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Is your travel and hospitality loyalty program human-friendly?

May 29, 2019 3 MIN. READ

Check out these highlights from the Humanizing Loyalty report

In today’s travel and hospitality market, customers have more control and choices than ever before. How do brands ensure that they’re going above and beyond to be the top pick for empowered travelers? With seemingly endless competition between travel and hospitality brands and loyalty programs, brands must prove themselves by delivering on the six key drivers of emotional loyalty, uncovered in our Humanizing Loyalty research: trust, reliability, appreciation, empathy, investment and shared values.

Why are thoughtful, well-crafted loyalty efforts important to business success? Seventy-nine percent of people surveyed said they are “extremely loyal” or “very loyal” to the travel brand they use most often in which they are a loyalty program member. Securing a customer’s top spot of most used travel brand and loyalty program, makes it tough for competitors to steal them away. And that’s why it’s crucial to keep those customers happy – to hold on to that top spot. Below are some research highlights that provide insight into traveler expectations and how loyalty can deliver more connected, human experiences.

Loyalty program attributes that are “Delighters” (elements within the program that bring joy) for travel but considered “Cost of Entry” (necessities within a program) for other industries are:

  • The brand is clear about how the program works and what members can get.
  • The brand resolves issues quickly, completely and without question.

This speaks to customers’ need for simplicity, ease, and quick resolutions.

Three program attributes that are Opportunity areas (areas where brands can improve) for travel brands are:

  • The brand understands and anticipates member needs.
  • The program helps members feel special.
  • The brand customizes its program for members’ specific needs.

This highlights the importance of gathering deeper knowledge of your customers’ needs and mindsets, and leveraging data to deliver tailored experiences.

Let’s get personal – heartfelt stories straight from the source

Our research revealed that loyalty programs can help people be heroes to their children, spouse, family or friends.

“I was a struggling single mom and had to travel for work. Because of my membership in the airline’s loyalty program, I was able to use my miles to take my daughter on a vacation that I could have otherwise never afforded. A meaningful, memorable experience for us both!”

- Humanizing Loyalty Survey Respondent

Brands are working harder than ever to ensure their customers feel cared for through technological innovations, partnerships, experiences and more. Delta Air Lines isn’t just sending mobile push alerts to customers, they’re providing real-time communication and information to ensure a better travel experience. Delta has even tested sending digital hotel vouchers to passengers through their app when flights are cancelled.

Hilton Worldwide, an ICF Next client, is taking advantage of technological innovations with its Connected Room. Described as “the first truly mobile-centric hotel room,” the Connected Room builds upon Hilton Honors app’s existing capabilities to allow members to control all aspects of their room, from entertainment to lighting to room service. In today’s digital world, it is crucial that brands implement experiences like these to keep their customer feeling engaged, cared for and loyal.

The travel and hospitality brands winning at loyalty are the ones that demonstrate empathy by understanding their customers’ needs and creating experiences that make their lives easier (and maybe even a bit more enjoyable!).

To learn more about the six key drivers of emotional loyalty and why they are critical to creating an unbreakable bond with customers, check out our complete Humanizing Loyalty report.