Company: Best Western International
Initiative: Status Match...No Catch® (Travel/Hospitality – North America)
Following several years of economic downturn in the hospitality sector, in early 2010 multiple hotel
brands, including Hilton, began to devalue the points within their elite loyalty programs in an effort to
shave corporate costs. Examining the economic landscape and the impact these reductions would have
for the already cash-strapped consumer, Best Western hoteliers and brand staff elected to not only
maintain the current points system within the brand’s global loyalty program but to institute an innovative
initiative to help all travelers take advantage of Best Western Rewards.
Best Western had been offering to match elite status in other programs but it was not widely advertised
and was done on request if customers asked about it. The formalization of this incentive allowed the
hotelier to place a focus on this incentive, creating a standout piece among the competing hotel
programs. The final piece was a catchy name.
The Status Match...No Catch® program encourages members of other hotel loyalty programs to join Best
Western Rewards and automatically attain the elite status they worked so hard to earn with a competing
hotel brand - effectively eliminating the entry barrier that is inherent in any frequency based rewards
system. This initiative opened the door for new Best Western Rewards members to take advantage of
one of the most generous rewards programs in the industry, as Best Western Rewards members can earn
and redeem points at 4,000 properties worldwide with no blackout dates. It also helped strengthen Best
Western’s position within the industry as a brand that offers tremendous value to all travelers, particularly
in trying economic times.
Best Western’s Member hoteliers believe all travelers should experience the hospitality offered by the
World’s Biggest Hotel Family(SM), not only at the accommodation and service levels, but in the rewards it
offers regular patrons for their loyalty. The goal of Status Match...No Catch was to grow the Elite base
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and allow them to experience the benefits of Best Western Rewards, one of strongest, yet comparatively
unknown programs in the current loyalty rewards marketplace. The brand set out to create an integrated
marketing campaign that would make travelers question the benefits offered through other hotel loyalty
programs and look to Best Western as a preferable alternative.
Understanding the barriers these customers faced in switching loyalty programs, Best Western was
determined to find a way for travelers to join their loyalty program at no cost to the traveler, while also
ensuring that the travelers maintained their Elite status that they worked so hard to achieve. Long the
king of leisure, Best Western also sought to further establish itself as a player in the business travel
segment, a process which also was recently and greatly furthered by the introduction of the BEST
WESTERN, BEST WESTERN PLUS and BEST WESTERN PREMIER categorizations.
In March 2010, when several other hotel brands announced a devaluing in their rewards program, Best
Western introduced its Status Match...No Catch program - becoming the first hotel chain to package and
promote such a program. Frequent travelers could then instantly take advantage of the superior loyalty
benefits offered by Best Western Rewards, including the best available rooms, early check-in/late checkout,
up to 30 percent more points with each stay, dedicated customer service, a welcome gift or 250
bonus points with every stay, and much more. Best Western also made a substantial push to educate
potential Rewards members and travelers about the program, instituting a national marketing campaign,
public relations push, direct marketing, and outreach by the properties and their sales teams, all designed
to highlight how easy it is to switch.
The first two months after the launch of Status Match...No Catch, more than 2,400 travelers took
advantage of the opportunity to join Best Western Rewards and enjoy the benefits of the brand’s elite
status. Of those, nearly a quarter stayed at a Best Western hotel immediately after joining Best Western
Rewards. Since the program’s inception in March, 2010, Status Match...No Catch has generated close to
5,000 additional new Best Western Rewards members and led to 37,000 room nights and $3.4M in
revenue. The program was also hailed by the media: Status Match...No Catch has been covered by
USAToday.com’s "Hotel Check-In" Blog, Webflyer, Hotel Chatter, Smarter Travel, HOTELS,
HotelInteractive.com and many other leading travel outlets.
LEVERAGING THE LEARNING
The success of this initiative has encouraged Best Western to continue to improve Best Western Rewards
and make it the best program of its kind available to travelers. It has discovered the touch points of
strong customer service and the value of exclusivity that customers desire in a program. The company
will leverage the understanding of how and why customers change loyalty programs to help drive future
programs and campaigns that will continue to distinguish Best Western Rewards from the competition. In
addition, Best Western will continue to mine its deep bench of benefits in order to call out areas of
significant value that may merit greater awareness. For the hotel properties, the program represents
increased revenue streams as a loyal customer base is built from guests from other existing programs.
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