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Here’s What Club Carlson Can Do To Win Back Loyalty

 The Club Carlson rewards program has deteriorated significantly since making a splash with their 2012 Big Win Promotion. For a while there, the hotel chain was moving on up, with impressive new hotels in the Maldives and an incredible portfolio in cities like Paris. Fast forward six years and the program and Club Carlson credit cards have undergone significant devaluations, the Maldives properties never came to be and some of their best properties have left the program. Their Paris hotels?

All joined other hotel chains. Stateside, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago is the only noteworthy property left. The future is pretty bleak, unless Club Carlson makes some changes to win back its once-loyal base.

1 – Introduce More Aspirational Brands

A rewards program can’t just get by on cheap, no-frills hotels. There has to be an aspirational brand to offer customers variety and something worth saving up for. Back in 2014 Club Carlson tried to do this by announcing the Quorvus Collection. Ever heard of it? No? That’s because they only have three hotels worldwide. Three! That’s about as boutique as it gets. While Luxembourg, Muscat, and Kuwait sound swanky enough, these aren’t exactly tourist hotspots. Not only does Club Carlson need more aspirational brands, but location is important, which brings me to my next point…

2 – Expand into major U.S. cities

One of the biggest issues with Club Carlson has always been their lack of appealing hotels. The only noteworthy U.S. Club Carlson hotel left is the Radisson Blu Chicago. That makes the annual free night certificate (after $10,000 spent) from the Club Carlson credit cards pretty much useless. To stay competitive and win back customers, Club Carlson needs a better presence stateside. Sure, they have hundreds of Country Inn & Suites in rural and suburban communities, but that’s not enough. It’s absolutely imperative that Club Carlson acquires hotels in major U.S. markets. The new Cassa Hotel in Manhattan is a good start.

3 – Brand Consistency

Club Carlson has a brand problem. The name “Radisson” often incites visions of bed bug-infested airport hotels. Country Inn & Suites? Not much better. The real issue is with the lack of consistency. Stateside, Radisson hotels are awful – plain and simple. Throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, the hotels are significantly nicer. In fact, I wrote an entire series about The Best Club Carlson Hotels. Once you begin perusing their portfolio of hotels abroad, there’s still an issue: No brand consistency.

With chains like Hyatt and Hilton, the brands are so consistent that you know what to expect when you stay at a hotel anywhere in the world. The problem with Club Carlson is that this consistency is missing. Their hotels are a mixed bag. They range from looking like outdated Intercontinental properties to hip and happening Andaz properties. Club Carlson needs to create more consistent branding and make sure it’s properly executed at hotels worldwide.

4 – No More Devaluations

Devaluations are a fact of life. It was pretty much inevitable following the Big Win promotions. The problem was with the significance of the devaluation. Not only did top-tier award nights increase from 50,000 to 70,000 points, but Club Carlson simultaneously did away with its last night free credit card benefit. If Club Carlson begins upping its game by expanding into more hotel markets and investing in high-end properties, they’ll need to be careful with how quickly they make those improvements inaccessible to members.

That’s my take on how Club Carlson can win back its customers. Ultimately, the brand needs to better serve its members with variety – both in terms of location and brands. At an IHG Conference four years ago, company executives reiterated that “travel is occasion-based.” Meaning most customers will stay at different brands depending on the occasion – not their wallets. That’s why it’s more important than ever for hotel chains to diversify their offerings. Hopefully Club Carlson will do the same.

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sheppy26 January 1, 2018

I've stayed at the Radisson Martinque in New York several times - is this now no longer a Radisson? Also, there is a Q and V Boutique hotel in Edinburgh which is part of the Quorvus collection. Maybe there are others?

Middle_Seat December 31, 2017

These look like good ideas, and I hope that CC will follow them. I have a lot of CC points but rarely find a suitable hotel in whatever city I'm visiting.