Travellers’ choice for 2024 is based on the cost of loyalty and transparency


-In 2024, booking travel still presents challenges such as price fluctuations, hidden fees, uncertain cancellation policies, noisy online platforms and poor customer service add to the complexity. Brands that strike a balance between security, transparency and tailored offerings are poised for success in the evolving landscape of travel booking. Overcoming travel booking fatigue requires a re-evaluation of basic principles and a focus on identifying what customers are willing to pay for in terms of service and curation.

Leading financial institutions like American Express, Revolut and JPMorgan Chase have entered the field by providing premium benefits and/or travel discounts to specific audiences. Neobanks with subscription models are taking it a step further, capitalizing on unique upsell propositions. While paid loyalty programs in travel are still niche, they represent the most profitable and engaging approach at the pinnacle of the loyalty ladder.

As technology evolves, custom software solutions enable brands to capture revenue and customer engagement opportunities efficiently, in their ecosystem, ushering in a new era of travel loyalty and with limited resources needed.

Launching personalized paid programs or implementing discount clubs based on customer data can be a rewarding strategy. Brands can tailor promotions, discounts and experiences to individual preferences, making customers feel valued. Instant gratification is crucial in the transformed landscape of travel loyalty as many consumers are shifting their focus away from earning points as the sole determinant of where they spend their travel dollars.

Successful programs combine immediate discounts with long-term rewards, keeping members engaged and motivated to spend more. Having the capability to truly balance how value should be distributed for a specific program is a major step toward differentiation.

Today’s travelers demand tailored experiences, with 80% expecting personalization from their preferred brands. Accessibility across various channels and a focus on in-person interactions deepen customer engagement. This enables customers to engage with the program seamlessly, regardless of their preferred platform. According to Zendesk Trends 2024, 60% of consumers make purchases based on expected service levels, a particularly relevant factor in the complex travel industry. A robust artificial intelligence strategy complements the human touch, merging online and in-person experiences, making it essential when selecting a travel partner.

The same or elevated customer support levels can translate into giving access to a knowledgeable agent before a booking is completed or allowing communications and notifications to be omnichannel and personalized. While this human touch is essential, a powerful artificial intelligence strategy will help merge what happens online and in person. In a word, it should be a priority when selecting a travel partner to ensure that this level of service is available.

Travel club builders and custom software companies can enhance loyalty experiences by offering end-to-end solutions. Access to a wide range of benefits beyond travel insurance or affiliate travel deals fosters an emotional bond with customers daily, making the program more than just another loyalty club. Providing concierge assistance every day of the year and access to discounts on restaurants, theme parks and activities close to home are a few options among many to consider.

In summary, a differentiated travel experience, including diverse benefits, opportunities for earning and redeeming rewards and elevated customer assistance, is worth the investment.

Lastly but most importantly, securing recurring revenue based on access rather than transactions mitigates risks associated with seasonality and economic factors.

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