To borrow a lexiconic phrase from the world of college basketball, in the hospitality world, companies have to focus on the customer experience to “survive and advance.”

For Preferred Hotels officials, they view customer experience as the No.1 focal point that attracts and retains consumers to the brand.

Loyalty360 spoke with Michelle Woodley, executive vice president, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, to learn more about the company’s view on customer experience.

“We launched the iPrefer points-based loyalty program in 2013 to better meet the needs of the independent hotel guest,” Woodley explained. “It is now the world’s largest points-based program for global independent hotels. We continue to make enhancements to the program and evaluate the member benefits to ensure we are creating a memorable customer experience throughout our portfolio of over 600 hotels around the world. We are also hyper-focused on the customer experience on our website through web personalization tools, which allows us to serve unique content based on visitors’ behavior, demographics, and geolocation. Through research, we understand that if a page takes more than three seconds to load, a potential customer is more likely to go to another website or leave entirely, so we are also developing accelerated mobile pages (AMP) for optimal load times on our website–thus enhancing the overall customer experience with our brand.”

Preferred Hotels & Resorts regards customer engagement as a crucial component of its business.

“As a hospitality brand, customer engagement and feedback is extremely important to continually improve the services we provide to our guests and member hotels,” Woodley added. “We want customers to feel like they can reach out to our brand from the minute they are dreaming about their next fun trip or need a great hotel for business, book a hotel stay, check out from their room, share their experience and make the decision to book another stay with us. To achieve this level of engagement, we are continually monitoring feedback, ensuring guests can reach us at any time and have developed an engaged membership database through the iPrefer hotel rewards program. Our team is dedicated to consistent communication across digital channels such as email and social media, live channels like our call centers and click to chat, and printed collateral such as brochures and the Preferred Travel magazine.”

Leveraging mobile is another high-level area of focus connected to the overall customer experience.

“Preferred Hotels & Resorts recognizes the important of mobile, and in response, we developed a native app that launched in April to create an easy, one-stop-shop to manage all iPrefer touch points, benefits, and bookings,” Woodley said. “We also have on-property specific modules within the app that allow guests to interact with hotels during their stay, including the ability to chat with a hotel representative and order on-site amenities directly within the app. We’ve seen an amazing lift in member engagement through this channel since the launch, with over 9,000 downloads and over 300 bookings made in-app to date.”

What’s more, Preferred Hotels & Resorts will debut a new website by the end of the year, designed with a mobile-first strategy that streamlines the user experience with a clean, responsive design.

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