Travelers Use Loyalty Points as Cash Replacements

InterContinental Hotels GroupIn today’s economic climate, travelers are looking more and more to use their loyalty points as cash replacements rather then turn them into miles. This is one of the major conclusions reached in the global travel loyalty industry study released this week by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).

“What we have seen with the recession is that people are more engaged with these programs. They shift their behavior more towards gift cards, gas cards – things they would have bought normally on their own budget. When times are tough, they are looking to loyalty programs to redeem everyday items,” according to Don Berg, vice president of Loyalty Programs and Partherships for IHG.

Another important aspect revealed by IHG’s survey was that business travelers often place more value on loyalty than on price. This happens because most often travel expenses of corporate travelers are charged back to their companies, while they get to decide for themselves which loyalty program fits them better. As a result, the connection between business travelers and such loyalty programs is rate-insensitive.

“91% of them don’t pay for the rooms,” as Berg noted. “It’s a personal decision, and the company rarely gets involved. It’s almost always a personal preference.”

IHG’s study is the result of three years of qualitative and quantitative research conducted on over 10,000 frequent travelers at the group’s chain of hotels or other major hotel companies around the globe.

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