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September 2014

Independent Hotel Program

The Goal

To effectively compete with large hotel chains, independent hotels needed to attract points-driven frequent travelers – road warriors who represent just 10% of all travelers but book nearly 50% of room nights. Those travelers often chose chain hotels simply for the rewards points. Stash Hotel Rewards was created to solve that trade-off by offering a points program to frequent travelers when they stay at one-of-a-kind independent hotels.

The Initiative

Stash Hotel Rewards allows members to earn and redeem points for free nights at independent hotel properties across the United States. The loyalty program helps hoteliers reward and recognize their best guests while leveling the playing field with chain hotels by helping:

Attract valuable frequent travelers. With Stash points, independent hoteliers can compete effectively for high-volume business customers who tend to have higher incomes, pay more per room and stay more frequently and for more nights.

Win corporate and group business. Stash partner hotels can award points to travel managers and meeting planners as incentives to close a piece of business or influence the booking details. Stash points also support the highly competitive wedding market by creating structured programs that reward brides and wedding planners.

Reward and recognize best guests. Top customers feel appreciated and get Stash points to redeem at properties across the country – more flexible and useful than a single hotel or a small luxury chain can offer.

Encourage more profitable direct bookings. Chain hotels book half as many rooms through online travel agents (OTAs) as independents. Why? To earn points, loyalty members must book directly with the hotel. Stash helps independent hoteliers decrease their reliance on OTAs – and thus increase profit – by guiding guests to direct channels.

Stay unique, and truly independent. Stash partner hotels include some of the most distinctive, singular hotels in the country, and when they join Stash, they are not asked to conform to a certain set of standards, but rather, are encouraged to maintain their independent spirit.

For frequent travelers, the choice often comes to staying at an interesting independent hotel with a more personalized and unique guest experience or staying at a big-box chain property and getting points. With Stash, travelers can stay where they want and still earn points for free nights.

The Results

Since its launch in May 2010, Stash has grown its partner network by 200%, currently comprising nearly 200 Stash partner hotels in 138 cities across the U.S. Stash anticipates reaching a half-million members by the end of 2014, a smaller total than competing programs but with more focused and desirable demographics.

Stash members are very heavy travelers, spending 39 nights per year in a hotel, on average. They also skew very affluent, with 50% earning $150,000 or more – and 22% earning more than $250,000 – per year. More than three-quarters of Stash members have a Bachelor’s degree, and 35% have earned a Master’s degree. In addition, the majority is in their prime earning and spending years, with 75% between the ages of 35-64.

A study published in the Cornell Hospitality Report, “Assessing the Benefits of Rewards Programs: A Recommended Approach and Case Study from the Lodging Industry,” found that after guests enrolled in Stash, they returned to a hotel nearly 50% more often and increased their spend by a similar amount. That shift translated into incremental annual per guest revenue of $405 to $780.