It’s not just the travel companies’ bank accounts getting hit in this market – loyalty programs are getting spanked, too. The management consultants, investment bankers and attorneys – now fewer in number than a year ago – who accumulate elite status quickly aren’t spending as much time on the road. With considerably less travel time being logged, the folks who used to have platinum status on multiple airlines and in multiple hotels aren’t hitting the same levels they have for the past several years.
A study by Colloquy, which conducts marketing research for loyalty programs, showed that loyalty program membership dropped 28 percent in the travel industry. In 2007, the average traveler belonged to 2.8 of these programs. Now, it’s down to merely two. Lower- and middle-income men are being cited as the source of the decline, as they’ve been hit harder by layoffs.
Additionally, active participation in loyalty programs is down almost a third. This year, the average traveler is participating actively in 1.5 programs – a year ago, it was 2.2. Among the wealthy, this type of engagement fell 13 percent – from 2.3 programs down to two.
According to Colloquy, travelers are focusing on fewer programs and looking to get as much as they can out of them, rather than spread around their travel with the knowledge that they’ll have enough to reach and maintain high statuses with several travel companies.