Survey Says: Loyalty Programs Affect Travel Decisions

Survey Says: Loyalty Programs Affect Travel Decisions

A new survey put out by Accenture could be a boon for the airline and travel industry, which has lost hundreds of millions of dollars this year.

In August, Accenture queried more than 950 business travelers at U.S.-based companies to find out if travel will pick up this year, and what helps these travelers make their decisions.

A majority, 68 percent, responded that loyalty programs from hotels, airlines and a combination of both influenced their travel decisions.

The survey also concludes that 35 percent of the travelers expected their travel to pick up between the summer and then end of the first quarter of 2003, when compared to the first six months of 2002. This is compared to the 40 percent who said travel would remain the same and 25 percent who expected it to decline.

“We’re seeing many positive indicators that business travel is rebounding and returning to normal levels prior to September 11 last year,” said Julian Sparkes, a partner in Accenture’s Transportation and Travel Service Industry group. “However, the travel industry is undergoing a period of significant transition and redefinition and it must understand that the business traveler is reshaping the industry due to a number of choices for air carriers and hotels available.”

The study also found:

  • 13 percent said they have increased their use of low-cost carriers over the past six months, while 17 percent said their use will increase in the next six months.

  • 57 percent said they plan to stay at mid-range hotels, while 16 percent said they plan to stay at luxury chains. The former could be a boon for LaQuinta, a mid-range hotel chain, which recently partnered with three airlines and completely overhauled its awards program.

“In a world of increasing competition and declining profits, airlines and hotels must look at their business models and rethink the way they deliver services and generate growth,” said Sparkes. “The future leaders of the travel industry will ultimately be those who can strengthen customer loyalty to grow revenues.”

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