This is the latest installment of our monthly Travel Expert Index. For more TEI coverage, click here. 

Loyalty. It’s a term that’s often used in the travel industry. For certain segments, like airlines, repeat customers often bring in the majority of revenue. Other areas, like hotels, enjoy a high level of loyalty across multiple brands. Yet loyalty is not a panacea. In fact, some experts are questioning how loyalty impacts the bottom line — and what businesses should do to balance loyalty within the overall marketing mix.

The best strategy is to consider your business holistically and be aware of making blanket proclamations that diminish the unique profile of your customers. Not every customer is the same — and each customer most certainly expects to feel valued. Loyalty programs have traditionally been an incentive to capture more data from customers. As personalization studies have shown, customers are more willing than ever to share data for an improved experience.

Chris Ulph, senior marketing and e-commerce consultant at Sabre, emphasizes that this holistic view is essential for an integrated loyalty program:

A richer, more connected traveller experience and end-to-end customer engagement is fast becoming the bedrock of how loyalty is earned in the travel industry. Customer data needs to be the force behind this evolution.

Each business has the chance to boost loyalty not only through effective marketing but also through a well-crafted customer experience. By combining data around customer preferences with its operations, a business can deliver on a brand promise that encourages repeat patronage.

The technology underpinning the relationships with customers is the most valued player in the evolving loyalty ecosystem. As Ulph concludes, the most effective way to manage the 1:1 relationship with customers is to ensure an aligned customer relationship management strategy.

It’s the ability to segment and dynamically customise your value proposition that will yield the best results, especially given the ability of modern technologies to interpret behaviour, track and subsequently distribute content to loyalty scheme members.

The Travel Expert Index on loyalty in travel

We asked our Travel Expert Index their thoughts about the state of loyalty in travel. Click the infographic below for the full view, and then pop over to Twitter to share your answers on the first and second questions.

Not one respondent says that travel companies are “very successful” at using data to drive #loyalty


For more Travel Expert Index coverage, click here.