Hotels loyalty programs have essentially the same structure today as 10 years ago: Try remain loyal to a brand in order to collect points that can be redeemed in exchange of benefits, such as free rooms, and loyalty status ladder ascension. Yet loyalty programs aren’t leveraging the public interest that has grown in services using a social component as a differentiator such as Spotify (a music streaming service) and Pinterest (a photo sharing website). Also in the meantime, the fast development of cloud-based IT solutions means that hotel brands are now more flexible when it comes to rolling out new functionalities or system upgrades. However, despite benefiting from reduced time-to-market, hotel companies have not yet added a social component to their loyalty programs. This might be explained by the fact that mastering IT is only one side of the coin; understanding what drives people’s behavior is the other. Harness the power of social circles Loyalty program tier levels enhance social status, but do not foster a direct social connection and/or a competitive environment. To put this into context, occasional travellers might envy frequent flyers’ perks, but they know that they do not belong to the same category of clients. In other words, you don’t mind if a famous actor buys an expensive sports car, but you do envy your neighbor’s new sedan. Following this logic, what if customers competed with their friends and direct social circle? Couldn’t that impact their purchasing behavior? Would they be more engaged with a loyalty program? Learn from what’s worked elsewhere Outside of hospitality, several brands have successfully introduced this social component at the heart of their offering. For instance, Nike Fuel, an electronic bracelet worn on the wrist, allows its users to track their levels of physical activity and benchmark them against their friends. Looking at the travel industry online, websites such as Tripit or Kayak, offer solutions to track travel details and share them with friends and family. These websites, however, are marketed mainly as trip planning tools that aim at reducing administrative burden and not so much as collaborative games or platforms. Sensing the potential of social mechanics, Badgeville, a technology company, combines psychology with sophisticated technology to drive user engagement and improve customer loyalty. Badgeville provides its corporate clients with SaaS- based technology for web and mobile sites to measure and influence user behavior using techniques including gamification and game mechanics, social mechanics, and reputation mechanics. For example, this summer online travel giant Expedia ran Around the World in 100 Days, a 15-week contest that allows players to earn up to one million points in Expedia Rewards, the OTA’s loyalty program. Get the full story at Bridge.over Group