David Armstrong, CEO, HolidayPirates
"The assumption that travelers are not faithful to a brand anymore, and consumer loyalty in travel belongs to the past, is not true."
Quote from David Armstrong, CEO of HolidayPirates, in an article on PhocusWire this week on what makes him tick.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered on our site that week.
Loyalty in the travel industry, as well as more widely, is undergoing massive change as consumers no longer blindly place their trust in the brands they have always known.
The internet has driven people to shop around for the best price, and the number of sites visited before a booking seems to go up rather than down.
David Armstrong’s comment above might give hope to some, but he qualifies it by saying the company specializes in “high value-for-money deals.”
There is no denying that HolidayPirates has built up a successful business, but what is it, other than value-for-money, that might foster loyalty in travel?
A piece of somewhat scary research from Adobe reveals that 45% and 60% of boomers signed up to the top airline and hotel loyalty programs, respectively, compared to only 15% and 25% of Gen Z.
Adobe sees a future for brands that provide relevant services to this group to make headway.
Research from Expedia supports this, revealing that the starting point for Gen Z is how they are going to maximize a trip, which according to the online travel agency, opens up a huge opportunity to inspire them through experiences.
But, it’s not just younger consumers. A more recent study from the OTA says reviews and ratings are more important to consumers than brand when considering a future stay.
It also confirms that price continues to be the most influential factor in property selection and that hotels, especially independents, will need to get better at highlighting their value through “compelling loyalty programs” for business travelers.
But, it’s a highly competitive landscape. Major chains including Hilton, IHG and Marriott are investing in their loyalty programs, providing best prices and other services, to drive direct business.
Can anyone win in this new loyalty landscape?
Hopefully, the consumer, as well as those brands that manage to demonstrate value, which can be a little hard with something so intangible.
And to come full circle to David Armstrong - loyalty in travel does not belong in the past, but it does need bringing up in the 21st century.
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