Unlocking Travel Riches: The Ultimate Guide to Loyalty Rewards in 2024

Loyalty program membership is a standout benefit among the many travel perks that can help you save money or enjoy complimentary upgrades. The second annual Travel Rewards and Loyalty Reports from Barclays US Consumer Bank examine the loyalty programs and benefits most commonly utilized by travelers, emphasizing their importance in the travel sector.

The Significance of Being a Loyalty Program Member

A survey by Wakefield Research found that 77% of 1,000 US travelers are currently enrolled in a travel loyalty program. These travelers have flown at least once in the past year and plan to do so again in the next 12 months. Additionally, 89% have been part of a loyalty program at some point in their lives. 

The types of programs include:

  • Airlines
  • Car Rentals
  • Cruise Lines
  • Hotels
  • Online Booking Sites

Approximately 51% of people participate to earn airline rewards, 43% for hotel rewards, and 30% for booking site rewards. Cruise and car rental programs have the fewest members due to their limited travel opportunities.

Of the travelers presently registered in loyalty programs, 76% express difficulty in envisioning their current level of travel without the associated benefits. The absence of rewards could necessitate switching travel providers, opting for more economical accommodations, shortening the duration of trips, or selecting less convenient modes of travel.

Millennials exhibit the highest propensity for enrolling in loyalty programs, boasting an 83% enrollment rate, compared to an average of 75% for Gen X, Gen Z, and Baby Boomers. Moreover, Millennials demonstrate a heightened likelihood of traveling this year.

Top Travel Loyalty Rewards

Considering the widespread presence and advantageous offerings of travel loyalty programs, a substantial 77% of respondents foresee an uptick in their travel activities in 2024 compared to the preceding year. Among these travelers, 79% express a preference for leisure trips, while 21% are inclined towards business-related travel.

In light of these insights, below are the most desired benefits, organized according to their level of demand:

  • The ability to earn and redeem rewards holds a significant weight, with 70% of respondents emphasizing its importance.
  •  Lowering costs, minimizing fees, and guaranteeing low rates are priorities for 58% of participants. Elite status or perks such as free checked bags and priority boarding are favored by 55% of those surveyed.
  •  Improving the travel experience through upgrades and lounge access is valued by 51% of travelers. 
  • Access to exclusive experiences like concerts and events is considered important by 29% of respondents. 

Travel points stand out as the most valuable benefit of loyalty programs or credit card rewards, with 65% designated for flights and 54% for hotel stays.

Highly Valued Travel Loyalty Rewards

It’s no surprise that airline miles rank as the most prized form of travel rewards. A significant 89% of travelers express the importance of points in shaping their preferred travel style.

Here’s how travel rewards contribute to award travel:

  • Airline miles (69%)
  • Hotel points (60%)
  • Car rentals (37%)
  • Cruise lines (26%)

Generally, airline and hotel points offer the highest value. They are often easier to earn or redeem due to the abundance of travel options available for both domestic and international trips.

The majority of survey respondents (72%) intend to use their travel rewards for domestic trips within the United States this year, with a notable uptick in international travel. The favored foreign destinations include Europe (29%), the Caribbean (23%), and either Canada or Mexico (22%).

Top Travel Bargains

Travel rewards points are highly valued, but there are several other non-point rewards that members find beneficial. Among elite members and those with travel credit cards, the most popular perks include:

  1. Hotel discounts (71%)
  2. Flight upgrades (70%)
  3. Priority boarding (60%)

Furthermore, those who travel frequently, averaging at least five flights annually, often perceive the highest value from these travel rewards.

Business Travel: A Highly Rewarding Experience

The range of advantages provided by these perks enables a majority of survey participants to derive more value from their rewards programs than they invest in them. The success rates vary depending on the type of travel and the generation:

  • Business travelers achieve an 84% success rate, compared to 67% for leisure travelers.
  • Millennials attain a success rate of 79%.
  • Travel credit cardholders experience a success rate of 72%.

Despite business travel being less frequent than leisure travel, individuals who are able to arrange work trips find loyalty memberships and travel points to be particularly rewarding.

Concluding Remarks

Every travel loyalty scheme presents distinct advantages, options for redeeming points, and diverse destination selections. Opting for the right program can significantly improve the quality and frequency of your travels. For more information, refer to the comprehensive survey outcomes.

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