Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, Shashi has taken a bold step, diverging from the conventional path of hotel loyalty programs. Shashi’s unique approach cuts through the clutter, offering guests not just a place to stay, but a direct financial incentive to remain loyal.
Typically, hotel loyalty programs are synonymous with points – a currency of sorts that promises future rewards and benefits. Shashi, however, has chosen to tread a different path. By introducing Shashi Cash, the hotel directly offers guests 5% cash back on room reservations booked directly year-round, with an enticing 10% cash back from July to December 31, 2023.
The process is straightforward and user-friendly. Guests simply link their bank account, PayPal, or Venmo, sign up through the Shashi loyalty program app, and upon checkout, see funds instantly deposited into their account. To put it in perspective, a $2,500 weeklong stay translates to a substantial $250 cash reward – directly in the guest’s account, regardless of whether the stay was for business or leisure.
Shashi is not playing the long game of accumulating points for future redemptions; they are providing instant gratification. By directly depositing cash into guests’ accounts, Shashi is building a loyalty program that speaks the language of today’s tech-savvy Silicon Valley professionals. In a recent real-world test, funds were transferred promptly upon checkout, showcasing the program’s efficiency and effectiveness. This approach is turning some heads in the hospitality industry, proving that sometimes, the direct route is the most effective.
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Available as a mobile app, the tour showcases an interactive map with tips and content created by Ramirez, aka @nany.
Developed as part of the Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty program, the walking tour can be purchased and downloaded according to the size of the group, ranging in price from $59 for 1 to 4 guests up to $159 for 9 to 12 guests. Additionally, it includes “$200 in perks” per person “to experience the best food, photo opportunities, and culture” across the city’s South Beach, Design District, Wynwood, and Little Havana neighborhoods.
Some of the experiences included on the city tour:
Browse Baccarat’s beautiful and colorful crystal and enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne at the BBar and Lounge.
The Museum of Graffiti in Wynwood, featuring indoor and outdoor exhibitions, with colorful murals by artists from around the globe, with a 25% discount on ticket price.
Havana 1957, an authentic Cuban restaurant on Ocean Drive for a complimentary traditional mojito with the purchase of an entree.
The tour is meant to give guests “another way to experience the power of travel,” according to a Marriott Bonvoy spokesperson who confirmed there are no plans to roll out similar standalone app experiences for any other popular cities at this point.
Marriott Bonvoy has the most hotel loyalty program members, at about 180 million. The program has looked to create immediately accessible experiences for its members, having recently launched its Marriott Bonvoy One Point Moments in June.
Buying a share in a company typically involves hoping the stock price rises over time and maybe means sharing in dividends. But Selina, an upstart hospitality brand, said on Wednesday it has a new enticement for people to buy its stock — discounts and freebies at its properties.
“Today, investing extends beyond the balance sheet,” said co-founder and CEO Rafael Museri.
Selina shareholders will be able to enjoy upgrades at the company’s hostel-style lodging, discounts or free breakfasts at its restaurants, lake checkouts, access to co-working spaces, and “exclusive event invitations,” depending on a variety of factors via the Selina Shareholders Program.
Selina isn’t the only travel company to try this. Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have long offered onboard credit per stateroom on select sailings to confirmed shareholders. Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has for years let shareholders enjoy discounts at their hotels if they book through a private website available by emailing the company’s registrar with proof a person holds shares in certified form.
But Selina has innovated, making the process to verify that someone holds shares fully digital. The process appears to be more seamless than what other travel companies have offered.
On Selina’s investor page, shareholders can link their online, U.S.-based brokerage account for verification. Other eligibility requirements can be satisfied online, and bigger investors can enjoy bigger benefits. After vetting, the company aims to send shareholders access to benefits within five business days.
“We extend a special thank you to retail-focused investor relations agency, Equity Animal, along with our technology partner, Stakeholder Labs, for their collaboration in creating the Selina Members Club,” said Sam Khazary, executive vice president and global head of corporate development.
”The Selina Members Club is not only a strategic move to strengthen relationships with customers who are also shareholders,” Khazary said. “It also serves as an expression of gratitude for their steadfast support.”
Avianca Access differs, however, as it’s targeting corporate travelers only, who gain access to potentially cheaper travel without their employers having to commit to an annual quota.
There are four schemes: Access 10, for 1 to 10 travelers, which costs $10 a month or $96 a year; Access 25, for 11 to 25 travelers (at $25 a month); Access 50, for 26 to 50 travelers ($50 a month); and Access 100, for 51 to 100 travelers ($100 month.)
Employees can make unlimited date or hour changes without any penalty.
“I am happy to confirm that business-to-business-travel subscriptions are now a reality, and we have worked with Avianca to create the world’s first airline subscription program aimed at small and medium enterprises,” said Inaki Uriz, CEO of Caravelo.
The company added it had not yet been publicly launched by the airline, but has been operational since November 2022.
Would you like a luxury travel subscription from Inspirato with those Amina Muaddi Rosie 95MM Metallic Leather Slingback Pumps from Saks Fifth Avenue?
That could conceivably be a sales pitches as Inspirato entered into a strategic marketing partnership with Saks, which would have its Saks Stylists, online and in-store, try to sell Inspirato luxury travel subscriptions to clients. Consumers can choose to get matched with a stylist at Saks for fashion recommendations.
The two luxury companies plans to engage in a variety of cross-promotional efforts once the partnership kicks in sometime between April and June. Saks Stylists would receive training on Inspirato’s variety of travel subscription offerings, such as the combined Inspirato Pass and Club membership, which the company’s website says costs $2,550 per month.
Among elements of the partnership, Inspirato members will receive a pitch to apply for a SaksFirst Card, and they may qualify for status tier upgrades in the Saks loyalty program based on how much they spend with Inspirato. In turn, Saks customers would get access to incentives to buy Inspirato travel subscriptions.
The Inspirato announcement said Saks is its “exclusive luxury retail partner.”
The companies did not detail the financial details of their marketing partnership.
Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano on Tuesday toured the Evirma, the first sailing vessel in The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Capuano said in an interview that yacht-style cruises on the 623-foot Evrima — which hosts fewer than 300 people at a time — represent an important pillar of growth for the world’s largest hotel operator by pulling the levers of loyalty and luxury.
More than 70 percent of the bookings since the first October sailing has come from members of Marriott’s Bonvoy loyalty program, and the company sees the yachts as a way to fill in the matrix of interest in its program members.
“Luxury is a big part of the appeal of the Bonvoy program and a big driver of engagement with Bonvoy,” Capuano said.
Fares on the Evrima start at a minimum of $5,000 per person for a week and can rise beyond $25,000 per person.
About 70 percent of Evirma passengers have never been on the cruise before. So the offering is a way to leverage the Ritz Carlton brand name for additional spending from an existing customer base.
“It is core to our strategy to continue to look for ways to connect ourselves with our loyal customers throughout their travel journeys, whether you and I were talking about Marriott Homes and Villas or the launch of a mid-scale like City Express or the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection — they are all touchpoints that allow us to meet the needs of our consumers without ever looking outside the ecosystem,” Capuano said.
Yacht-style itineraries enable a more leisurely pace with more overnights in port than the typical large luxury cruise offers, plus the ability to access and explore smaller ports, such as Saint-Tropez, Ibiza, and St. Barts.
But playing in the luxury space has its perils. The more complex the product and the more high-touch the service, the more room there is for cost overruns. Spanish media have reported on financial filings from a shipyard claiming that the Evirma was budgeted at $300 million but cost twice as much.
Capuano said that the last few years brought a laundry list of “unusual challenges to owner economics,” with a mix of problems affecting supply chains. However, he said his company has long experience in executing luxury products well.
Marriott is the first of its hotel and resort peer companies to test the waters on yacht-style cruising, but three other companies in recent months — Four Seasons, Aman, and Orient Express — announced plans to offer luxurious yacht-style cruise lines.
More broadly, luxury is a key segment in Capuano’s vision for company growth.
“I continue to drive focus within the organization on luxury,” Capuano said. “Luxury represents about 10 percent of our global room inventory but about 20 percent of revenues through related fees. So from a purely economic perspective, the luxury portfolio and footprint are critically important.”
Marriott runs nearly 500 luxury hotels and resorts, with plans to open about 35 more luxury hotels this year out of a pipeline of roughly 200 properties.
“You can continue to see us make investments movements of dedicated capital to ensure that we maintain our significant lead in the luxury tier,” Capuano said. “We have a singularly unique portfolio in that we have a really compelling blend of classic luxury brands like Ritz Carlton and Saint Regis and emerging lifestyle luxury brands like Edition and W Hotels.”
“The strength of recovery reflects the impact of the new GHA Discovery loyalty program, NH joining the alliance and bullish travel sentiment,” the company said.
NH Hotels also opened its first hotel, NH Collection Dubai The Palm, earlier this month, while the NH Collection La Suite Hotel Dubai will launch in 2024.
Room revenue generated by the 23 million global members of the GHA Discovery loyalty program exceeded 2019 levels from mid-November onwards. Room nights sold surpassed pre-pandemic levels by the end of its fourth quarter.
Business travel still lags however. The percentage of revenue attributed to international stays stabilized at 70 percent, the same amount as 2019, and the alliance said demand patterns were “returning to the old normal though leisure travel now dominates.”
The top feeder markets in the fourth quarter were the U.S. delivering $43 million in room revenue followed by the UK ($28 million), Spain ($26 million), Germany ($24 million) and Australia ($19 million).
China, which used to lead in outbound traffic, came in sixth place. The alliance, which counts 40 independent hotels brands as members, said China could “bounce back to number one in 2023.”
Total revenue for 2022 was $1.4 billion, up 60 percent on 2021.
United Arab Emirates-headquartered Global Hotel Alliance has seen a strong post-pandemic travel rebound from its Asian properties, as well as a shift in travel behaviors.
Its hotels in Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand, reported growth in revenue of 535 percent and 345 percent respectively for the first nine months of this year, compared to the same period in 2021.
Total revenue generated by the 22 million members of its GHA Discovery loyalty program reached $900 million for the period, up 68 percent on 2021, and reaching 84 percent of pre-pandemic levels on a like- for-like basis.
August was also the alliance’s second strongest-performing month in its history.
More than 60 percent of GHA Discovery revenues came from international stays, with this proportion growing strongly over the summer months. The highest-spending international travelers came from the U.S. ($76 million), UK ($71m) and Germany ($60m).
The average length of stays across all markets globally increased further in the third quarter of 2022 versus the same period in 2021. Europe, for example, has a 64 percent increase. The average was 20 percent.
Business travel has fared less well. The average daily rate for corporate transactions went up by 27 percent In the first half of the year, compared to the 2021 first quarter, but international business travel lagged at 60 percent in the first half of 2022, but the company said it was expecting that figure to increase in the second half. However, Domestic business travel has recovered to 90 percent of 2019 levels.
“Leveraging the scale and range of Booking.com, the new Citi Travel provides an unmatched breadth of hotel reservation options,” the companies said in a joint statement. “With more than 1.4 million hotels available worldwide — ranging from boutiques to beloved chains — there is the right option for every budget, vacation type and preference.”