InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has launched its 2016 Trends Report, ‘Meaningful Membership: Transforming Membership in The Age of I’, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
The report challenges brands to engage with consumers in a way that builds Membership Communities, a powerful asset for brands in today’s dynamic consumer landscape.
Fuelled by the growth of social media channels, there is increasing demand from consumers to belong to a like-minded community, sharing opinions and insight as they connect around their experience of a brand. In doing so they also want to maintain their individuality, amounting to what is being termed the ‘The Age of I’, a desire from consumers to maximise both inclusiveness and individuality.
IHG’s 2016 Trends Report highlights how brands can manage this challenge and make membership meaningful for consumers by creating Membership Communities.
To do this, IHG says brands need to recognise the universal need of the community as well as, through personalisation, what resonates with individual members: their likes and dislikes, what they need and when they need it.
The Report identifies a new set of rules, ‘The Essentials for building Membership Communities’, to follow in order to create and build meaningful Membership Communities.
These include ensuring brands humanise interaction with their customers. Dialogue is increasingly digital in today’s world, so trust grows when communications with Membership Communities are given a human face.
Also important is encouraging members of their loyalty programs to move up the ‘loyalty ladder’.
“The relationship between consumers and brands requires a new mind-set,” said IHG’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard Solomons.
“In today’s digital age, an organisation’s interaction with the outside world is more than transactional… it needs an emotional engagement to succeed, stay relevant and most importantly, maintain trust.
“For IHG, we believe that understanding this interplay is key to generating value for our guests and our business. Our 2016 Trends Report identifies how to begin to unlock this value by creating Meaningful Membership. It represents our commitment to building and maintaining guest loyalty, which we do through the world’s biggest and fastest growing hotel loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club and our portfolio of brands across more than 5,000 hotels worldwide,” he said.
Other key findings in the report included:
-There is a big difference between ‘Signing In’ and ‘Signing On’: Signing In is a behaviour, anyone can register or enrol. Signing On creates pride of belonging to the Membership Community. People do not just want to log in. They want to link up. They want a relationship.
-We live in a world of now: ‘One-Think Decision-Making’ creates Meaningful Membership as people expect to be satisfied in nanoseconds. If brands do not deliver on their promises quickly, perceptions of quality, leadership and trust can be damaged.
-Belonging is a universal need: Members of Membership Communities want to belong to a group that has a bigger purpose. Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives allow members to connect with important issues.
-A membership mind-set internally is as crucial: To build a successful Membership Community outside, it is necessary to build meaningful membership inside. A corporate culture which builds a meaningful membership mind-set generates trust in the organisation’s brands. In IHG’s case this is “achieved through a strong focus on training and building a service culture – to the benefit of our guests”, the company says..
The IHG Trends Report series track the global decline of trust in institutions.
This insight is based on a series of related studies spanning a four-year period and involving nearly 40,000 interviews with travellers across the globe.
This year’s report follows the 2013 report on ‘The New Kinship Economy’, which highlighted a transition from brand experiences to brand relationships in the hospitality sector; the 2014 report on ‘Creating Moments of Trust – the key to building successful brand relationships in the Kinship Economy’ which suggested that to win guest loyalty in the future, hotels need to deliver a global, local and personalised experience; and last year’s report on ‘Building Trust Capital: The new business imperative in the Kinship Economy’, which identified the growing importance for companies to build both brand and organisational trust.
The 2016 IHG Trends Report has been compiled in association with IHG’s long-time partner, Arcature, and through using its own research and observations as well as a variety of external, third party sources.
For more detailed information from IHG’s 2016 Trends Report, visit www.ihgplc.com/trends_report