Friday, March 31, 2023
HomeTravelWhen does travel brand loyalty make sense?

When does travel brand loyalty make sense?

Loyalty to travel brands is nothing new. Ever since Texas International Airlines and American Airlines launched their first frequent flyer programs in the late 1970s and early 1980s, travelers have been accumulating miles, striving for elite status and pouring their airfare into brands that offer the most perks.

However, sticking to a single airline, hotel, or car rental program comes with built-in limitations. On the one hand, it means limiting the comparison offer, which can effectively increase prices. For example, a person who is loyal to Delta Air Lines might pay $100 more to fly on Delta to earn miles and status. Is this compromise worth it?

“It must be a really good deal for me to fly on another airline,” says Joanne Herd, a travel consultant at Girasole Travel, a luxury travel booking service that has been loyal to American Airlines for years.

She recently took a business class flight with Singapore Airlines because it cost thousands of dollars less than an American Airlines partner.

“I almost regretted it because I barely got the status I wanted,” she says.

Dealing with these tradeoffs is particularly difficult for semi-frequent flyers, who may not travel enough to earn high-level elite status perks but still want to earn and use miles. Earning a few hundred points from a few loyalty programs might be more trouble than it’s worth, but sticking to one program can limit travel opportunities.

So you can decide if it makes sense to go monogamous with a travel brand.

Big payouts for big donors

Travel brands like United Airlines and Marriott run their loyalty programs for one simple reason: they want to attract affluent customers, particularly business travelers. To that end, loyalty programs will give travelers benefits in proportion to how often they travel (and how much they spend).

This may sound simple, but it impacts the value of these programs for frequent travelers versus leisure travelers. For example, according to a NerdWallet analysis, a traveler with the lowest Hilton status gets about $2 back for every $100 spent, while someone with the highest status gets about $49 for every $100 spent.

This is a huge gap and shows that the juice might not be worth the pressure for low status. Katy Nastro, travel expert at flight deals website Going, stressed that the same is true of an airline’s elite status, which disproportionately rewards high rollers.

“It takes many short flights to even reach the bottom rung of the ladder,” Nastro said in an email. “So you may be giving up cheaper – and potentially better flights – for the potential of future reward.”

Because the perks are so valuable to frequent travelers, it almost always makes sense for them to maintain some loyalty to the trip, even at the expense of convenience.

Other trade-offs to consider

While limiting your loyalty to a single travel brand can offer benefits for frequent travelers, it also has hidden disadvantages. Claire Sturzaker, who writes about travel on her blog Tales of a Backpacker, started traveling for a living seven years ago. But despite her good status as a frequent traveler, she mostly avoids loyalty programs and the hamster wheel of elite status.

“I want something different when I travel; That’s why I travel,” she says. “I’d rather stay in a small guest house. I know the money goes back to the community I am in and not a huge global company.”

Sturzaker acknowledges that chain hotels offer reliability and convenience, but says those aren’t usually their top priorities. And she enjoys visiting off-the-beaten-track destinations that are not served by a single airline alliance. Instead, she tries to fly non-stop with low-cost airlines whenever possible.

So who should bother with travel elite status programs? The travelers they were designed for – frequent business travelers. Semi-frequent travelers who make a few trips a year could benefit from loyalty, but these benefits are often offset by the higher costs of restricting shopping.

And by sticking with a single brand, you may miss out on the most magical aspect of travel – the unexpected.

“I stayed in a family home in a small village in Honduras, run by a couple and three boys,” says Sturzaker. “During my stay there was a power cut so we all just sat around and talked. That would never happen at a Hilton.”

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

TOI.NEWS Travel Click here

Follow and Subscribe to Our YouTube, Instagram and Twitter – TwitterYoutube and Instagram.

News & Image Credit – Click Here

Hurry Up!

TOI News TOI.News
TOI News TOI.News
We are TOI.News and we provide Top Latest Breaking News of Entertainment, Game Guide, Sports News, etc.

Leave a Reply

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments