Two of Asia’s most iconic luxury hotel groups, Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and Mumbai-based Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, have announced they have formed a ground-breaking strategic alliance to broaden their reach and offer more unique experiences to guests across Asia and the world.The alliance will officially launch in March 2017 with the introduction of the Warmer Welcomes programme, which integrates Taj InnerCircle and Shangri-La’s Golden Circle guest loyalty programmes and will provide members reciprocal and seamless benefits at a scale never seen before under a hospitality alliance. Both Taj and Shangri-La are renowned worldwide for their exceptional service philosophy that is deeply rooted in, and inspired by, the cultures and traditions of the markets they operate in.Recognition is just the beginningThe Warmer Welcomes programme will offer Shangri-La and Taj’s combined six million loyalty programme members the benefits most important to them:Recognition: Members will be able to enjoy the perks of their elite status when they stay at any Shangri-La or Taj hotel with top-tier status matching.Earn points across 200 hotels, 27 countries and 131 destinations: Members of either programme will now be able to earn award points in their preferred programme while staying with Taj or Shangri-La whether in Mumbai, New Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris, London, New York and other key destinations in the world.Seamless redemptions: Members will be able to convert points to redeem awards between both programmes.Rakesh Sarna, MD and CEO Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces said: “This is a strategic step in bringing greater synergies amongst two brands known for their legendary hospitality. Over time, our valued guests and loyalty members had shared their desire for a wider selection of world class hotels in key destinations. This alliance will help drive deeper engagement for our most valuable guests and members as they will now be recognised seamlessly at some of the world’s finest hotels across multiple geographies.”“As hotel owner-operators who share similar values and service philosophies but have minimal overlap of properties, Taj and Shangri-La are in a unique position to establish a seamless alliance that goes beyond a marketing partnership or multi-hotel distribution platform,” said Shangri-La Acting President Madhu Rao. “Our alliance bridges two iconic Asian brands and opens up a world of new experiences for our loyal guests. We will be able to enhance brand awareness and increase market share by providing Golden Circle and Taj InnerCircle members more value and more reasons to stay with us.”India and China are currently the fastest-growing major economies of the world. They have the fastest-growing outbound travel markets in terms of number of travellers and have witnessed double-digit year-on-year growth for the past few years.As part of its “Loyalty Is” fifth anniversary celebration this year, Shangri-La’s Golden Circle has rolled out an array of new member benefits and partnerships, the most recent being Infinite Journeys with Singapore Airlines. In addition, Golden Circle has recently introduced programmes such as Event Planner Rewards and The Table by Golden Circle, Shangri-La’s first global dining loyalty programme.Taj relaunched InnerCircle in 2015 with augmented features and enhancements, applicable globally across all hotels. The revamped programme has no blackout dates, an easy redemption process with myriad opportunities ranging from accommodation, restaurants and spas, and no expiry of points for active members. Most recently, Taj InnerCircle also redesigned its Epicure programme, renewed with offers that extend globally. It now gives its patrons an all-encompassing experience of Dine, Drink, Stay, Spa and Redeem.Stay tuned for next week’s Q&A with Taj and Shangri-La, discussing the Warmer Welcomes announcement.