Leaders Club, the loyalty program of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) group, is fresh from a facelift that makes it more accessible with new benefits to go with it. One of the biggest changes is making the program free to join. Previously, members had to pay a $175 annual fee to take advantage of the instant benefits like free breakfast. Now, it’s free for everyone with benefits available after joining rather than only after achieving elite status.
Phil Koserowski, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, explains the recent changes to the independent hotel consortium’s loyalty program and how new members may find it especially rewarding when compared to traditional loyalty programs.
How does the Leaders Club loyalty program work?
Similar to other programs, members earn points based on their hotel stays. They earn one point per dollar spent on the room on the eligible room rate (food, beverage and spa purchases excluded), and they can earn points on as many as three rooms per stay.
Elite status in the program is are based on qualifying spend with Leaders Club Sterling status awarded after spending $5,000 within a calendar year. These members earn a 5% bonus on all of their earned points at the end of the year as well as five advance room upgrade certificates.
When they have enough, members can redeem points for a stay. Redemption nights start at 4,000 points and can vary based on the property and date of visit. There are no award charts or blackout dates, which means that members redeem points from their account to offset the nightly rate (rather than a flat number of points from a chart).
Why the switch from fee-based to free loyalty program?
During the pandemic, LHW had already extended membership and status so members could enjoy the benefits of the program when they could actually travel. We also waived program fees and ensured we were supporting the changes to travel plans our members had to make due to Covid-19. But, we wanted to do more.
For our hoteliers, this change to a free program is focused on helping to drive the recovery through more stays from our existing Leaders Club members while also growing the number of loyal travelers who are interested in their hotels. Removing the $175 annual program cost has simplified the experience for our existing members and is enabling us to find and reward more travelers who value what our independent luxury hotels around the world offer.
What makes Leaders Club different?
Our loyalty program was designed as a club for “curious travelers” who value staying at independent, family-led, luxury hotels. Through the program, our members enjoy immediate on-property experiences and rewards like room upgrade opportunities and free breakfast daily. The more members stay, the richer the rewards they can unlock since elite status brings more room upgrades and points-earning opportunities.
Any plans for a Leaders Club-branded credit card?
Not at this time, however we are continuously making enhancements to the program, so never say never.
What is the most popular perk for members?
Daily breakfast for two. Breakfast at a Leading Hotel isn’t a quick morning jaunt, it’s a tradition. From The Setai Miami Beach that offers brunch with a side of jazz in their outdoor courtyard, to The Ritz London where breakfast is enjoyed in their elegant dining room, the experience is truly exceptional and never the same. During the pandemic when guests were unable to enjoy this luxury, we helped them replicate the feeling of waking up at a Leading Hotel by sharing some of our most popular breakfast recipes on LHW.com.
Beyond breakfast, we have found that our members greatly value our pre-arrival upgrade confirmations, which is a differentiator among many programs. This benefit was introduced in 2018 and created based on feedback from members who wanted to arrive on property knowing their upgraded room awaits. Club members (the free, base level) receive one confirmed pre-arrival upgrade annually after a completed first paid stay, and Sterling members receive five confirmed pre-arrival upgrades. A confirmed room upgrade and breakfast just for joining give all members instant benefits that require loyalty status with other programs.