Despite what we often read about young travellers and loyalty, Jean-Francois Guillard, VP loyalty EMEA at Accor is convinced that in an age of experience and personalisation, the reward scheme isn't dead yet. He believes loyalty card holders want more than just upgrades and instead sign up for a better experience.
His comment from GBTA Europe came as the hotel chain revealed new survey results that showed how loyalty plays a part in hotel bookings.
Of 500 travellers surveyed (33% in the 18-34 age bracket and 44% aged 35-54) 54% said they were part of a loyalty programme and 80% said it was important to use those benefits when on a work trip. Naturally they prefer a welcome drink and fruit bowl, room upgrades and earning free nights as benefits, compared to the cost savings that buyers would focus on, as shown in this chart.
However 36% use their points on future business travel and 33% use them for a mix of business and leisure travel, so the benefits often go to the company as well as the individual.
Of the buyers surveyed 65% allow travellers to use loyalty points in their travel programmes but 68% think there is a negative impact coming from marketing incentives to book direct. The chart below shows where there are gaps in what buyers have authorised in the policy and where travellers are booking. 62% of travellers are aware that their company has preferred hotel rates but cite price and convenience as their main reasons for booking outside of channels.
In the age of personalisation the idea of preferred rates looks subjective to the travel buyer who may be purchasing with a company policy in mind but still holds personal working relationships or preferences that may sway the decision or prevent potential new or enticing entrants entering the programme. Loyalty schemes bring in-hotel (or flight) personal benefits that travel managers can't provide and allow travellers to get some individuality into their trips. Opening up to these is a way of providing traveller rewards but leaving it all up to the suppliers to manage.