Just as airline loyalty programs are making it harder to cash in on rewards, hotels are upping the ante, letting guests earn points for tweets and social media interactions—not just night stays. The latest to join the nascent trend is Kimpton, who today announces a new loyalty program to replace InTouch. The name, Karma, says it all—the more love you give Kimpton, the more love comes back to you. Here’s how it works:
Unlike InTouch, Karma will have a multiple-tier structure. Before, guests needed to achieve access to the “Inner Circle” before receiving rewards—and now, more in-between tiers make it easier and faster to score perks.
Tier 1 includes basic perks that Kimpton members will already be familiar with, such as “Raid the Bar,” custom stay preferences, and the ability to redeem free room nights; Tier 2 adds spa credits and complimentary upgrades; Tier 3 goes an extra mile with late check-out, welcome amenities, and complimentary chef’s tastes; the top tier, still called “Inner Circle” offers complimentary nights at new hotels, a dedicated reservation line, and even direct access to Kimpton’s CEO.
Importantly, all existing InTouch rewards will roll over to the new system (there are 1.5 million members so far).
But the way you qualify for these tiers isn’t as black-and-white as most other programs. While you can gain access to each tier by being a frequent customer (see the graphic below), Kimpton Karma uses a much more complex algorithm to understand how engaged you are with the brand as a whole—those who are more engaged (by being active on social media, eating at Kimpton-based restaurants, posting selfies at the pool, bringing along their pets, or checking out wine hour, for instance) get moved up the ladder. The algorithm itself is kept secret, but the premise is simple: the more you (openly) get to know Kimpton, the more they can get to know you, and the better they can cater to you as a guest.
In fact, personalization is at the very heart of what Kimpton is doing with Karma Rewards. The brand has long been known for its ability to understand each guest’s individual preferences, researching them pre-stay on social media or recording their minibar selections, for instance. With Karma, this goes to the next level—the brand has developed a new back-of-house software system to help them recognize and personally greet guests at any property, and a new tracking program helps the company improve its understanding of very specific preferences. These learnings will continue to inform Kimpton’s so-called moments of “surprise and delight,” which are now promised to Karma members. Will they be creepy or cool? If you’ve established yourself as a sufficiently-plugged-in traveler, you’re likely to be impressed—we certainly are.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.