GlobalData: Loyalty, increased collaboration key in post-pandemic travel

Price-conscious travelers may be lured by the reboot of loyalty programs across the tourism sector. Various travel companies are now repositioning loyalty programs as value-orientated, rather than solely price-focused in post-pandemic travel as they seek to tap into individuals’ desires for budget experiences, according to data and analytics company GlobalData.

The company’s Q1 2021 consumer survey found that the main obstacles facing travel’s recovery are quarantine requirements (57%), travel restrictions (55%) and fear of contracting COVID-19 (51%). The fourth barrier was financial concerns (29%) and the survey found that 32% of global respondents were “extremely” concerned about their personal financial situation. This suggests that economic constraints are going to be a key consideration for many when planning future travel.

“This year will likely see more partnerships form across the sector in loyalty programs, not only displaying increased collaboration in travel’s recovery, but offering a wider range of services to customers,” said Johanna Bonhill-Smith, travel and tourism analyst, GlobalData. “This will help to drive revenue and recovery, while increasing value for end users.”

An effective loyalty program adds value for the end-user, drives return on investment (ROI) and increases revenues for the respective company. Cash conservation is one of the primary objectives of travel and tourism companies in their attempts to survive the pandemic, but it is also part of travelers’ plans going forward. This is where an effective loyalty program, making customers feel valued, may pay dividends in restoring customer confidence in travel’s recovery.

“Loyalty programs are not new, but it is clear companies across the travel and tourism supply chain now see them as key to keeping customers engaged throughout the pandemic,” she said. “The more value the offering can provide, the higher incentive to book or stay with a particular brand.”

Travel intermediaries such as TripAdvisor and Expedia Group have recently relaunched loyalty programs to encourage more bookings on both stays and experiences. The lodging industry has also seen leading companies such as Marriott, under its Marriott Bonvoy program, partner with Uber giving more opportunity for free through points to be collected.

“The success of these loyalty programs is yet to be seen, but each strategy has the potential to provide extra value for the end user when using these companies,” said Bonhill-Smith. “With leading companies across the travel sector now investing in loyalty programs, it suggests that there is a heightened focus on ROI and value for money experiences in post-pandemic travel.”

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