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U.S. News & World Report, Best Western Release Co-Branded Hotel Loyalty Program Study

An insight report by U.S. News & World Report’s Marketing and Business Intelligence Teams and Best Western Hotels & Resorts was released during Best Western’s 12th annual Leisure Travel Summit in New York, NY.  The result of a study commissioned by Best Western and executed by U.S. News & World Report’s Marketing and Business Intelligence Teams, the report shares data-driven insights into how today’s travelers make their loyalty program decisions.  The results, gathered from more than 1,000 respondents, found that the expiration of points, ease of point redemption, guaranteed room availability and brand trust are key factors shaping the current hotel loyalty landscape.
If Points Are Earned, Why Should They Expire?
Based on the results of the co-branded study, the ability to earn points that never expire is a key benefit of loyalty programs.  In fact, when asked what travelers find most frustrating about loyalty programs, a full one-third stated expiring points is their biggest pet peeve, compared to 19% for program complexity (ability to increase program status), and 16% for blackout dates or lack of free night availability. Of the brands surveyed, only Best Western offers points that don’t expire.  AAA members, a key partner of Best Western, were especially concerned about expiring points.
It’s All About Free Nights
Loyalty programs are paramount to brands as they provide a way to effectively retain guests for future stays.  And, travelers are cognizant of the amount of points needed to earn a free night. The study found that 86% of respondents use earned points to book hotel stays, and 63% agree that free night redemption is the most appealing loyalty program feature.  Ninety-five percent state that rewards programs are a key influencer of their booking decisions. 
The Best of the Best
Respondents who are members of several loyalty programs recognize Best Western Rewards as better than other loyalty programs included in the survey.  The program was the “preferred program” for 35% of respondents.  And, loyalty program members find it easier to redeem Best Western points relative to other programs.  In fact, 74% find it easier to redeem Best Western Rewards points compared to 68% for Marriott Rewards and 67% for Hilton Honors.
Best Western Rewards is especially regarded with respondents under the age of 40.   And, nearly half of Best Western Rewards members are aware of the program’s recent refresh – particularly younger business travelers, and for this group, features related to free nights are a critical driver of future loyalty.
Importance of a Brand you can “Trust”
Over the past few years, brand loyalty programs have become more competitive and travelers are relying on fewer programs.   This escalates the importance of the brand and trust in the brand.  Forty-four percent of respondents felt trust in a brand offering great service was the #1 loyalty program feature when booking a hotel room and another 19% pointed to having hotels in locations there they travel as important.  These reasons surpassed both points needed for free nights, and points earned for hotel stays. 
“The results of this study demonstrate precisely why we have made loyalty such a focus for our company, continuing to enhance our Best Western Rewards (BWR) offerings and working to stay ahead of the game in this area.  We want to provide today’s travelers with one of the best loyalty programs in the industry and we believe this study shows that we do,” said Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president and CMO for Best Western Hotels & Resorts. “As part of our recent BWR refresh, we’ve taken an award-winning product and made it that much better. The revamped BWR program provides easily redeemable rewards, a new digital membership card for ease and convenience, points that never expire and perks and promotions that are simply not touched by our competitors.  We look forward to continuing to blaze the trail on loyalty in the hospitality space.”
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