Travel operators under pressure to improve reward schemes

25th Nov 2014

Travel operators are failing to meet customer expectations on reward schemes, according to research from Collinson Latitude.

Surveying over 4,000 holidaymakers across the globe, it found that 74% of travel decisions are influenced by reward schemes in booking vacations with travel operators, but just 33% were satisfied with the quality of what was available.

Respondents also rated the retail, food & drink and finance sector higher than travel in terms of consumer satisfaction and quality of reward programmes, and 64% said many reward schemes in the sector were often too complicated. More than eight in ten (86%) said more choice of rewards or tailored offers would help improve their experience.

“Today’s connected traveller expects benefits from travel brands that are tailored to their individual needs,” said James Berry, ecommerce director at Collinson Latitude.

“To genuinely improve the way reward members perceive travel programmes, it’s important to understand who customers are and what it is that they are likely to find rewarding. Deeper insights into customer behaviours give travel operators a critical competitive edge.

“If the user journey is poor, the transaction is too complicated or they can’t find the reward they want, members will rightly look to other suppliers.”

Collison Latitude’s research is in contrast to the Institute of Customer Service’s (ICS) recent UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), which highlighted a sector that had made huge gains in in customer satisfaction score over the last 12 months.

And the ICS’s CEO, Jo Causon sympathises with the constraints travel operators work under in delivering adequate experiences to customers:

“Tourism faces a unique set of challenges,” she stated.

“Customer satisfaction with a holiday for example incorporates the whole experience from leaving my front door to returning after my break. If I am delayed during my journey, have a bad experience at the airport, have a problem with a connection or the accommodation it will reflect on each of the other elements.”    

The 2008-2013 double-dip recession delivered a major financial blow to the tourism sector, with 18% fewer people holidaying abroad in 2013 compared with before the downturn, and the number of trips taken by Britons overseas declining by 12.6 million, from 69.4 million to 56.8 million between 2007 and 2011.

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