Features

Rethinking transport for guests

Travellers always need to get from A to B; properties are not just making that easier, but doing so in a way which supports brand awareness, loyalty and core messaging.

Be it taxi apps partnering with hotels or bespoke boats at an Italian lakeside resort, the hospitality world is increasingly seeing properties partnering with transport providers in order to enhance the guest experience.

But while the trend is widespread, what differs are the motivations and benefits – for both host and guest – in each instance.

Extending reach into client’s everyday lives

When it comes to Hilton’s recent partnership with ride-service provider Lyft, the emphasis is on improving guests’ life even at home – and thereby generating improved brand consciousness. Within the scheme, Hilton Honors members earn points every single time they ride with Lyft. The points gained are redeemable across Hilton’s 17 brands; later in 2019, they will also be usable as Lyft credits, too.

“We hear feedback from members that they want to earn points outside of their hotel stay; this tie-up enables them to do so,” describes David Black, the firm’s Senior Director of Partnerships.

With travel a sector in which customers needn’t engage with providers on an everyday or even weekly basis, the scheme also allows Hilton to make regular, constant connections. There’s the promise of financial gain, too – while Honors members may accrue enough points for a free stay, that doesn’t preclude them spending on, say, F&B options inside the hotel.

Lyft isn’t alone in entering the hotel sector; Uber’s Developer pages list solutions for properties looking to integrate Ride Requests to their apps or website.

More miles, more points

Hyatt’s new alliance with American Airlines, meanwhile, allows elite-status members of the World of Hyatt and AAdvantage programmes to earn bonus AA miles or Hyatt hotel points respectively. That helps both brands to send customers to the other while satisfying customer demand.

“We’ve spent a lot of time talking with our elite members about what they want out of our programme,” reveals Amy Weinberg, World of Hyatt’s senior VP. “And we’ve heard, time and again, that it is more ways to earn miles and points – for more rewarding experiences beyond the hotel stay, and by extending care throughout the travel journey.”

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Man riding a bike

Photo: credit to Viktor Kern, Unsplash

“Since launching the collaboration,” she continues, “feedback has been very positive.” In particular, Weinberg says, members appreciate the ease of linking their accounts and seeing so many points and miles accrued so quickly.

Other hotel-airline coalitions have taken a foodie direction. Singapore Airlines, for instance, in a joint-venture with COMO Hotels & Resorts, will offer the COMO Shambhala brand’s wellness cuisine on selected flights later this year.

Eco-convenience

For single hotels or small groups, teaming up with transport providers in order to offer loyalty points doesn’t make sense.

The gain for trendy Purohotel Palma in Mallorca’s capital is rather to reiterate core messages and facilitate guests’ stay. Last November, the boutique debuted a fleet of eco-friendly electric mopeds, Emotos, for guests to discover the island’s deserted beach coves and local restaurants.

The essence here is more on leisure than necessity; while exploration of Mallorca isn’t a fundamental like flights or hotel transfers, it is likely to be on most guests’ agenda. Purohotel makes that easy, all while championing its own brand message of sustainability.

“For convenience, guests can book the Emotos direct at reception and don´t need to go to a shop to collect,” outlines sales coordinator, Anne Van der Laan. “We want to show that island transport can be fun and environmentally sustainable at the same time.”

There is also an intent to promote low-season travel – with the mopeds only available in winter when Mallorca is freer of tourists – and thus to invigorate quiet booking periods.

Unusual efforts

Further south in Rotterdam, water taxis are often the best way to navigate the port city and its various islands. In another example of hotels embracing local transport options with the guest in mind, the Mainport Design Hotel and Suitehotel Pincoffs have their own docks to make it ultra-easy for guests to travel about.

“We’ve noticed a palpable increase in bookings,” confirms Linda van den Berg, Director of Sales at the Mainport. To further aid that, she says, they worked with several other Rotterdam businesses boasting docks to create an easy package with water-taxi passes, making life easy for guests.


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Speaking of boats, Il Sereno, an opulent hotel on Lake Como, commissioned revered shipyard Cantiere Ernesto Riva to build three bespoke, beautifully-varnished motorboats for guests to rent (one with Patricia Urquiola interiors); this year it added a larger water limousine serving, effectively, as a low-cost Il Sereno ‘ferry’ shuttle to various lakeside locations and restaurants. Electric boats are due next.

“From the beginning, a dock was conceived as an integral part of the hotel,” explains owner Luis Contreras, “due to the importance of our guests having direct access to the lake. These were very large investments, but with hindsight, there is no question that it was the right decision; our low-cost shuttle service has been a particular success.”

Once more, the stress is on improving the guest experience – giving visitors more incentive to book into the relevant hotel via a near-essential product that can be upsold to them. Transport is part of travel life, so property owners might as well embrace it and, if possible, leverage more loyalty from guests while so doing.

Hero image: credit to Why Kei, Unsplash

Takeaway
  • Partnerships with a ride-service provider can allow hotels to engage with guests on an everyday basis, away from vacations
  • Hotel and airline tie-ups allow for schemes in which travellers mutually gain air miles and loyalty points, meaning the brands send customers to one another
  • Providing a themed mode of transport allows a hotel to promote its core message as well as improve the guest experience
  • Waterside hotels providing or facilitating boat-based transport options can help guests travel around or explore, and upsell packages and product

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