Ritz-Carlton will introduce a loyalty rewards program in response to declining room rates in the luxury hotel industry. The chain long insisted that its customers were not interested in such a scheme. But with the average cost of a Ritz room at $297 at the end of the second quarter, 19% below the 2008 rate, loyalty programs now hold an appeal.
"We always said in the early days, we're not going to give you a toaster, we're going to give you service," Ritz President and COO Herve Humler told The Wall Street Journal
. "That was part of the philosophy."
Marriot International (MAR
), the chain's parent, will introduce the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program. Fairfield Inn and Courtyard by Marriot, both of which are owned by Marriot International, already offer points. A 20-night stay at a $300-a-night Ritz room will earn one or two nights at most other Ritz hotels, or 10 nights at a lower-end Marriot brand hotel.
The move is the latest by Ritz hotels to attract travelers. Earlier in the summer, many resorts offered free meals for children.