Do Travel Loyalty Programs Matter?

Do Travel Loyalty Programs Matter?

Brand loyalty has always been important to businesses, but recently it’s taken on even greater significance.

And how can it not?

With so many options out there, consumers would be overwhelmed by making even the smallest decisions if there were not brands to ensure a company's quality and hold them accountable.

Over time we begin to consume more from that brand and build a relationship with the company. That loyalty matters a lot. So much so, that you could likely pick from the following companies in a matter of seconds:

  • Streaming: Netflix or Hulu?

  • Personal Computer: Mac or Dell?

  • Coffee: Starbucks or Dunkin?

When it comes to corporate travel, brand loyalty is no different. How do we know this? Recently completed a survey of 630 frequent business travelers, and dug deep into what really matters to them when they are on the road.

The answers to our questions were wide-ranging, but after compiling the data, one thing was clear: travel loyalty programs matter to corporate travelers.

Here are the findings:

Points matter

The number one reason that business travelers want to stick with one brand is simple: airlines and hotel chains reward the loyal travelers. 

While we were surveying corporate travelers, we found that:

  • 85% of travelers agreed that earning points they can use for personal trips is important

  • 84% consider it a perk of business travel.

When you step back and look at how often business travelers are on the go, the top 10% of business travelers spend on average 88 days on the road in hotels every year. Between the constant back and forth, those frequent traveler miles and reward points can rack up quickly.

But it’s not even just a perk. Travelers referred to these points as a major contributor to satisfaction while on the road.

  • 61% of those travelers said that if they could not accrue points for personal use, their overall satisfaction with traveling for work would go down.

Keeping this in mind can help travel managers rack-up an easy win, by allowing their employees to enroll with travel loyalty programs, book with their preferred airlines, and allow them to retain points they earn when traveling for business.

Building this into their travel policy is a easy and effective way to make travel a privilege and not a burden for travelers.

What about status?

Surprisingly, our research indicates that while points for personal use are important, fewer people care about upgrades. Here are our findings broken down by category:

  • Airlines - 37% said airline status is important to them

  • Car Rentals - 36% said car rental status is important to them

  • Hotels - 50% said hotel status is important

Despite the importance of brand loyalty when it comes to traveling, brand status and traveling first-class are simply not top priorities for business travelers.

However, when it came to personal travel, people constantly chose their airline or hotel chain based on their reward status.

By giving your employees the flexibility to stay loyal and book with their preferred company, you’ll begin turning corporate travel into a privilege, and keep them happy on the road and during their time off.

The Bottom Line's recent study makes one thing abundantly clear: loyalty matters to corporate travelers, but not in the straightforward sense you might expect. Frequent business travelers care somewhat about loyalty to specific airline and hotel brands, but they are very concerned with retaining loyalty points.

About the Author: Connor Gross