that facilitates owning and managing a wide range of economy to upscale properties for hotel owners, RLH needed to automate and improve their welcome and guest communications, as well as their brand loyalty initiatives. These marketing efforts are especially important in the hotel industry because ensuring repeat and loyal customers is the key to sustained and accelerated growth.

To achieve this, RLH needed a growth marketing automation platform that allowed them to meet complex guest messaging needs based on multiple system integrations across the 8 franchised hotel brands including marketing, loyalty and reservation transactions. They also needed to tailor their communications according to a multitude of criteria — including franchisee, brand, property type, clientele personas, regions, etc. 

Prior to implementing Act-On, RLH was attempting to execute all internal and guest communications through an ineffective hospitality-specific CRM. This disconnected and fragile MarTech stack required intensive manual labor and hampered RLH from delivering segmented campaigns with targeted messaging and branding consistent with each of their franchised hotels. 

After reviewing solutions from Act-On, ClickDimensions, and Marketo, the RLH team chose Act-On as the clear leader due to the platform’s ease of use and ability to send timely transactional emails. They were also eager to bring their CRM capabilities in-house, so they were excited about Act-On’s powerful CRM integration with Microsoft Dynamics. 

Features Leveraged

  • Automated Programs
  • Advanced Segmentation
  • Native CRM integration with Microsoft Dynamics
  • Custom Templates
  • Landing Page Builder
  • A/B Testing
  • Transactional Emails

Approach

RLH is responsible for coordinating quality and consistent internal communications to its more than 1,000 franchised hotels, as well as delivering compelling guest communications to millions of hotel guests annually — which is a key aspect of ensuring repeat guests in the hospitality industry. In order to execute these myriad initiatives successfully, Whitney Swales (VP of Guest Recognition/Loyalty, Marketing Promotions) and her team leverage Act-On’s advanced segmentation and conditional logic to develop and send transactional, welcome, and loyalty campaigns that produce extraordinary high-touch guest experiences throughout the customer lifecycle.

Approach

RLH is responsible for coordinating quality and consistent internal communications to its more than 1,000 franchised hotels, as well as delivering compelling guest communications to millions of hotel guests annually — which is a key aspect of ensuring repeat guests in the hospitality industry. In order to execute these myriad initiatives successfully, Whitney Swales (VP of Guest Recognition/Loyalty, Marketing Promotions) and her team leverage Act-On’s advanced segmentation and conditional logic to develop and send transactional, welcome, and loyalty campaigns that produce extraordinary high-touch guest experiences throughout the customer lifecycle.

Customer Spotlight: Creating Customer Experiences That Matter

Welcome Emails Generate Excitement and Drive Improved Guest Experience

The team at RLH recognizes the need to deliver timely and appropriate communications whenever a guest books a reservation with any RLH branded hotels. These messages need to be direct, helpful, and on-brand to ensure that they remain top of mind with their guests and that their customers feel a genuine connection with RLH throughout their entire customer journey. Most importantly, they need to excite guests about their upcoming stay and introduce them to Hello Rewards (RLH’s customer loyalty program). 

Whitney and her team segment these automated transactional programs according to which hotel the guest is booking with and the date of their stay. In doing so, they are able to accelerate the speed of delivery, which vastly improves the customer experience and helps endear their guests to the brand. 

RLH Corporation has eight distinct hotel brands, each with their separate branding, so RLH has created unique email templates to solve for the design and messaging complexities of ensuring consistency throughout their organization. These templates create time-saving efficiencies that have resulted in 20 hours of manual design work saved each month. 

Most importantly, the emails themselves generate positive guest anticipation and encourage enrollment in Hello Rewards. 

Loyalty Programs Encourage Repeat Visits

After delivering the initial transactional email within a matter of minutes to verify an upcoming stay, RLH sends personalized follow-up emails through Act-On to their franchisees’ guests. These are designed to improve brand engagement and further encourage enrollment in the Hello Rewards program. Ostensibly, these emails serve as a reminder to each guest of their upcoming stay, but they also introduce Hello Bucks — the currency RLH uses to power their loyalty program and incentivize guests to further engage with the brand. 

“Act-On allows us to execute all of our segmentation strategies for customer communications,” said Whitney. “For example, we’re able to group our Hello Rewards customers based on their upcoming stay, their Hello Rewards status, where they are staying, and which amenities are available at their hotel of choice.” RLH has set up their instance of Act-On to automatically send these emails based on their advanced segmentation strategies for an extremely personalized guest experience

Whenever a customer takes actions that elevate their guest status (such as booking a new reservation or redeeming Hello Bucks), RLH enhances the experience by immediately delivering an automated email informing them that they’ve been awarded additional rewards. Further, RLH sends loyalty emails through Act-On to periodically remind guests to redeem their Hello Bucks and when their virtual currency is set to expire, thus improving their stay and helping to ensure repeat stays. 

Building upon the automated communications strategy, RLH created a birthday campaign as part of RLH’s larger Hello Rewards program. It relies on Act-On’s integration with Microsoft Dynamics to alert the system whenever a guest has an upcoming birthday and triggers an automated email with a special Hello Bucks birthday reward. This program further endears RLH’s guests to their brand and encourages repeat stays.

RLH Develops and Delivers Compelling Communications

Act-On empowers RLH to develop and deliver compelling outbound communications to all of its guests and franchisees through advanced segmentation. As the engine behind their Hello Rewards loyalty program, Act-On is the vehicle through which RLH has been able to achieve email engagement rates between 45-60% since implementing the marketing automation platform.

Additionally, the ability to create branded, templated emails and outbound automation has increased efficiencies, resulting in a decrease of 20 hours of manual labor spent each month. Said Whitney, “The goal is to make the overall guest experience as seamless as possible, and Act-On enables us to deliver that experience with minimal effort and fantastic results!”

The RLH team is still realizing the immense marketing potential of Act-On and plans to leverage additional Act-On features to improve their holistic strategies. On the shortlist is gathering and interpreting additional advanced metrics such as: 

  • Revenue attribution to accurately gauge revenue performance from each campaign
  • New member acquisition conversion (those who stay upon joining as a percentage of total activated accounts) 
  • Repeat stays from existing or lapsed guests

Leveraging these additional features will then also help to improve their segmentation, messaging, and deliverability across each of their individual brands.

According to Whitney, “There’s so much flexibility with the Act-On platform, and I’m so excited to unlock every feature the technology has to offer to maximize our branding, messaging, and return on investment!”

Customer Spotlight: Creating Customer Experiences That Matter