Choice Hotels is making a push to lure more business and millennial-generation travelers. The company is growing its more upscale Cambria and Ascend Collection brands and investing in upgrades to Comfort Inn.
Its loyalty program, known as Choice Privileges, is at the heart of attracting and retaining such customers. The Rockville-based company is searching for someone to expand and innovate this offering.
Greg Brown, vice president of loyalty, promotions and relationship marketing, chatted with Capital Business about the opening for a director of loyalty strategy.
How does the director lead the charge on loyalty?
The director of strategy is focused on design of the program, with three objectives: Number one, member acquisition. We recently passed our 20 million member mark; just six or seven years ago, we only had 5 million members. So growth is a really important task.
The second big focus is on retention, ensuring that you’re making sure doing business with us is more rewarding [than doing it] with other companies. Design the features and benefits of how the program works and how real-time the rewards are.
Like most programs, you can redeem your points for, in our case, free nights at our hotels. But we have other ways you can reward yourself, including gift cards that take a while to be mailed. We’re working right now on having a digital gift card so you can have instant gratification. So that’s an example of a project that this person would either have conceived of or lead.
The third piece is all about innovation, to think about ways in which loyalty can help our company achieve other goals.
What kind of experience and skills are you seeking?
I think of it in three buckets. Because this is a guest-facing program, they’ve got to have marketing experience. A finance background is also helpful because ultimately we’re running a business. We have to manage the money that we generate against the cost.
The third piece is someone who’s got a pretty strong leadership capability.
How’s the recruitment process been? Does having hospitality giants like Marriott and Hilton in this region make it easier or harder to find talent?
It’s been an interesting one. We’ve had good candidates that have surfaced, but quite frankly, they haven’t been able to check all three boxes. So maybe they’ve got marketing and they’re a good leader, but they just didn’t quite have the analytics background. The loyalty area is strategically important for our company, it’s vitally important for the success of our hotels, so we’re setting the bar pretty high. To date, we’ve found some good candidates, but we’re looking for a great candidate.