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Travel Goes Digital

Traveling during COVID-19 has not been easy, and in some instances, simply impossible. But some brands are innovating to make your travel experience more seamless and COVID-19 safe.

Cape Town tourism CEO, Enver Duminy has admittedly had an extremely tough few months getting to grip with the continued aftermath of COVID-19. He is quoted as saying: “All in all the tourism sector has been completely decimated and for me as CEO of the organisation responsible for promoting the market and looking after the sector it has been extremely difficult because this has been uncharted waters.”

But, Duminy and other’s in the industry are resolute when they agree that local travel is now more important than ever to get the sector bouncing back.

Volker Heiden, Area Vice President Sub-Saharan Africa, Marriott International says: “The pandemic has made travel bookings a much bigger decision – consumers will be looking for the maximum value – both in monetary terms but also in terms of the experience for them – what they get out of a holiday personally. For us to give guests a sense of recognition, added value and welcome will become even more important.”

Innovation is key

Neal Jones, chief sales and marketing officer, Marriott International, Europe, Middle East and Africa says that the pandemic has accelerated the trend of digitalisation in the travel sector. “Digital platforms, which have long been the preferred source of content and commerce for Millennials and Gen-Z, will increasingly become a source of both inspiration and sales embraced by all generations.”

It’s partly for this reason that the Marriott Bonvoy enhanced their mobile app. “It’s a must-have travel companion. It simplifies the travel planning process, allows for a frictionless experience before and during your stay and gets smarter the more you interact with it,” Jones says.

Why innovation and loyalty go hand-in-hand

In Oracle’s The Ultimate Guide to Omnichannel Loyalty (2021), they explain that at the heart of changing expectations remains a constant: customer interactions with loyalty programs are value-driven. “The definition of that value, however, has evolved from traditional ‘spend and get’ programs to earning for every interaction—regardless of channel—with the brand. Today, customers want to earn points for every single purchase they make, no matter where the transaction takes place or how they pay. They expect to be rewarded for sharing personal information with a brand and for engaging with a brand. They prefer personalized communications and access to relevant rewards. They no longer want a free item for every ten purchased. Instead, they would rather have access to rewards money can’t buy or rewards that make them feel like a valued customer. And they want the entire experience to be integrated and seamless.”

They go to say that omnichannel loyalty programmes need to provide members with convenience, relevance, and value. And this is at the core of what the Marriot Bonvoy travel programme offers: “The Marriott Bonvoy mobile app offers travellers access to so much, whether it is the breadth of our global portfolio of 7 500 hotels among our 30 brands or home rentals, to destination experiences and customisable content for travel inspiration. Through tailored offers, members can learn how to earn hundreds of thousands of points just by booking stays, booking a StayPass to work from a hotel or going about their daily lives,” Jones adds.

Heiden adds: “Rewarding our most regular, most valued guests underpins everything we do – and this will become ever more important for us and for our guests as travel returns.”

So just what does an innovative omnichannel loyalty programme offer?

Well, the newly redesigned Marriot Bonvoy mobile app now offers:

  1. New Shopping and Booking Options: Homes & Villas by Marriott International home rentals, Work Anywhere with Marriott Bonvoy Day, Stay and Play passes (select destinations) and Marriott Bonvoy Tours & Activities are all now available through in-app browsing. By booking via the app, guests are guaranteed the lowest rate available and is one of the ways members can earn points and receive on-property benefits during stays.
  2. More customisation during the stay: Improvements and additions to mobile requests and mobile key enable members to get more from their experience and choose to minimise contact and better maintain social distance.
  • Mobile Key, available at over 4000 properties, is now accessible on the home screen once checked in.
  • Mobile Requests now contains more one-touch-buttons so users can order a cot, along with bath towels, pillows, bath products and more, as well as the ability to chat directly with hotel staff.
  1. Easier ways for members to earn points: Members can capitalise on points promotions relevant to them on the home screen and their account page,
  2. Updated searching and booking with a new, dynamic map: Users can search and book accommodations by hotel brand, destination, price or points needed for a free night’s stay.
  3. More improvements for the frequent app users:
  • Updated Marriott Bonvoy account profile page highlighting personalised promotions, on-property benefits to take advantage of during stays and full account activity.
  • Member numbers can be copied and pasted onto other web-based forms.
  • FaceID and TouchID automatically engages after the first login.
  • Room numbers will now appear on the home screen.

Where can you stay in Mzansi?

  • African Pride – Irene Country Lodge , Irene, Gauteng
  • Protea Hotel by Marriott, Kruger Gate
  • Protea Hotel Fire & Ice by Marriot, Durban, uMhlanga
  • Protea Hotel by Marriott, Stellenbosch
  • The Westin Cape Town

Scan to book your next SA hotel stay with Marriott:

The Westin Cape Town

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