In the past 18 months, HotelClub has completely re-branded, employing an all new management team and re-focusing the company’s strategy on member benefits and active international expansion.
HotelClub president Australia Nicolas Chu sat down with ETB News to discuss how the company has developed exponentially, achieving double-digit growth over the last financial year and discovering new ways to reward loyalty members.
Online booking has become somewhat of a commodity in recent times, therefore HotelClub felt it necessary to source an exclusive and unique value proposition for both its customers and suppliers.
“We repositioned the whole company around our Club Benefits,” Mr Chu said.
“We used to have a very strong loyalty program that allowed our members to have up to 7 percent back for every booking, which is quite an appealing concept within the space.”
After returning the company to a membership-driven business, the new management team set about expanding internationally at an aggressive pace, launching a multi-million dollar campaign in Australia and investing in advanced analytics with the assistance of holding company, Orbitz.
“It’s important to understand how you can – not control, but – be very good at the top of the funnel,” Mr Chu said.
“It’s not just about conversion, it’s about realising how you can leverage data to better understand what you’re doing through online marketing or aligned marketing.”
Considering the company’s re-invigorated membership strategy, consumer reaction was vital.
“We’re a club, so the first thing we did after we re-branded and re-designed the website was communicate with our millions of members all around the world to garner feedback,” Mr Chu said.
“We received a 94 percent approval rate, which was beyond our expectations.”
In terms of marketing and exposure, the company’s vision was to build a community, so it wouldn’t make sense if there wasn’t a social component – HotelClub utilises Facebook, Twitter and other international social media platforms to engage with members and prospective consumers.
HotelClub also plans to launch in China later this year, with offices in Shanghai and Beijing and staff on the ground; working with hoteliers to develop contracts and enhance opportunities.
“The aim is to provide Chinese consumers with a fully functional website where they can make direct bookings and reap the benefits of our extensive rewards program,” Mr Chu said.
HotelClub Benefits are not generic but market-specific, depending on what’s more attractive to each member in their corner of the world.
“We offer discounts, free wi-fi, upgrades, kids stay free options, complimentary breakfasts and we’re still adding more rewards,” Mr Chu said.
“However, we’re beginning to go beyond just rewards or perks, adding experiences online and offline for our members; such as investing in a dedicated 24/7 call centre, which is especially important for customers in Asia who may still be somewhat hesitant when it comes to outbound travel and security.”
HotelClub is free to join and now boasts five million members worldwide.