For our third and final instalment on American’s attitudes toward travel reward programs, Sophia Mendel, travel writer at ValuePenguin has some sound advice, “Given the economic climate, it might be in travelers’ best interest to use up points and miles sooner rather than later, before the brands that are being hard hit decide to devalue them.” Read on to find out why.
Loyalty sometimes comes with a price tag: 40% of travel loyalty program members pay for at least one of their programs, such as an annual fee on a travel credit card or co-branded airline card or hotel card. Another potential cost is purchasing frequent flier miles, which 19% of loyalty members say they’ve done.
“Some travel rewards programs offer major perks and benefits in exchange for their annual fee,” noted Mendel.
That said, it’s important to do your research before committing to make sure a program offers what’s important to you. For most loyalty program members (73%), the ability to earn rewards is the biggest motivator to join. The next most popular reasons are access to special discounts or sales (50%) and special perks for those who reach a certain status (42%). And while just 15% of consumers overall listed “feel[ing] connected to the brand” as a key benefit, a slightly higher number of Gen Zers (19%) thought brand connection was important.
As for how program members use their rewards, 66% are hoarders who prefer to hang onto them, while 35% say they frequently cash them in.
The vast majority of travel loyalty program members — 82% — believe they’re worth it, while only 45% of non-members say the same. In other words, those who sign up are finding value in the programs, though 54% of all respondents say they would like to see travel brands do more for their loyal members.
Specifically, consumers say they would like to see more rewards issued per dollar amount spent (44%), more upgrades (41%) and more exclusive deals or offers (40%).
“I think travel brands could and should be more generous to their loyalty members. That said, you get what you pay for,” says Mendel.
She recommends crunching the numbers to make sure the benefits outweigh the costs. “Or else, what’s the point? If you’re paying a relatively low annual fee and receive some really great benefits in return, that’s a program you should stick with as the rewards to costs ratio is in your favor,” she added.