Saudi Arabia - The Marriott Bonvoy partnered with American Express to launch the first of its kind credit card in Saudi Arabia, enabling Card Members to earn hospitality rewards for their everyday spend. Saudi Arabia is an important market for Marriott International and we are very optimistic about the future of hospitality in the Kingdom, said Neal Jones, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International in a recent question and answer session. Here are the excerpts:

What can you tell us about the new credit card?

The Marriott Bonvoy® American Express® Credit Card is the first of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enabling Card Members to earn hospitality rewards for their everyday spend. The card allows Card Members the chance to earn Marriott Bonvoy points on daily spend while giving them access to exclusive benefits, offers and experiences across Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio, which features 8,100 hotels and 30 renowned hotel brands in 139 countries, including more than 35 properties in the Kingdom.

Through this credit card, Card Members will automatically be given annual Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status, which gives them additional benefits such as bonus points for stays and Priority Late Checkout. Members will be upgraded to Gold Elite status if they spend US$30,000 within a calendar year and will also receive an exclusive 20% discount on food and beverage options at participating Marriott properties across the Kingdom until October 31, 2023. To celebrate the launch, we have launched a limited-time welcome bonus offer of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for eligible customers.

Most importantly, cardholders of the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express® Credit Card will be recognised and rewarded for spending their hard-earned money in our hotels.

Why has Marriott decided to launch a partnership for a credit card in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is an important market for Marriott International. We have been present in the Kingdom for over 40 years. Today, we have over 35 properties and more than 10,000 rooms in operation across 11 of our renowned brands such as The Ritz-Carlton, The Luxury Collection, JW Marriott, Sheraton, Marriott Hotels and Aloft Hotels.

If there is one thing we have learned through our experience in this market, is that the citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia love to travel – locally and across the globe. We are also seeing a major socio-economic change where entertainment and hospitality are two of the market’s key pillars for personal spend .

Our collaboration with American Express for this new credit card reflects our commitment to the Kingdom. It is also in line with our objectives to evolve and grow how members are earn and redeem points with us.

These are exciting times for the travel industry in Saudi Arabia and we are very optimistic about the future of hospitality in the Kingdom.

How important are cobrand credit cards to your strategy?

Cobrand credit cards are integral to our strategy for Marriott Bonvoy. Cobrand cardholders the most engaged and loyal of the 169 million Marriott Bonvoy members we have across the globe.

Cobrand cards drive a virtuous cycle of improved benefits for consumers, better distribution for owners, better engagement for the loyalty program, and increased revenue diversification for Marriott International. Cobrand card’s also help drive repeat behaviour for both card spend, and hotel stays.

The enhanced loyalty benefits of cobrand cards improve the customer journey and experience, resulting in greater near-term and long-term loyalty and increased member satisfaction. We are also further able to develop special offers and opportunities such as new benefits and Marriott Bonvoy Moments for our most engaged consumers.

Partnering with banks around the world helps create more local co-marketing opportunities beyond cobrand as we build deeper ties with the banks’ existing customer bases.

During the global pandemic, our credit cards across the globe have been essential in helping members continue to earn points during this time. Even now as international travel has returned, we are seeing great demand for our co-brand credit cards.

This is our ninth credit card with American Express and we are pleased to strengthen our partnership with them with this new product.

How important is loyalty and Marriot Bonvoy to Marriott International’s strategy?

As a business, our loyalty programme, Marriot Bonvoy, sits at the heart of all our plans, and we see this as a significant competitive advantage, and a way to elevate our reputation.

From a customer perspective, we continue to provide outstanding and memorable experiences through our incredible portfolio of hotels. At the same time, we continue to elevate and amplify our loyalty programme through localised marketing experiences and partnerships, enhanced language capabilities, and digital transformation across our customer touchpoints, including our digital channels, booking journey and marketing campaigns.

To win the hearts and minds of travellers and drive and retain loyalty, we need to ensure our experiences, products, and offerings meet their needs – now and in the future. So, we have continued to focus on evolving the programme when it comes to benefits and how members are earning and redeeming points with us – and the launch of this card is a great example.

The power of recognition is something we all feel, and our customers want to be recognised and rewarded for spending their hard-earned money in our hotels

Through Marriott Bonvoy we're able to continuously deliver added value to our members through special recognition and benefits when they stay at our properties. We do this through points, special offers and access to once-in-a-lifetime moments through our world-class partnerships.

If our customers love the experiences and services we provide, and they connect to us in an emotional manner, they really become our true advocates.

How important is technology for your members and how are you leveraging this at your properties?

We have seen the rise of technology in our industry for a while now, but the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the demand for a more holistic, tech-enabled, personalised experience. In response to this, we are reimagining all aspects of the customer journey and using technology to deliver contactless or contact-lite experiences with a personalised touch.

Our members want options such as mobile check-in, mobile chat and mobile room-keys. We’re responding by leveraging technology to deliver personalised travel experiences pre, during and after the stay so guests can engage with us in a way that is right for them.

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