The Futurum Group's Statement on Israel

CX Innovators: Kristi Gole, Global Hotel Alliance

Fostering Hotel Guest Loyalty in a Resource-Constrained Market

CX Innovators - Kristi Gole of Global Hotel Alliance

Kristi Gole is Executive Vice President, Strategy at Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands. The organization offers a loyalty program, known as GHA DISCOVERY, which serves approximately 40 hotel brands comprising 800 properties in 100 countries, with 22 million members worldwide. Among the hotels in the alliance, about 320 properties are in Europe, 150 are in Asia, and the rest are dispersed. The US is a relatively small market for GHA, accounting for approximately 1 million of its total members. GHA maintains approximately 90 employees around the world, with the highest concentration in Dubai. Gole has been with the alliance for more than 13 years, having held roles in loyalty marketing, customer strategy and insights, and transformation & marketing before assuming her current role in early 2022.

Kristi Gole, Executive Vice President, Strategy, Global Hotel Alliance

Most Significant CX Challenges and Success Stories

“Resources have been a huge challenge,” asserts Gole, adding that some hotels were operating with 20% of normal staffing levels during the height of the pandemic, and some properties are still only up to 50% of staffing levels. The pandemic effect still overhangs the hotel industry, including persistent staffing challenges, despite business and leisure travel beginning to return to normalcy. In such an environment, guest experience and satisfaction are more important than ever.

The alliance relaunched GHA DISCOVERY under a new offering structure in 2021, which resulted in a significant increase in customer engagement with the loyalty program. Previously, just 4% of active stayers were receiving rewards through the program, a figure that increased to 100% after the relaunch. Gole calculates that hotel brands’ return on investment (ROI) for the program have increased from 14x to 17x as a result of the changes.

Internal Barriers

As an industry alliance rather than a traditional corporate structure, GHA maintains a delicate balancing act when it comes to governance and decision making. Gole explains that any significant changes require the approval of all stakeholder groups, most notably the 40 hotel brands that are part of the alliance. With the recent program restructuring, the brands needed to pay more, but the fee structure was also changed – they were only charged if guests actually stayed, rather than simply being members on the program roster. Despite some early concerns among stakeholders, Gole is satisfied that the ROI improvement has demonstrated the effectiveness and value of the program relaunch.

Key Technologies

GHA maintains a proprietary data mart and a proprietary portal, known as Discovery Dashboard – both integral elements of the alliance’s technology stack in collecting and making use of its 22 million members’ activity. Looking toward the next few years in terms of technology priorities and investment, Gole anticipates utilizing the current systems as a foundation, and expanding personalization capabilities, scalability, and content management. She adds that Oracle is a GHA shareholder, but its products are not necessarily a cornerstone of GHA’s strategy.

Predictions for CX Market Development

Looking at the direction of CX within the hotel industry at large, Gole observes that there is a major shift underway in the luxury hotel segment to a high-touch guest experience, as opposed to the deployment of automation technologies that are more prevalent in the mid-tier segment of the market. Systems, processes, and data flows will need to enable frontline employees to assist customers more effectively, rather than guests being expected to serve themselves. Gole shares that this dynamic is similar to the bifurcation in the retail industry, in which some brands are shifting back to a brick-and-mortar experience while others are concentrating their efforts on the online customer experience.

About the CX Innovator Series

The CX Innovator Series is an actionable and educational industry initiative that showcases the best practices that leading end-user executives are using within their organizations to shape their community’s experience. The series is a collaborative effort between Dash Network, Sleeping Giant Labs, and Team Wakabayashi. Using expertly curated executive interviews combined with quantitative research from consumer surveys, the CX Innovator Series provides tangible insights and a deeper understanding of how successful companies are utilizing CX programs resulting in positive business outcomes.

The CX Innovator Series is made possible by support from our lead sponsors: Concentrix, eGain, Tealium, and QuestionPro. If you would be interested in participating in the CX Innovator initiative, either as part of an end-user interview or as a supporting sponsor, please contact us.

Author Information

Clint brings over 20 years of market research and consulting experience, focused on emerging technology markets. He was co-founder and CEO of Dash Network, an integrated research and digital media firm focused on the CX market, which was acquired by The Futurum Group in 2022. He previously founded Tractica with a focus on human interaction with technology, including coverage of AI, user interface technologies, advanced computing, and other emerging sectors. Acquired by Informa Group, Clint served as Chief Research Officer for Informa’s research division, Omdia, with management and content strategy responsibility, formed by the combination of Tractica, Ovum, IHS Markit Technology, and Heavy Reading.
Clint was previously the founder and President of Pike Research, a leading market intelligence firm focused on the global clean technology industry, which was acquired by Navigant Consulting where he was Managing Director of the Navigant Research business.

Prior to Pike Research, Clint was Chief Research Officer at ABI Research, a New York-based industry analyst firm concentrating on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets.

Clint holds a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications Management from the University of Dallas and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Washington & Lee University.


Latest Insights:

On this episode of The Six Five – On The Road, hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead welcome Nick Coult, GM at AWS Elastic Containers (ECS), for a conversation on what “AWS Serverless” means and the impact of generative AI on the serverless value proposition.
The Futurum Group’s Steven Dickens is joined by Neil Fowler, SVP Engineer for the Application Modernization and Connectivity Product Group at OpenText for a conversation on OpenText’s partnership with AWS and mainframe modernization.
The Futurum Group’s Camberley Bates is joined by Simon Jelley, GM, Data Protection as a Service and Chris Wiborg, VP Product and Solutions Marketing at Veritas for a conversation on the importance of cloud application resiliency, and data protection, compliance, and recovery.

Latest Research:

In our latest Research Brief, Acknowledging the Impact of Agent Experience on Customer Experience, completed in partnership with Local Measure, we discuss the drivers of agent frustration and burnout, the benefits of implementation new technology such as AI to better support agents and enable greater automation, and the advantages provided by the use of a modern, cloud-based contact center solution that can integrate and activate technology that creates better experiences and outcomes for both agents and customers.
In our latest Research Brief, Driving Revenue, Customer Loyalty, and Retention via a Modern Contact Center, completed in partnership with Local Measure, we discuss the reasons why so many contact centers fail to deliver results, the need to support a modern customer journey and lifecycle, the use of modern tools and approaches to deliver CX efficiently, and how to convert positive agent experiences into increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
In our latest Market Insight Report, Private 5G Networks – MSP Specialists, we take a deep dive into why private 5G Networks are gaining momentum as enterprises prioritize coverage, performance, and security factors that MSP specialists are increasingly fulfilling.