iSeatz Founder and CEO, Kenneth Purcell, recently spoke at the Loyalty Summit Online: The Future of FFPs on the “Evolution of Mileage Redemption” panel. Joining Kenneth were moderator Bill Hanifin, and co-panelists Thom Kozik and Daniel Kornitzer.
If you registered for the event, you can watch a recording of the panel here.
It was a great discussion about the current landscape of airline mileage rewards programs and what those programs can do to better engage loyalty members and adapt to a changing market. Here are our Top 3 Takeaways from the panel:1. TRAVEL IS REBOUNDING FASTER THAN EXPECTED
Travel is recovering, with rewards travel being the fastest recovering segment. While most predictions slated the fall as the earliest we’d see pre-covid numbers, the reality is much more optimistic. With vaccine rollout, pent-up demand, and point/status expiration looming, travelers are eager to get back out there. Here are some of the travel booking numbers Kenneth shared comparing April 2021 to April 2019:
Total bookings are up 1.23% in April, compared to April 2019 (and more than 1,171% over April 2020). Average booking value is also up over 4%.
Air bookings are still down 17%, but saw the 5th straight month of growth. Average booking value is nearly 18% down from April 2019, but is up almost 10% since January.
Car rentals are up 68% over 2019, with March and April seeing the highest number of bookings than any other time in the last 3 years. Average booking value is also soaring - up over 109%.
Hotel bookings are up almost 17% in April over 2019, holding steady from the month prior. Average booking value is also up from 2019 over 31%.
2. PERSONALIZATION & RELEVANCY
As any marketer will tell you, personalization is the key to increasing conversions, and frankly, consumers have come to expect it. Many rewards programs gather member preferences at the initial sign-up, but as Kenneth pointed out on the panel, those preferences may be outdated for how the member is traveling now. A former frequent business traveler will have different needs now that his travel is primarily leisure trips with his family. How will you ensure that traveler stays loyal to your program? An offer for lounge access or seat upgrade may be less relevant to that traveler than a point earn or redemption opportunity for tours and activities to do with his family.3. BETTER EVERYDAY EARN
A theme that was touched upon throughout the conversation was the need to engage travelers when they’re not traveling. Many airlines rely on a co-branded credit card to serve that purpose, but the panelists all agreed that isn’t enough. Food delivery is a great example of a loyalty integration that engages travelers at home and on the road, is relevant to their lives and the current environment, and is a surging market. While food delivery orders have leveled off a bit from their peak in April 2020, they are still tracking 30-40% above 2019 orders and most experts predict that food and grocery delivery will continue to maintain an increased level popularity in the future.
As you can see from the numbers above, the future of travel is bright. It’s a unique opportunity for airlines and other travel loyalty providers to maximize member engagement and get a larger share of wallet from travelers who are ready and willing to spend.
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