Personalized touchpoints, active listening, and respect go a long way to building consumer loyalty, especially in the service industry. Add strategic partnerships to the mix, and you have consumers for life.
Marketers That Matter invited two top Visionaries – who know the art of personalization through and through – to discuss how they enhance a traveler’s experience: Tim Mapes, SVP, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Delta Air Lines, and Peggy Roe, Global Officer, Customer Experience, Loyalty & New Ventures at Marriott Bonvoy.
The marketing industry has gone from KPIs of Share of Market, Share of Wallet, and Share of Mind to Share of Life. Today, everything comes down to being a part of the customer’s everyday utility and how many utilities you can provide. In this conversation, Tim and Peggy expand on how they augment efficient and ingenious solutions to their consumers’ pain points, reimagining loyalty through partnerships and personalization.
Here is what they had to say on Visionaries and how it could impact your teams, talent, and future.
You Can Find the MTM Visionaries Podcast On Apple, Spotify, Amazon, and more!
- End-to-End Experiences Shaping Brands for the Future
- Partnerships that Enable Customer Relationship
- Enhancing Customer Experience with Personalization
- Inspiring Loyalty in Next-Gen Travelers
- Fostering Employee Loyalty
End-to-End Experiences Shaping Brands for the Future
What exciting things are you working on that will be important as you shape your brands for the future?
Tim Mapes: Ironically, so much of what leads to success on the other side of promotion, communication, and brand development starts with listening.
As a brand, we want loyalty from frequent flyers, but we have to ask the counter-question: Is Delta loyal to you? How loyal are we when different things happen while traveling, like misplacing your bag? That’s one of the reasons you saw us do some of the things we did during Covid: rolling over elite status and protecting people’s frequent flyer elite status.
Before you ask for customer loyalty, you must demonstrate loyalty to them; it’s earned over time. There are countless products, planes, facilities, and technology in our space, but the warmth, care, and hospitality delivered to human beings make brands genuinely come to life.
This work is exciting when you activate listening, respond with products, services, programs, and policies, and then listen again to find out if you got it right.
Peggy Roe: With an older brand, I often think about what the future of our brand will stand for. The way people perceive our brands today is changing, and every touchpoint in the process can affect how someone feels. In their eyes, we used to be a hotel company and experience, and now we are an end-to-end digital and physical experience.
At any given point, we could either delight or disappoint our consumers. Much of the work we’ve been doing is laying out the entire customer experience and helping the organization figure out the moments that matter and how we are making people feel – which is quite different than how we approached it in the past.
That’s the hard work – changing the organization and how we work and designing things to affect how the customer feels about our brand.
Partnerships that Enable Customer Relationship
What led you to align with your partnerships, and what is the end benefit to the consumer? How have these partnerships enabled deeper integration into your customers’ lives?
Peggy Roe: We think about our program as a hotel experience. If you love to travel, we want to engage with you daily and not just a couple of times a year. One way to do this is by innovating with partners to get a better value proposition for travelers. We look for partnerships that help you earn towards future travel and express the lifestyle of our brands.
For example, Uber has been an excellent partner with Marriott Bonvoy. We’ve connected accounts so that every time you use Uber Ride or Uber Eats, you are earning points. This partnership drives traffic to our app, creates a simple relationship, and gets you closer to the aspiration to travel.
Tim Mapes: Innovative partnerships enable Delta’s brand to be a part of our customers’ daily lives. Historically, the travel industry has had straightforward relationships between car rental companies, hotels, airlines, and cruise lines, but we are looking at partnerships more broadly.
Our partnership with Starbucks is a great example. We’ve had Starbucks on our planes for a long time, but we recently launched a new program where you can earn rewards if you link your SkyMiles number and Starbucks accounts. We set a goal for one million people to link their accounts in one year, and we reached one million in 16 days.
Bilateral partnerships like this have a cumulative effect. Consumers are already interacting with these brands individually, but what if we bring them together to form an ecosystem that works for them and reflects what they value?
Loyalty currency can reward and change behavior through points, next-best offers, tiers, or gamification. The underlying principle is to pan for gold and know the brands your customer base cares about; it’s looking for the points of passion that light people up in a culturally relevant way.
Enhancing Customer Experience with Personalization
How have you enhanced your customer experience with personalization? What are some of the pain points you’ve solved by enabling a more customized experience?
Tim Mapes: We start by looking at the obvious pain points our flyers experience during their travel. We have done ethnographic research, where we monitored people’s heart rates, and we found that heart rates go up through security when you take your belt or shoes off or stand in line.
The research revealed 13-15 moments of truth known to us and the customer, but what do we do with these insights? Clear and pre-check are examples of solutions we augmented to solve these pain points.
We are constantly listening, monitoring, and evolving to create speed, ease, and convenience for flyers and thinking about reducing the hassle factor travelers experience. If someone’s blood pressure goes up at certain points, they obviously want control over those points, and it’s our obligation to address those.
