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Omni Hotels & Resorts builds loyalty program momentum via Google Wallet, Passbook

Omni Hotels & Resorts is making a hard push into mobile loyalty for 2014 by incorporating Google Wallet and Apple’s Passbook as ways for consumers to digitally store their membership cards.

The Google Wallet initiative integrates with Omni’s Select Guest loyalty program. In addition to the loyalty components, Omni is also rolling out Google Wallet Instant Buy to streamline the number of steps that consumers need to take when making an online and mobile reservation.

“We’re in the midst of a complete site design,” said Kerry Kennedy, vice president of ecommerce at Omni Hotels & Resorts, Dallas.

“With our redesign, we are integrating with Passbook, there will be full Passbook features, so [Google Wallet] supports our strategy just from a streamlined, secure, trusted payment processing option for our customers – that’s one of our strategies so that it obviously helps conversions if you can take down some of those barriers for payment, customers are more likely to transact with you,” he said.

“Because we see mobile proliferation and continued exponential growth in mobile, we know that customers are not only using mobile devices, but they’re using their mobile vendors that they already trust, like Google Wallet, as aggregated sources of information and for referrals to businesses that they might be interested in.”

Storing mobile loyalty?
Consumers can download either the Android or iPhone Google Wallet application to sync up their Omni loyalty account information.

Once the app is downloaded, consumers can click on the loyalty programs tab from the menu that pulls out from the left-hand side of the screen.

Information about the Select Guest loyalty program then pops up, and consumers can either log in or set up their account.

The goal of the loyalty card component is to streamline the loyalty redemption process as much as possible for members. At the same time, the hotel group wants to extend the reach of its program.

Additionally, Omni can leverage a virtual version of the loyalty card to build promotions around Google Wallet users.

For example, the hotel group could use its spa services or golf resorts to push consumer exclusive offers.

Omni claims to be one of the first hotel brands to be integrated into the Google Wallet loyalty program.

Omni Hotels is also rolling out Google Wallet as a payment option on its mobile sites and apps to cut down on the number of steps that consumers need to take when making a booking. Google Wallet Instant Buy will be available as a payment option by the end of the year.

To promote the new Google Wallet integration, Omni is offering consumers a 20 percent discount for a two-night stay in exchange for syncing up their account number to Google Wallet or opening a new account.

The offer runs through Jan. 31, and the discount must be used by March 31.

Google Wallet significantly repositioned itself this year by focusing more on loyalty than payments.

For example, Google rolled out an iPhone version of its app in September. Since iOS devices do not support near-field communications, the app instead pushes person-to-person payments and integrating loyalty programs.

Brands such as Orbitz are making a big bet on these new loyalty-facing features (see story).

Stepping up to mobile
Omni Hotels is also in the middle of a digital site revamp, which will include Passbook and possibly other payment options such as Samsung Wallet as ways to store loyalty information and pay for hotel rooms.

Omni Hotels originally rolled out a mobile app in 2008.

Since then, the hotel group has incorporated new technologies including augmented reality to give its app a boost.

In July, Omni Hotels loaded marketing materials for a multichannel campaign with augmented reality.

Using the Omni Live app, consumers can scan a print ad to watch a video. After consumers have finished watching the video, they are directed to an entry form where they had the chance to receive special offers (see story).

The goal underpining all of these efforts is to help track multi-device consumers.

“Because of all the technology and the multiscreens and all the options out there, we know that consumers are more brand-agnostic than they used to be, so that obviously affects any type of loyalty program,” Mr. Kennedy said.

“Their attention span is shorter, their behavior is fragmented through multi-devices, and so what we hope to accomplish here is that as they are using multi-devices to find, research, plan, book and even share their travel experiences and plans, what we’ve found is that if we can get in these growing channels that are interdigitated between platforms in a real-time environment that meets their technological needs — in terms of, ‘How do I find somebody? How do I pay? How do I transact with a brand?’ — we think that’s the biggest reason for being in programs like this,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York