Customizing Travel Rewards for Younger Travelers

As much as would be travelers’ value cheap travel optionssuch as cheapairplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, and cheap vacation packages,rewards being offered by travel companies are also playing a large role inwhich companies travelers are making reservations with.

America’s younger generations desire to travel and traveloften.  A recent survey found that overhalf of Millennials (55 percent) are planning on traveling more over the next12 months, compared to 31 percent from Generation X and 20 percent of Baby Boomers.

Millennials are also redeeming more travel rewards than anyother generation.  Research has foundthat the travel industry’s traditional points and miles-based rewards programsdo not always match up well with the desires of younger travelers.

This is beginning to change as new companies enter the marketto attempt to address the needs of younger travelers while traditional programsare expanding in new directions.

As Millennial and Gen X consumers reach the income and agethresholds where travel becomes more financially possible and frequent, theyare bringing their own attitudes to loyalty, rewards, and other incentiveprograms.  Lack of flexibility andtransparency of the value of loyalty points are some of the aspects oftraditional rewards programs that do not sit well with younger travelers. 

Millennials are looking for more flexibility.  Traditional rewards programs basically locktheir members into buying from one brand and then spending the rewards backwith that one brand.  This has oftenresulted in it taking a long time to both earn and redeem rewards, and theredemption options over the years have diminished.

The rewards programs of select major airlines and hotels aretaking steps to satisfy their members who are looking for greaterflexibility.  British Airways ExecutiveClub members can now use Avios, its own rewards currency, to select andpurchase airline seats, make duty-free purchases, and book cruises.

Marriott’s new Bonvoy program has expanded its rewardsofferings to allow travelers to bid on over 120,000 experiences, including theCoachella music festival and others aimed at younger travelers. 

Millennials are constantly looking for products andaccessories that let them blur the line between work and play.  What they desire today may be different fromwhat they want tomorrow, so choice and flexibility are what they highly value.

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