Peggy Roe: Narrowing down pain points is the hardest part. When we look at the big picture and end-to-end customer journey, we broadly tackle four customer truth moments.
The first pain point we aim to solve is when our customers try to find where they want to go, particularly on leisure – it can be a long process! So, we help them decide by providing all their options.
The second pain point is securing details to ensure everything they need will be at their destination. Today’s consumers want to talk directly to the hotel, so we are finding ways to create an efficient connection that our hotels can deliver.
The third pain point is arrival. When customers arrive at their room, is everything they hoped for there? Ensuring we meet their expectations creates that whole feeling that drives customer satisfaction. We go through many manual processes behind the scenes to deliver what they want.
The final pain point is when customers leave their stay. Many things could happen afterward that could change how they felt about the experience. For example, if their points didn’t post, if they lost something and couldn’t get it back, etc. All these things could take a perfect experience and make it feel bad.
Inspiring Loyalty in Next-Gen Travelers
How do you inspire loyalty in the next-gen of travelers? What’s important to them versus other generations?
Peggy Roe: On the surface, loyalty is only about points, but people are actually loyal to Marriott because of how they were treated during their hotel experience – that’s human nature and will be true across generations.
When you look at the younger generation and the more infrequent traveler, they care about passion points—things like sustainability, their favorite stars, sports, etc. We’ve been thinking about translating points into something consumers care about and spending a lot of time with Gen Z to decide how to motivate them in the future.
Tim Mapes: On average, a “million miler” at Delta Airlines takes 22 years to reach that status. Every million miler begins as a zero-miler. With that, we spend a lot of time on college campuses.
Everyone wants respect, no matter what generation they are. So, how do you ensure that a person who isn’t a frequent flyer feels welcome and respected, not as a zero-miler, but as a future platinum or diamond?
How do you go upstream, know the pressure points, and know what creates an emotional connection to the brand? We must think about how to start that early because that’s where brand strength starts. Before the cement dries, we must show the younger generations the respect they deserve.
Fostering Employee Loyalty
How are you engaging your internal teams and building an environment of brand loyalty?
Tim Mapes: If Grammy’s are music’s biggest night, Chairman’s Club Honors is Delta’s biggest night. We have a red carpet walk for 100 frontline superstars who were peer-nominated worldwide. They come in with their spouses and can walk the red carpet – like an Oscar performance.
Reporters and streamers interview them, and we do everything in our power to make them feel like the stars that they are. Delta represents 90K people from 60 countries. As you might imagine, the stories and what earned that honor are extremely touching and important for fostering employee loyalty.
Peggy Roe: Similar to Delta, we strive to foster an environment of celebration for our employees. We pick ten winners from around the world based on inspiring stories of service, no matter what job they’re in, whether it’s in the hotel, at the headquarters, or out in the markets. It’s so special to meet these employees, and it is important to remember the whole thing only works because of them. Inspiring those people and being inspired by them is the key to success.
Visionaries, hosted by Nadine Dietz, airs every week and is brought to you in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Each week, two new visionaries share their game plan and how that impacts today’s teams, talent, and hybrid work environment.
Tim Mapes, SVP, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Delta Air Lines: Tim Mapes is Delta’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing & Communications Officer. He is responsible for the strategy and coordination of Delta’s internal and external communications and the global airline’s sustainability work. Tim’s oversight includes marketing, advertising, product development, corporate communications, social and traditional media engagement, and community engagement activities, focusing on propelling Delta’s reputation as a trusted global consumer brand. Previously at Delta, Tim led the strategic direction and execution of Delta’s global brand as Chief Marketing Officer. Before that, Tim was Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Song, Delta’s award-winning, low-cost division that was named one of the top three U.S. airline brands by Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure readers. Tim’s background includes 30+ years of agency and client-side experience including various leadership positions held at Omnicom’s BBDO, and Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt. He has been inducted to the Hall of Achievement by the American Advertising Federation, recognized as one of the country’s “top innovative marketers” by Advertising Age, and named to Forbes’ list of the Top 50 Most Influential Chief Marketing Officers.
Peggy Roe, Global Officer, Customer Experience, Loyalty & New Ventures at Marriott Bonvoy: Peggy Roe oversees the company’s award-winning loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, the development of new business initiatives, and Marriott’s customer experience. In this role, she is responsible for the company’s insights and data strategy, orchestrating the end-to-end guest experience, and developing new ventures to accelerate customer engagement. Previously, Peggy provided strategic leadership to over 21 countries, 23 brands, and more than 700 open hotels as the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for the Asia Pacific region. Peggy also led Marriott and Starwood’s sales and marketing integration in the Asia Pacific region and created and managed Marriott International’s joint venture with Alibaba. Peggy is passionate about education and supporting the development of women leaders, co-founding the Marriott Women in Leadership initiative in Asia Pacific in 2014 and is a board member of the Hong Kong chapter of the Asian University for Women. With more than 16 years of experience in the hotel industry, before joining Marriott, she worked in Silicon Valley for GE Capital, Amazon.com, and Homestead.com.
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