A new report by iSeatz, a provider of travel loyalty technology, points to a disconnect between what loyalty programs offer and what travelers want.
For example, 84% of consumers say experience-related issues are the most frustrating part of booking travel within their loyalty program. Meanwhile only 20% of loyalty providers say the user experience is their biggest challenge.
The report, Booking, Personalization, Sustainability, and Payments: The Tipping Point for Travel Loyalty in 2023, is based on two surveys conducted in November and December 2022. One surveyed more than 2,000 travelers and members of loyalty programs in the United States, and the other surveyed nearly 300 loyalty program professionals.
According to the findings, just 52% of respondents say their loyalty program delivers what they value most. That compares to 92% of loyalty providers who say their loyalty program is delivering on customer needs.
“The most important takeaway from this report is the need for travel loyalty programs to put the member’s wants and needs front and center,” says Kenneth Purcell, founder and CEO of iSeatz.
“When customer centricity is the guiding idea, alignment between expectations and experience happens naturally, and growth follows closely behind.”
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The report points to four key areas in which loyalty programs can improve: the booking experience, sustainability, personalization and payment technology.
While 43% of consumers say saving money on travel is what they value most from their loyalty programs, just 32% of companies surveyed include travel rewards as part of their earning and redemption options - a missed revenue opportunity, according to the study.
And while 63% of loyalty providers say their programs are members’ first choice when booking travel, only 51% of consumers say the same.
The research “shows that American consumers have clear expectations for what their travel loyalty programs should deliver,” Purcell says, “and that they want more control over their experiences.”
Purcell says there is “a huge opportunity” for companies that prioritize flexibility and value in their loyalty programs “to drive revenue and improve customer engagement.”
Other findings include:
- More than 70% of consumers who receive personalized recommendations through their loyalty booking site say their current loyalty programs provide them with the value they are looking for. Just 44% of respondents who receive no personalized content say the same.
- Also, 28% of millennials and 37% of Gen Z respondents say they would book more travel if their loyalty program had sustainability-related redemption options.
- And 31% of consumers want “buy now, pay later” options for purchases made via their loyalty programs, but only 37% of programs support that payment method.
Founded in 1999, iSeatz is based in New Orleans. Its partner portfolio includes American Express, Air Canada, Amtrak, Expedia and IHG Hotels & Resorts.
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