Winter Travel Season Looks Good: Loyalty Programs a Key Differentiator for High-End Consumers

Winter Travel Season Looks Good: Loyalty Programs a Key Differentiator for High-End Consumers

The U.S. tourism and hospitality market looks strong this winter, with 36 percent of nearly 16,000 U.S. consumers planning to take a long-distance trip of 250 miles or more, according to a consumer survey commissioned by Deloitte & Touche USA LLP.

In the organization’s first survey tracking consumers’ tourism and hospitality plans for this holiday season, nearly half (46 percent) of those respondents traveling are staying at least one night in a hotel. Interestingly, 47 percent of those planning to increase their spending this year are also planning on taking a long-distance trip, while more than half (55 percent) of those consumers polled that earn more than $100,000 in household income plan to travel as well.

“As part of our nineteenth annual holiday survey, we measured consumers’ total spending plans for this holiday season. Second to purchasing gifts, socializing away from home is the next largest category that will capture the greatest percent of consumers’ spending this holiday season,” noted Tara Weiner, vice chairman and national managing partner of the consumer business industries practice at Deloitte & Touche USA LLP. “Over the years, we’ve been monitoring this trend toward increased spending on services and experiences during the holidays. This is the first year we have specifically asked about travel plans, and the responses suggest that many consumers will indeed be spending a good part of their holiday budgets on services related to long-distance travel.”

This survey was conducted online by research firm Ipsos-NPD from October 13 through October 25. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

For leisure travelers, location and price are still their number one factors when choosing a hotel, while brand (36 percent), service (34 percent) and loyalty program (20 percent) were other major factors. Those in the $100,000 household income bracket are more apt to favor loyalty programs, with 34 percent citing this as a factor.

“There is a message here for the industry, in that high net-worth consumers are continuing to embrace loyalty programs. The survey results show that those earning above $100,000 in household income, on average, belong to two hotel and airline loyalty programs – more than double the average for all other consumers. While this should not be a surprise, the industry needs to further enhance its customer programs to hit this profitable niche,” said Adam Weissenberg, national managing partner of Deloitte & Touche USA’s tourism, hospitality and leisure group.

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