Loss of Loyalty Programs a Major Concern

It may no longer be a stretch to say travelers are married to their frequent traveler programs, Starwood notes, reporting that 73 percent of travelers would choose loyalty-program benefits over a spouse if they could take just one on the road. This is according to an eye-opening survey of nearly 10,000 globetrotters released today by Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG).

Relationships with hotel loyalty programs may even outlive marital unions, the survey said.  Seventy-six percent of respondents revealed they felt their status in a hotel loyalty program would last longer than their marriage or current job.  And, in a travel emergency, 70 percent of respondents said that their elite status in a hotel loyalty rewards program would be handier than their smartphone, tablet or even their personal assistant.

 The Starwood study, commissioned to celebrate the launch of a suite of distinct benefits for Starwood Preferred Guest Members, polled 9,900 adults around the world who travel more than 25 times a year.

Three-quarters of respondents would take extra trips to bump up status: The new survey demonstrates the value members attach to loyalty programs like Starwood Preferred Guest.  Seventy-four percent of respondents said they would take an extra trip just to rack up miles or status in a loyalty program.  And nearly the same number, 73 percent said they’ve taken extra business trips solely to rack up miles or status in a loyalty program. 

“Honeymoon”?  “Emergency”?  Respondents would try subterfuge to get upgrades: Respondents were not above telling little white lies to get a better hotel room or hotel/airline travel upgrade, Starwood said  Nearly half of respondents, 45 percent, claimed they would pretend it was their honeymoon; 25 percent would pretend they had a family emergency; and 20 perent would pretend to be someone important.

Among other key findings:
    •    If they could only take one item with them while traveling, most respondents would take their benefits in a hotel loyalty rewards program (73 percent), rather than their spouse/partner (15 percent) or luggage (11 percent).
    •    Losing their status in a hotel loyalty program (65 percent) scares respondents more than lost luggage (12 percent) or missing a flight (11 percent).
    •    The survey reinforces that hotel loyalty rewards programs have eclipsed other rewards programs in value.  Half of respondents said they consider hotel loyalty programs most important, followed by credit-card (19 percent) and airline loyalty programs (13 percent).
Starwood Preferred Guest  has had strong  growth in 2011, Starwood reports, with SPG bookings now accounting for one of every two guests at Starwood properties; just five years ago, that figure was one in three.

The survey was conducted for Starwood Preferred Guest 9,900 adults across the globe who travel 25 times or more per year.    Interviews were conducted between January 1st and January 9th, 2012.

Visit www.starwood.com.