Showing appreciation for your loyal guests

Membership programs that give rewards for free items, discounts, benefits, etc. are one way to help build loyalty with guests. But research is showing that it doesn't really build much loyalty with Millennials, as they are much less brand loyal than older adults and more than ready to jump ship when something new or different comes along.

Instead of some automated membership loyalty program, when have you shown really true appreciation to you loyal guests? Here's one example of really raising the bar.

Our CEO, Randy White, travels a lot, a whole lot, to visit our clients and projects in America and throughout the world. As a result, he has elite Diamond status (125,000 miles a year) with Delta Airline's frequent flyer program.  That status brings him a whole lot of perks and benefits. Of course to maintain that status each year, he has to choose Delta for the vast majority of his flights.

So you might conclude that Delta has permanently caught him as a loyal customer. But their frequent flyer membership program really doesn't guarantee his loyalty. The other airlines also have their frequent flyer programs. The other two legacy airlines, American and United, are always trying to get Delta's elite flyers to jump over to them. So at the end of each year, they offer a status match where Delta's customers can switch and have the equivalent level of status on American or United. So, although Delta's loyalty program is good with its many benefits, it sure doesn't guarantee that flyers will stay loyal if Delta doesn't offer a good quality experience better in benefits and value compared to the other airlines' frequent flyer programs.

So what does Delta do for its Diamond customers? It does more than just dish out benefits. It personally lets them know that they really appreciate their loyalty by personally thanking them for it. Often times when boarding the plane, the gate agent thanks Randy for being a Diamond member. Often times the flight attendants do the same. And often times even more important people at Delta go out of their way to thank Randy for his business.

On his recent flight to back home from the IAAPA convention in Orlando, before the plane took off, the plane's pilot, Captain Kendall, came out of the cockpit and personally thanked Randy while shaking his hand for being an elite Diamond member and then gave him his card with a hand written note.

Sure, it was preplanned. But what made it special was it was a face-to-face show of appreciation, not just some email telling you about some benefit you earned. And it sure makes you think twice before considering jumping ship to another airline.

If you want to develop loyal guests for your leisure venue or entertainment center in today's highly competitive world, it takes more than some automated rewards program. It requires expressing true appreciation, human-to-human, eye-to-eye. Technology can never replace the power of the human touch.

When was the last time someone in management or a higher up at your leisure venue went out of their way to personally thank one of your loyal guests for their business?