Moving away from the leisure centre 

Marriott’s deal with MGM to give it access to the Strip and its customers access to legal gaming was another example of the hotel sector getting deeper into guests’ day-to-day lives and having some of that.

In this case, their leisure lives, which is a little odd, because, as we saw when pandemic restrictions were lifted, the large brand families don’t really know what leisure guests want, who they are or where to find them. Marriott has clocked that they like gambling though and this is a great start. 

It’s possible that the hotel sector has worked out how to reward our leisure side, because that’s the side where the loyalty points get cashed in. Anyone attempting to board an overbooked flight on a business trip has witnessed this phenomenon. Unless the airline bribes your leisure side, you’re not giving up your seat. Refund onto the business card? You can shove that in your overhead locker. 

Hotels may not know the leisure traveller, but they know how to bribe them. They suspect they don’t – or didn’t – spend much money, so they’re not really worth courting in any other way, but corporate travellers save points to unleash in leisurely ways and so here the hotels are doing deals with MGM. Or, if you’re Accor, enjoying Crazy Horse. 

There are bribes in the corporate market of course, where the earning of money and loyalty points happens, but they tend to be of the ‘if you travel a lot you move up a rung and get a better trouser press’ variety. Points don’t change hands. It’s about respect at checkin, not a free prawn cocktail with glittery fringing and an illuminated fountain spectacle. 

Should it be? Is focusing rewards/cashing in on leisure being leisurist? What about the workaholic, should they just be interested in earning and never spending? They’re not even going to fritter in on free lattes when they’re getting those on expenses anyway. 

Deals such as Marriott’s with MGM, or Marriott’s with Elegant Hotels, are about the classic loyalty equation: corporate travellers earn points to cash them in for leisure. We keep hearing – and it’s starting to look like it must be true – that the way we travel is more inclined to combine leisure and business and my that does sound relaxing. 

Does this mean you might cash your points for a massage at the bridge between the business part and the leisure part of your stay? Maybe. Does it mean you might change the type of accommodation you have from a room to a suite or an apartment when you want to kick back? Very probably. All roads rightly lead to serviced apartments and models which let us live like we live.

The sector is waking up to flexible stays and the flexible buildings which accommodate them as the way to cater to our actual, not fictional lives, and the way to make more money. Hotels, co-living, co-working are blending more and more and our many selves are walking through the same doors to do so. 

Anyone who wants to attract all ourselves will need to blend all these things, to have everything you need under one roof, even if part of that is made with palm fronds. And for the hotels, anything which means you’re burning and not amassing stacks of points makes them  – and the owners of the leisure properties  – happier. 



Disclaimer: of course the only way to achieve true loyalty is to deliver memorable experiences. But we’re not here for that, we’re here for loyalty programmes and how they can evolve and that’s something else entirely. 

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