Travel Research

Are Loyalty Travelers disappearing? I don’t think so!

The hotel industry is abuzz this week with survey results indicating travel loyalty program participation is declining in 2009.  Results of a new Colloquy survey showed only 48% of respondents would be “disappointed” if their travel loyalty program was discontinued.

Obviously, these are travelers who do not use their frequent flyer program or hotel frequent guest programs effectively, or perhaps they just are not frequent travelers. 

Three population segments stand out in their use of travel loyalty programs:

1)      Affluent heads of households with incomes of $125,000 or greater

2)      Young adults of 18 to 25

3)      Core women 25 to 49 with incomes $50,000 to $125,000

These are three economic sectors of the population. Why would affluent persons, relatively poor young people, and core women have travel loyalty programs in common?

I think the affluent know savings comes from buying in bulk and they can afford to do it. The Costco style of travel is my plan too. I spend more on travel than I should budget from our household income, but I do that because I know there is a much higher return on my investment in hotel stays by maintaining high elite frequent guest status with one or two hotel loyalty programs.  (I am far from affluent by the $125,000 definition. I am more of a core woman demographic in man’s clothing.)

I get upgraded frequently to hotel rooms I otherwise could not afford given the frequency of my travel.

Young people and core women have the need to get good value out of a limited pool of travel dollars. I assume a large proportion of women are heads of households and desire travel with their family. Remember these are women in the $50,000 to $125,000 income bracket. They have money to travel, but not enough money to overspend on travel.

I write about travel deals and show how a person who uses hotel loyalty programs with a plan can obtain much higher value per travel dollar.

San Francisco is an expensive city, but I’ve managed to stay in 4-star and 5-star hotels for an average of about $70 per night for nearly 20 hotel stays this year through strategic use of hotel loyalty programs.

Bloggers on show readers how to earn low-cost miles and travel in First Class around the world at a fraction of a published fare. And you can travel twice as often, or take a family member in economy class if you want to stretch the miles you’ve earned.

I sure would like to a survey focused solely on frequent guest elite members. I think the results would show high importance on the value of frequent guest loyalty programs and a high degree of importance and satisfaction with hotel loyalty programs. 2009 has been a great year for elite frequent guests in my opinion. Fewer guests have impacted hotel services with staff layoffs and restaurant closures, but lower hotel occupancy provides more complimentary room upgrade opportunities for elites.



Loyalty travelers may be in the decline, but loyalty travelers are far from disappearing.