Is it Time to Revamp Your Loyalty Program?
What is a ‘Loyalty Program’
Companies are usually willing to reward customers who frequently purchase their products or services. Often the company builds a branded membership organization for these customers that usually brings a sense of inclusion, of belonging. Whether customers join a company’s Loyalty Program for social reasons or because of the special discounts, free merchandise, upgrades, or other monetary reasons, the company benefits from increased sales activity and a wealth of consumer information.
Loyal customers are great brand ambassadors when they talk about their favorite brands and products. Word-of-mouth advertising has always been the best way to increase sales, but never more so than in today’s interconnected, social world.
The Future of Loyalty Programs in the Travel Industry
The most interconnected, and arguably the most social generation is the Millennial Generation – those born after 1980 and now between age 18 and 34. This makes them a highly desirable, yet elusive target for travel marketers.
Even though this group is a small percentage of total travelers, it is a driving force in the emersion of a new industry – professionally managed travel clubs that use both technology and seasoned professionals to create unique, bespoke travel experiences for every member.
In today’s fast-paced world where Millennials demand information and gratification instantly, traditional loyalty rewards programs in the travel industry are falling out of favor. Airlines, retailers and hotels developed their business models and their brands around loyalty programs and the number of points their customers could accumulate through direct purchases or booking travel online. However, that model is experiencing a nose dive as consumers begin to encounter the loss of real savings as direct purchases and booking travel online becomes more complicated.
The good news for companies and their loyalty rewards program is the arrival of a saving grace, or more to the point, the arrival of professional companies that manage the complexities of travel planning, travel booking and technology on behalf of companies and associations.
The most important asset for most Millennials today is time, and they just do not wish to waste that valuable time trying to navigate numerous websites for hours to book their travel arrangements. So, they are willing to spend a little extra money to get the services they need and expect.
And now comes another saving grace – professionally managed travel clubs that can book reservations at up to 40% less than the online services offering “lowest price guarantees.” Watch an amazing example in action.
As companies shift the focus of their loyalty reward programs to “empowering” the consumer, Millennials may demand instantaneous gratification from their membership programs. This model may not be sustainable for some companies, including large multinational corporations, who are now turning to professional services that handle all of their travel planning.
Today, new providers work on behalf of associations and corporations to build, fulfill and manage white-labeled, branded travel clubs. This movement in travel planning represents a paradigm shift in the way club members can now book hotels, flights, car rentals and an endless list of other valuable services. Essentially, travelers can expect their loyalty or membership programs to thrive while they experience real savings with little drain on their time.
Loyalty programs offered by major airlines, hotels and retailers will remain a part of what Millennials expect and demand, and that trend will continue today and beyond. However, what will change is the way in which Millennials and others choose to exercise the benefits they earned through loyalty programs, and they will look no further than the professionally managed membership club that they belong to.
At Custom Travel Clubs, we are the leading B2B membership based travel club fulfillment company. We create, operate and help market travel clubs for brands and organizations around the world.
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