Survey Reveals Millennial Travelers' Loyalty Preferences

As millennials increasingly impact market trends across industries, PwC US has released a new report as a part of its ongoing Consumer Intelligence Series titled, “What’s driving customer loyalty for today’s hotel brands?” This report, which reveals findings from a survey of more than 1,000 business and leisure travelers, examines if millennials’ preferences regarding hotel loyalty programs differ from other demographics, and what significance these shifting consumer preferences will have on the future of the travel and leisure industry.
The PwC CIS survey found that millennial leisure travelers had the fewest hotel loyalty program memberships, with an average of 2.3. While millennials have had less time to accrue loyalty memberships, this demographic is also the most likely to take part in The Sharing Economy in lieu of hotels, when it comes to leisure travel. While all demographics said they would most prefer to spend their points on extra hotel nights, 36% of millennial travelers chose room upgrades as their second preferred reward – underscoring their preference for experiences – compared with only 16% of other travelers.
But the differences in loyalty preferences uncovered in the survey were not significant enough to suggest a vast difference between millennials and 30+ travelers. In fact, the tendency to over-index for millennials might well ignore a larger macro trend that spans millennials and beyond.
As Spring travel season draws near, unique guest experiences and engagement through innovative experiential offerings will continue to be an important factor in driving guest loyalty and brand commitment now and into the future. Hotel companies should continually assess their overall loyalty programs, as well as their ability to create special moments that drive loyalty.
Cater to both business and leisure travelers in a customized manner. While leisure travelers are more price-sensitive, business travelers are looking for the most advantageous points offerings for use on a future personal trip. Brands are well advised to tailor benefits and loyalty programs accordingly.
Recognize all age groups to shape and implement loyalty programs. While millennials are driving rapid change across industries, their attitudes and behaviors toward loyalty programs are not unique. The survey found that while some preferences may vary, millennials’ criteria for a desirable hotel loyalty program is closely aligned with older age demographics.
Hospitality companies should consider aligning with sharing economy partners for unique guest experiences and opportunities. Among millennials enthusiastic about the sharing economy, 60% said this was largely due to a thirst for adventure. For both business and leisure travelers, the option of staying at a sharing-economy property becomes more feasible when it is combined with a recognizable hotel brand. All leisure travelers in PwC’s focus group said they would stay more frequently at a sharing economy property if they could also generate hotel brand loyalty points for their stays.
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