People have tons of booking options to travel. Loyalty programs have become synonymous with points, freebies and member discounts. Become a loyal consumer to accumulate the most points. Most consumers sign up for multiple loyalty programs for the same type of products and services, which negates the concept of being loyal to one brand.
Google suggests separating a company’s travel loyalty program from the marketer’s understanding of retention and customer lifetime value. Google has partnered with research consultancy Greenberg to understand the loyalty of today’s frequent travelers.
“High-value” travelers, who have high expectations, make purchases annually from an average of seven airline and nine hotels. Only 21% will sacrifice comfort for a lower price. About 87% have status with at least one airline or hotel brand. As frequent travelers, they understand the benefits of rewards programs and have every reason to be loyal, but are not.
Loyalty programs for these high-value travelers are no longer a major priority. In fact, they are not even one of the top three considerations when choosing which brand to book travel with.
Customer service is the priority with 60%, followed by an easy-to-use website at 55% and online reviews at 50%. Loyalty programs come in fourth at 46%.
Outstanding customer service is more valuable than the points that companies can offer.
Google’s research found two different types of loyalty: attitudinal -- how someone feels -- and behavior, which refers to how loyal a traveler acts.
Forty-nine percent of high-value travelers have attitudinal loyalty for an airline, and 53% have behavioral loyalty. For hotels, only 30% of high-value travelers express attitudinal loyalty to a hotel, and only 44% demonstrate behavioral loyalty.
Google believes there are three ways that travel brands can win loyalty: customer service, putting the traveler in control, and enabling the travel experience. Sergey Alakov, a SEO specialist in Toronto, thinks he has discovered that Google expanded its Reserve search feature to museums and attractions like the Empire State building -- meaning that people can search and buy tickets to tour the 102 story Art Deco Skyscraper directly through the search engine.
The platform opens the reservation interface where people can complete their ticket purchases.
These types of options that provide a service promote loyalty through Google and its search engine. Other suggestions for travelers include integrating translation features into the app or currency converters for those traveling into countries in which they are less familiar.
For example, Hostelworld, which lets people book a bed in hostels worldwide, integrated a translation feature into its app that allowed users to engage in conversations across 43 languages. The company saw more than a 259% increase in app installs at a 300% lower estimated consumer price index.