Loyalty Program Membership Reaches an All-time High

As the hospitality industry continues to recover from the economic downturn, a new report showed that the share of loyalty program members is still rising online and that it reached an all-time high in Q4, for both leisure and business travelers. The data is from iPerceptions Inc., a web-focused consumer analytics firm, and part of its Hospitality and Tourism Industry Report for Q4 2010.

The recent economic downturn saw many travel providers leveraging their loyalty programs in an effort to stimulate bookings and brand loyalty, iPerceptions says. However the share of loyalty program members online has consistently increased, from 62 percent in Q1, to 64 percent in Q2, to 66 percent in Q3, to an impressive 71 percent in Q4 2010.

While membership was more prevalent among business travelers, uptake was significantly stronger among leisure travelers in Q4. With leisure travelers typically more impacted by budget restrictions, it stands to reason that they would join loyalty programs in order to capitalize on promotions and maximize value, iPerceptions said.

"What’s interesting is that while we see more and more loyalty program members online, they are just as motivated as ever to find the best value for their travel dollars, often visiting multiple websites before securing the best deal," said Claude Guay, president and CEO of iPerceptions. "With membership so strong among business travelers, who spend significantly more than leisure travelers, hospitality brands would do well to provide them with the specific information they are looking for, in order to encourage loyalty."

The report analyzed immediate post-experience feedback from more than 100,000 people visiting over 100 hospitality and tourism sites to identify the most important online issues and trends facing this unique industry.

Other important findings from the report:
• The share of visitors who came to make a reservation decreased from 31 percent in Q3 to 28 percent in Q4, while the share of visitors who came for an ‘other’ reason increased, perhaps as a result of more loyalty program members looking to complete membership-type tasks such as joining, checking their balance, etc.
• Business travelers had difficulties finding answers to specific questions regarding shuttle service, parking, conference rooms and distance to their meetings
• The share of visitors staying at mid-scale hotels increased from 39 percent in Q3 to 43 percent in Q4, taking away from the share of visitors staying at economy hotels
• Price concerns increased significantly from 14 percent in Q3 to 21 percent in Q4, however many of the technical problems that prevailed in Q3 appear to have been resolved in Q4
Data contained in the Hospitality & Tourism Industry Report for Q4 2010 represents aggregated information obtained from iPerceptions’ enterprise solution webValidator and free 4Q surveys deployed on the websites of many leading hospitality brands.

The full report can be found on the iPerceptions website: http://www.iperceptions.com/resource-center/.

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