PHOENIX, Ariz.–A new 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 loyalty programs, as well as what drives them to book with one hotel brand versus another. Of nearly 1,400 respondents, 74 percent reported that a brand’s loyalty program is a 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,” Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Best Western Hotels & Resorts.
Travelers polled as part of the study 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. Nearly all respondents indicated that they have used earned points to book hotel stays.
As the hotel landscape grows more competitive, 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 percent 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 quest for customer insights has always been a focal point for Best Western, and the desire to keep our finger on the pulse of what travelers are looking for is in our DNA,” Dowling says. “Our co-branded study with U.S. News & World Report has provided invaluable information which we will use to further enhance and refine our offerings. Best Western will continue to seek out opportunities to understand and meet the needs of our customers at every point in their journey and to maintain our position as a loyalty leader and innovator.”
This year marks the second year Best Western Hotels & Resorts has worked with U.S. News & World to obtain insights from travelers about loyalty programs in general as well as specific information related to its own loyalty program, Best Western Rewards (BWR), including desirable program features, consumer preferences, and potential enhancement areas. Last year, Best Western Hotels & Resorts launched a refresh of BWR as part of the brand’s transformation.
“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,” Jada A. Graves, managing editor of BrandFuse at U.S. News & World Report, says. “The results of this survey demonstrate that travelers continue to want tangible benefits in return for their loyalty. It’s encouraging that companies like Best Western are working to find new ways to appeal to today’s customers.”