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GHA reimagines loyalty programme, launches currency

Chris Hartley

Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest loyalty programme for independent hotel brands, was relaunched at ILTM Cannes 2021 to offer more flexibility on earning and spending rewards, at home or away, with the introduction of the industry’s first digital rewards currency.

The reimagination of GHA DISCOVERY, operated by GHA, embraces new travel and lifestyle trends, encompasses more than 500 hotels across 35 brands in 85 countries and serves more than 11 million members. It will expand its reach further when NH Hotels Group joins in 2022, adding another 360 hotels.

An extensive GHA member feedback study and new consumer behaviour showed that travellers are asking to be rewarded instantly and fairly, not just for nights stayed but also for spend, in a clear and straightforward way. Today’s consumers like to feel part of the community and the chance to enjoy hotel experiences close to home.

GHA DISCOVERY is modelled around three member-centric concepts: a new digital rewards currency, DISCOVERY Dollars (D$); Recognition, with more tiers and multiple ways to progress and benefits from the first stay; and Live Local, inviting members into the hotels even without a stay, through offers and experiences from pool access to spa days to dining and more.

“Today’s discerning guests want to be recognised and rewarded instantly, wherever they travel and for whatever they spend, and GHA DISCOVERY now offers this flexibility, with the introduction of the industry’s first digital rewards currency, DISCOVERY Dollars, enabling members to earn from their very first stay and redeem on future stays for in-hotel spend, from room to dining and spa or golf. With frequent local trips also the new norm due to ongoing pandemic-related travel restrictions, our new programme is more accessible and generous, rewarding members at hotels closer to home,” said GHA CEO Chris Hartley.

Beyond rewards and benefits, GHA DISCOVERY better leverages the emerging role of hotels and resorts as community and lifestyle hubs, tapping into consumer appetite for connection to people and places and encouraging them to spend locally, giving a much-needed boost to the hospitality sector and local economies.

With the launch of DISCOVERY Dollars pumping some D$75 million (worth the equivalent in US$) into circulation globally in 2022, members will be motivated to spend, and GHA anticipates the introduction of the digital rewards currency will generate some $1.5 billion in room revenue alone.

“Ultimately, the new GHA DISCOVERY programme will help the revival of popular international destinations while building local travel communities,” said Hartley. “We are taking a very forward-looking approach to loyalty, not only meeting the needs of today’s consumers but giving them a good reason to spend, supporting the organic rebound of travel and hospitality as a key part of the global economic revival in 2022.”

Ultra-luxurious hotels and resorts in GHA’s Ultratravel Collection are part of this offering, with its portfolio of best-in-class properties in sought-after destinations, including remote islands and off-the-beaten-track locations, appealing to traveller demand for bespoke luxury travel experiences where privacy, social distancing and a sustainable approach to tourism is preferred.  

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