Superior products, experiences drive consumer loyalty better than financial rewards: EAN

Brands seem to believe that product quality has the largest impact on loyalty, but their actions show otherwise

Asia-Pacific travel brands are driving loyalty by improving their product offering versus creating membership programmes, according to Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) and Points’ new Travel Loyalty Report: A wake-up call for sleepwalking loyalty programmes.

Ariane Gorin, president, Expedia Partner Solutions, said: “Today’s savvy travellers are looking beyond price as they choose their preferred brands. To drive loyalty, travel companies need to look beyond existing solutions like discounting, vouchers and points schemes. Lasting loyalty will be won by companies who really tune in to consumer expectations, deliver a diverse product offering and invest in superior user experiences.”

Brands seem to believe that product quality has the largest impact on loyalty, but their actions show otherwise

Assessing the state of customer loyalty in the travel industry across multiple geographies and travel sectors, the study shows that despite widespread doubt in their efficacy, discounts and coupons remain the most popular tactic brands use. Sixty-one per cent of respondents admit to relying heavily on them, and the proportion is 72 per cent in Brazil alone.

Awarding points and miles is used by 52 per cent of respondents, and 82 per cent in the UK, the highest among markets surveyed.

In Asia-Pacific however, just 24 per cent of respondents are using points and miles to drive loyalty, while 26 per cent of are not offering a loyalty programme at all.

Globally, 71 per cent rate “quality of offering” as having the greatest impact on loyalty, while customer experience and an improved breadth of product and service offering are also valued above discounting methods.

Despite this, there seems to be a gap between insight and action, with only half of respondents saying they are actively working to improve their product range and customer experience, and even less (33 per cent) to improve their breadth of product and service offering.

Rather than an improved product, the majority of survey respondents cite external factors such as a stronger economy (70 per cent overall, 88 per cent in the UK and 71 per cent in China), increased marketing spend (72 per cent in the UK and 73 per cent in Japan) and changing customer demographics, as the key to their loyalty gains.

This is markedly different in Asia-Pacific, where over 50 per cent say that they expect loyalty to increase due to continual improvements in their product offering.

Even though new ideas like personalisation and gamification are believed to be effective, particularly by the airline industry, very few companies are doing it (30 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively). A higher percentage of Asia-Pacific countries cite gamification to be an effective method in driving customer loyalty, rising to a peak of 75 per cent in South Korea.

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