Examining Travelers' Hotel Loyalty Program Preferences
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Despite the perception, when it comes to travelers' preferences and behaviors regarding hotel loyalty programs, millennials aren't much different than older generations.
According to a new PwC consumer survey of more than 1,000 business and leisure travelers titled "What's Driving Customer Loyalty for Today's Hotel Brands?," millennial travelers — defined in the study as travelers between the ages of 21 and 29 — belong to three loyalty programs on average, compared to 3.6 for travelers aged 30 and up.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that business travelers, regardless of generation, tend to have more loyalty programs than compared to their leisure traveler counterpart.
What's more, the study found that business travelers redeem their loyalty points more often than leisure travelers, cashing in one to three times last year 52 percent of the time compared to 58 percent of leisure travelers who didn't redeem points at all.
While millennials were slightly more likely to redeem points three or more times last year than other generations, they were also more likely to not redeem their points at all.
When choosing a loyalty program, business and leisure travelers agree that perceived point value is the biggest motivation.
As for what travelers value in a hotel brand, room quality and location are Nos. 1 and 2 among both business and leisure travelers. However business travelers place more value on loyalty benefits than room price since oftentimes their company is flipping the bill.
At the redemption stage, all types of travelers are in agreement that free hotel nights are the most coveted reward. The big difference is that more than one-third of millennials (36 percent) list room upgrades as their second-most preferred reward compared to only 16 percent of other travelers.
For leisure travelers who prefer the sharing economy, Airbnb for example, its often because of value. But more than 50 percent of leisure travelers also say they prefer it because it feels more like home and allows them to discover new places.
Meanwhile, leisure travelers cite convenience as their biggest reason for choosing a hotel, with 80 percent pinpointing the easy booking process and 78 percent pointing to the overall convenience.
More than 50 percent of leisure travelers like the personalized experience that a hotel provides.
In the end, the key takeaways from the study are that millennials aren't so different from other generations of travelers when it comes to their hotel loyalty program preferences and that hotels can provide a known level of quality that travelers can't easily find in the sharing economy.
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