Marketing
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Aug 12, 2019

6 Ways to Launch a Successful Loyalty Program in the Travel Industry

Ioana Maftei
Marketing Manager
7
Min to read

Why should you consider implementing innovative loyalty campaigns in the travel industry?

The tourism sector has become a fierce competitive landscape, with a substantial increase in new customers in all its industries such as airline companies, hospitality businesses, or travel insurance companies.

The dynamic nature of this sector has led to increased flexibility in loyalty and reward program offerings that is influential in retaining customers.

However, the multifaceted nature of loyalty and reward programs can, sometimes, make it difficult to connect with your customers on an emotional level, or to increase customer retention in the long run.

As a result, attracting and retaining loyal customers in the travel sector has become a continuous developing process that goes beyond discounted and non-monetary rewards.

In a nutshell, innovative loyalty campaigns can:

84% of consumers are more drawn to a brand that offers a loyalty program and 66 % of customers mention the ability to gain rewards influences their spending behaviour. -Nielsen

Whether you are starting from scratch or updating your existing loyalty programs, we share 6 creative ways that can guide you through a successful and unique loyalty program.

1. Use loyalty points to create memorable experiences with your brand

Especially in the travel industry, you have to build an emotional connection between unconventional elements that satisfy and encourage your customers to choose and stay loyal to your brand.

Your target audience is very diverse, and your aim is to add customer value to each travel experience and to each target audience.

This is a perfect way to build your company as a true brand ambassador.

Example: When your customers book a flight, offer them loyalty points that can be redeemed over a specific period of time, and can ensure them a bigger discount on a trip to a different destination of their choice.

Sponsoring a trip to a different place can seem like a big investment at the beginning, but the loyalty of your customers will pay off in the long run.

2. Reward all referral engagement with your brand

Loyalty programs and friend referrals go hand in hand in the travel sector.

There must be a continuous innovation process for the creation and implementation of loyalty campaigns to break through the highly competitive landscape in the travel industry, and to attract and retain loyal customers.

Referral programs can be implemented in various creative ways.

Think of social media referrals, influencer referrals or mobile referral programs.

In this article, you can find some inspiration ideas to design your referral campaigns.

A great way to boost customer loyalty is to reward all engagement activities like social media shares.

Make joining your brand a breeze and think of using social media channels like Facebook and Instagram for the sign in.

Reward each share of the referrers on social media channels with a 15% discount on the next purchase.

76% of travelers decide on their travel destination and the services they use based on their friends recommendations. -Hospitalitynet
Millenials: the power of loyalty
Source: Hospitalitynet

Example: Let each customer invite 5-10 friends per year on social media channels and reward the referrer with 2,000 points.

You can also give 1,000 bonus points or a 25% discount if a customer stays at a hotel you partner with for two or three more days.

If you own a hotel, you can encourage repeat visits and gain new customers if the existing customers refer 5 friends the first 7 days.

Reward the referrers with 2,000 points for their next visit to your hotel.

Think creatively and implement loyalty campaigns with the most powerful API-based promotion platform.

3. Offer discounts for other brands - partner up with hotels and restaurants

Partnering with other brands in the travel sector means both parties are able to significantly increase the value customers get out of their loyalty program.

Customers can earn points and discounts for other frequently used services.

Example: You can partner up with hotels that offer a free night for the next holiday, if the customer has already collected 15,000 points.

Or offer a 25% discount for the whole hotel stay for 20,000 points accumulated.

4. Launch customer loyalty programs for multiple buyer personas

Forget about one-size-fits-all loyalty marketing campaigns in the travel industry.

Build your customer loyalty programs in a strategic manner that targets multiple buyer personas.

That way, you can increase customer retention, and improve customer satisfaction which in the long run leads to increased business revenue.

Millennials tend to go on weekend trips more often during the year than other customer targets, who prefer planning full week holidays instead.

Statistics Image: Millenials preferences
Source: Hospitalitynet
68% will remain loyal to a program that offers them the most rewards like cash/freebies, upgrades, discounts. -Hospitalitynet

Embrace spontaneity and implement flash sales on airline tickets, time-limited discounts and hotel deals for one-night-only, as well as last minute ticket sales for different destinations.

5. Appeal to your customers values and sense of worth

An innovative and creative loyalty program takes the focus away from “pushing” the customers to spend more.

The re-centered goal is to create meaningful value for customers.

Be authentic when you create loyalty campaigns for your brand! When your customers purchase a flight ticket or book a room at your hotel, consider offering them the possibility to become a temporary or a lifetime member of a sports club or camp in the area they travel to.

Example: For a one-time price, they can participate in group hiking trips, biking tours, adventure classes, or can get expert advice on particular trails.

In the long run, your new customers can become repeat customers which will increase your business revenue.

In this way, your brand shows that you cultivate values beyond ordinary purchases that your customers actually resonate with.

Another great way to customize unique loyalty programs is to go beyond monetary incentives that can make a real difference on a global scale.

You can donate a percentage of the flight ticket your customer buys to international organisations that tackle various social inequalities or even give your customers the choice of charity on your platform.

With Talon.One, you can easily implement a loyalty campaign that also embraces social causes.

6. Reward loyal customers based on their spend

How do you reward different spending groups in the travel industry?

Rewarding your customers based on their spend will establish their loyalty to your travel brand in the long run.

A welcome voucher or a discount sets the tone for a new customer to join your airline company, for instance.

After this, rewards should keep flowing for the customer to become a repeat customer, and eventually a VIP customer.

Understanding your customer is table stakes.

Tip: Offer your VIP customers more loyalty points for each ticket purchase together with other exclusive perks like free gifts in partnership with other brands that can satisfy your customers needs.

Example: Think, for instance, of offering 3,000 points for a flight ticket purchase to your VIP customers and a free gift in partnership with a retail brand that sells sports apparel.

Members can get access to more rewards when they spend different amounts within specified levels.

This will encourage high-spenders to come back to your brand and purchase more which guarantees a sustainable brand loyalty program.

Curated experiences build a stronger bond between your customers and your brand.

In this article, you can read a short summary on the most common loyalty program types that can suit the needs of your business model.

Takeaway

Given the fierce competitive landscape in the travel industry, you should provide that extra value to customers that motivates them to choose your brand over your competitors, and plant innovative incentives throughout their journey that help you earn their loyalty in the long term. That way, you can turn the tables.

Ready to reward and engage your customers?

If you would like to see how a loyalty program can help you take your customer retention strategy further, book a live demo with Talon.One, and we will guide you through each step that will help your brand stay ahead of the competition.

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