Mandarin Oriental is a relatively small luxury hotel chain, operating just 28 hotels across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. However, with a such a small chain they actually have pretty good brand recognition in the luxury hotel market.
Flip through most in-flight magazines, and you’ll probably notice ads from Mandarin Oriental, with the tag line “I’m a Fan” (a plan on the chain’s logo) These ads feature stars like figures like actress Dame Helen Mirren, famous architect I. M. Pei, and actor Morgan Freeman, and are a play on the hotel chain’s logo.
The hotel group has existed for years without a formal loyalty or guest recognition program, but that’s changing. Mandarin Oriental is launching its first guest recognition program, called Fans of M.O.
This isn’t a loyalty program, per se, since there is essentially no reward structure (i.e. you don’t earn points that you can then redeem for free nights), and there are no tiered benefits that reward repeated stays. However, it is entirely free to sign up (here), and actually offers quite a bit of value.
All members of Fans of M.O. will get free Wi-Fi and a welcome amenity. This isn’t really a huge deal, since most loyalty programs offer free internet to guests who book directly through the hotel’s website. However, these benefits will be available to all registered members, regardless of how they book their stay. If you book with a travel agent or elsewhere, you can simply call the hotel and have them attach your membership ID to the reservation. This of course allows you to “personalize” the stay somewhat, by making some of your preferences known. Mandarin Oriental says that they are also offering “Members Only” experiences and offers, but only time will tell what that entails.
Where I think Fans of M.O. gets interesting are the benefits they offer guests who book their stays online. If you book on Mandarin Oriental’s website, you can choose two benefits from below:
- Early Check-in (12 pm)
- Late Check-out (4 pm)
- Daily breakfast
- Dining or spa credit
- Room upgrade
- Streaming Wi-Fi
- Celebratory treat
- Pressing services (free pressing or laundry of an item)
This is basically a list of all the benefits a loyalty program could possibly offer its top tier guests, except here you have to choose from a list. Except here, everyone who is a Fans of M.O. member have access. You basically don’t need to be a “loyal” guest—you can even be a first-time guest at a Mandarin Oriental hotel—and that’s is pretty incredible.
For example, I can see someone routinely choosing a late check-out and daily breakfast as their two “privileges,” since I would say those are the two things that I value the most. However, maybe sometimes you might book a rate that includes breakfast, and you could choose a room upgrade as a treat instead. If you know you have a later flight (or an early arrival), you can pick your amenity to make sure you get access to your room early, or can extend check-out until late afternoon.
Obviously, the hotel doesn’t have the largest footprint, but you can find them in many major cities across the globe. From the Mandarin Oriental here in New York or Washington D.C., to the properties in Hong Kong or Tokyo, to even ones in London or Paris, they are definitely worth checking out.
Overall, I think Fans of M.O. is a pretty compelling guest recognition program from Mandarin Oriental. All guests who register can get a welcome amenity and free Wi-Fi, which is nice. However, it also encourages people to book direct by giving them something that is truly valuable, from free breakfast to room upgrade.
You can register for Fans of M.O. here.