Tugging on sentiments: customer acquistion and retention via emotion

The latest issue of Colloquy, the leader in eclectic research and ideas on loyalty, leads with a piece headlined "Loyalty is an emotion".  The publication backs up the assertion with examples from three leaders in their respective industries: Kimpton Hotels, Neiman-Marcus and Louis Vuitton.

The article starts off by noting that " while loyalty programs inspire their members primarily through discounts and perks, luxury brands are defined by scarcity and intangible benefits – and sometimes without loyalty programs" 

Colloquy contributor and  luxury expert Steven Dennis  goes on to explore the emotional connections between brands and their core consumers by underscoring that "loyalty has less to do with the size of the wallet as it does the depth of the connection." By way of example Dennis notes how he values his American Advantage program for its seat upgrades but would readily trade it for a better program from another airline but for the fact that his "hub" Dallas has no other offerings.

Kimpton Hotels' delightfully named Karma Rewards programs comes in for high praise as they "not only offer strong economic incentives and tangible perks, but do a better job of tying the features of the program to the overall essence of the brand." Further, they "deliver experiences that are often highly personalized and more consistent with their best customers’ lifestyles."

Another example high up on the emotional loyalty totem pole is car maker Tesla whose car is  both literally and metaphorically electric.  According to a review in an oddly named local California daily weekendsantacruz.com the car maker is  "associated with a generation of drivers who want something that appeals to their particular beliefs" one of which is a penchant for alternative energy forms and an abhorrence for fossil fuels. That the latter likely is the case can be inferred from an example from the other end of the environmental scale: riders of the considerably more inefficient and noisier Harley Davidson motorcycle are just as doggedly loyal to their brand as Tesla owners are to theirs.

A major hotel brand that has been on the same or similar emotional wavelengths of its customers is IHG which has used Beyond Philosophy, a leading firm in the customer experience space,  to provide for a better guest experience.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.