Hotel Loyalty Program Calls It Quits

Loews hotels is shutting down their loyalty program December 6. The Loews chain is comprised of 24 hotels in the U.S. and Canada.

They say that “YouFirst isn’t enticing or relevant” and that set benefits don’t meet guest needs and they’ll continue to recognize their best guests without a formal program.

Here’s the benefit table that goes away December 7:

Somewhat oddly they were status matching as recently as last month, though perhaps that’s not so strange since air berlin topbonus was status matching even after air berlin itself had shut down.

This is hardly the first hotel chain to shut down its loyalty program. Holiday Inn launched the first hotel loyalty program at the start of 1983 and called it Priority Club. They shut down the program in 1986 because they were simply losing too much money on it. 75 stays was enough for two tickets to Europe, a week in Paris, and a free week’s car rental. Priority Club was eventually relaunched, but that’s why Marriott – which launched Honored Guest later in 1983 – is able to lay claim to being the oldest continuously operated hotel loyalty program.

Ultimately loyalty programs aren’t just rebates. And they aren’t just a structured way to provide better experiences to top customers, solving the challenge of how to ensure a given front desk clerk at an individual property recognizes guests the way the company values that guest.

They’re a targeted, data rich permission-based marketing play, and they’re a way to keep customers coming back with defined goals to hit.

It’s tough to be a 24 hotel chain when Marriott has 6000 properties. It’s tough for Hyatt with over 600 hotels. They may find they’re better off participating in a coalition loyalty program, and ideally selling out to (or, if they want to retain the real estate play reflagging as) a larger brand.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I tried to join the Loews program while checking into the Loews Cherry Creek in Denver before it became a Hyatt, the desk clerk wouldn’t let me.

    – its not very good, you won’t like it
    – really, it is not worth it
    – we have no more forms anymore because everyone dislikes it
    – they have stopped taking new members

    Were some of the excuses he threw at me. I found it really odd.

  2. I have been following Loews stock for a long time.

    These guys absolutely should sell this hotel chain to Hyatt or someone and take the proceeds and buy in a bunch of stock. It really does not fit with their oil/pipeline/insurance assets.

    Huge value in that company waiting to be unlocked. Market cap is probably about 35% under the value of assets/stockholdings/cash.

    Warren Buffett should swallow the thing and dismember it.

  3. I was a Platinum member and earned huge benefits like free WiFi and an upgrade to a superior room with late checkout when it was convenient for them
    A special heartfelt welcome letter and a golf credit
    Eat your hearts out 😉

  4. The Tisch family keeps Loews Hotels for sentimental reasons, as it was the original business of Loews Corporation (prior to its ventures into insurance, tobacco, CBS, etc.) I agree with @toomanybooks that Loews is ripe for the Buffett treatment.

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