Saturday, September 07, 2019

Unintended Consequences

Ironically, a company’s loyalty programs, presumably intended to promote customer loyalty, may cause the opposite.

Of the numerous hotels I’ve stayed in during my career, I’ve had a preference for the Hilton brand. Not sure why, but if I had a choice and the rate was reasonable, I’d generally pick Hilton. Marriott was second on my list, judging by the points I accumulated with both chains.

Five years ago, I switched jobs. In my current role, I don’t travel as often, and I work with a group of loyal Marriott customers. If I’m traveling with any of them, I usually end up in a Marriott brand hotel room.

Several months ago, I received an email from Hilton saying if I didn’t stay at one of their brands within a few months, I would lose my remaining points. Was that a marketing policy to encourage room nights or an accounting policy to reduce liabilities on the balance sheet? Nonetheless, I didn’t have a business or personal reason to book myself into a Hilton, other than doing so to save my points.

I’ve done the airline mileage run a few times to maintain status, but that was years ago. I’m past the age where airline or hotel status means that much to me.

So I let the Hilton points expire.

I still have a healthy balance of Marriott points and every reason to maintain my  presence at Marriott, as those points will yield free room nights one of these days.

With zero points at Hilton, there’s no reason for me to be loyal — no more or less than any chain other than Marriott.

Hilton saved a few points and lost a long-time customer. I wonder if that’s what they wanted.