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BizReport : Loyalty Marketing : April 29, 2013

Brits don't care for travel-related loyalty schemes

Less than one in five Brits is enamored by travel industry loyalty schemes, according to an academic from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

by Helen Leggatt

1011147.pngSpeaking at the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne, Switzerland, Dr Andreas Leibrich pulled no punches when he announced that "people don't like loyalty programmes".

While such schemes are put in place to encourage repeat bookings, Leibrich, an e-tourism researcher, said that a study among online travel bookers in the U.K., Germany and the U.S. revealed that Brits, in particular, were not responsive to such tactics.

Just 19% of respondents in the U.K. "like points programmes by travel providers", and a similar result was found in Germany. In the U.S. the rate was higher at 45%, but in all three markets a majority did not like loyalty points programmes. However, a majority in each of the three countries agreed they made repeat bookings and that "one brand is preferable to another". Liebrich called this "cognitive loyalty" and reported a rate of 63% in the UK.

In his study, Leibrich found five elements that lead to loyalty. They were a well formatted website, a good reputation and service, positive personal experience, low prices, and a trusty brand. Furthermore, in sixth place, was "another person's experience" or a social media recommendation.

It's interesting to note that loyalty schemes in other markets are popular and used regularly. However, travel-related schemes are often more complex, require far higher spends to achieve very little, and are subject to more restrictions and conditions of use.

Another speaker at the forum, Aviva Pearson, director of new business development at US destination marketing consultancy Simpleview, alluded to the complex and restrictive nature of travel loyalty schemes. "I stayed at a hotel for three months then was offered four free nights for my loyalty. When I went to use them, my points had expired. You know, you fly 100,000 miles with an airline but you can only redeem your points one Saturday in May. A loyalty reward has to be worthwhile."

Tags: Europe, loyalty marketing, loyalty program, research, travel trends, U.S.

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