Independent hotel loyalty scheme Wanup says it is on track to tech its target of signing up 7,000 properties one year in from its launch.
The scheme, developed by the openers of Spanish hotel chain Catalonia Hotels, seeks to give smaller chains and independent hotels a flexible and easy to integrate loyalty scheme offering customers a variety of rewards across a diverse range of properties.
Brian Garvan, new regional director for northern Europe, said growth over the last 14 months was on track and it now has 800 hotels, representing 38,000 rooms, in the programme in Europe, where it is focussing its efforts. Wanup now has 800,000 customer members signed up and is operational in 15 international markets.
“It has grown very fast,” said Garvan. “We’re on track for growth expectations. The target is to grow to 7,000 properties. We do not want to take on properties in every market. We want to work with the top 20% of players in each market.”
Wanup offers loyalty customers a percentage of the value of a booking in ‘travel cash’ which can be spent on a menu of rewards like free parking or wifi, early check-in, later check-out and room upgrades based on a four tier membership scheme.
It aims to provide guests with a flexible loyalty scheme to suit all types of travel with rewards that are appropriate and can be redeemed immediately and without any restrictions.
“We are trying to bridge the gap between leisure, beach and corporate travel,” Garvan said.
“One of the challenges we found in a survey of hotel customers is dissatisfaction with existing programmes around complexity and difficulty in redeeming points and black out dates.
“We have a much simpler system based on travel cash that correlates with the currency members are using every day.
“We want to bring in independent hotels and small chains who can offer services to corporates but also beach and mountain locations where major chains cannot so easily bring properties on board. We are very much an easier programme to integrate.”
Wanup has developed two new solutions to aid customers sign ups. One is a Wi-Fi solution that captures guest information when they log in including how they booked, when they arrived, and what they did during their stay. This data can then be used for future communications with the guest and to bring them back through the hotel’s channel of choice.
The second initiative is a ‘happiness generator’ app which incentivises hotel staff to sign up guests by offering €O.50 or the equivalent on their local currency, travel cash in their own account. The same reward is also paid when that new member makes their first booking.
Wanup gives each new member €10 when they sign up as an incentive and hotel partners are targeted monthly with hitting 2.5 members per room which if achieved entitles them to a “sensibly reduced commission” on any future travel bookings through wanup.com.
Garvan said Wanup was working on some integration and connectivity projects that will see it broaden its range of hotels as it invests more heavily in direct member acquisition in coming months. Currently all 800,000 members have been signed up by hotel partners.
“The real value of loyalty for hotels is in mitigating the growth in distribution costs over the last two decades. Loyalty is so widely applied in B2C these days and hotels are investing heavily in it. It’s difficult for smaller groups to effectively leverage that to get incremental business through redemptions. Wanup can become their individual loyalty programme but for the traveller they get the choice to redeem throughout the network.”
Garvan said Wanup has the advantage over OTA loyalty schemes like booking.com’s Genius and hotel.com’s in that hotels are able to give something back to the customer which they value other than just a discount.
“Hotels understand and control the experience the guest has when they are on property. That’s the benefits we have built into the programme. We give people a much more powerful currency of use when they are travelling.”
Wanup uses Trustyou to help it curate its hotel members to ensure expected standards are maintained and is looking to offer a full range of product from serviced apartments to three and five star properties. “We currently have most properties in Spain and Italy and are growing nicely in France. The opportunity now is to deliver a programme that is genuinely pan European. Our mission is to provide a broad selection of product in a broad range of locations. We need to cover the ground.”