Study: Loyalty Programs Driving Factor in Where People Stay

PHOENIX—An insight report commissioned by Best Western Hotels & Resorts and executed by U.S. News & World Report‘s Marketing and Business Intelligence Teams revealed key indicators for how travelers choose the best possible loyalty program, as well as what drives them to book with one hotel brand versus another.

The results, gathered from nearly 1,400 respondents, were released during Best Western’s Leisure Travel Summit in New York City. The study found that for 74% of travelers, a brand’s loyalty program is the significant factor in determining where they stay.

“The results of this study confirm that loyalty programs remain a meaningful, driving factor in customer consideration of hotel brands,” said Dorothy Dowling, SVP/chief marketing officer, Best Western Hotels & Resorts.

If Points Are Earned, Why Should They Expire?

Travelers polled as part of the study overwhelmingly agreed that the ability to earn points that never expire is a key benefit of a loyalty program, making a significant impact on their booking decisions. Similarly, when asked about the most negative aspect of a loyalty program, nearly one-third of respondents cited expiring points as their single-most frustrating factor. In addition, more than half of respondents indicated that they save their points for dream vacations, further underscoring the importance of points not expiring.

Taking Out the Guesswork by Booking Directly

According to travelers polled in this year’s study, the ease of booking direct is critical.

Free Nights and Discounts at All Levels

Ninety-eight percent of respondents indicated that they have used earned points to book hotel stays.

Importance of a Brand You Can Trust

Amidst today’s increasingly competitive hotel landscape, travelers are simplifying and channeling their loyalty, relying on fewer programs for their booking needs. This trend further amplifies the importance of brand trust and reputation. Forty-one percent of study respondents indicated that customer loyalty is bolstered by delivering successful guest experiences with each stay. Another 20% of respondents pointed to having hotels in locations where they travel as an important factor influencing loyalty. Brand trust and location topped all other factors affecting loyalty, including points earning potential.

“The top hotel loyalty programs make it easy for customers to understand the many dimensions of their loyalty programs, including promotions, unique perks and how easily they can reach the next status level,” said Jada A. Graves, managing editor of BrandFuse at U.S. News & World Report. “The results of this survey demonstrate that travelers continue to want tangible benefits in return for their loyalty.”