After an unpredictable year, the travel industry recovery is well underway, with travelers increasingly indicating their strong desire to return to the skies and check-in desks.
According to Skift’s March 2021 U.S. Travel Tracker, “The number of Americans who said they would definitely travel in 2021 rose from 17 percent in January to 22 percent in April. Only 10 percent of American consumers said they didn’t plan to travel in 2021.” Customers are looking to make up for lost time and make the most out of their trips — for hotels, this marks a unique opportunity to capitalize through new loyalty offerings and engagements.
To guide the hotel sector as it positions itself for this resurgent leisure demand, loyalty tech company iSeatz has released its new State of Loyalty: 2021 Hotel Ancillary Report.
iSeatz’ benchmark report helps hotel and loyalty executives navigate the current competitive landscape, offering insights on the latest loyalty-integrated ancillary product trends and state of play research. Here, we unpack some of the report’s themes.
CAR RENTAL, RIDESHARE, AND GROUND TRANSPORTATION
One-way car bookings rose significantly through 2020, and this rising demand is predicted to continue through 2021 and beyond.
The report outlines how car bookings consistently make up the largest transaction source in a hotel ancillary portfolio, providing 53 percent of ancillary bookings in April 2021. Given such tight supply and booming demand, there’s a strong opportunity here for hotels to offer their clientele preferential car rentals through in-house reward platforms.
FOOD AND DINING
Spending on online food delivery soared in 2020, and food delivery spending is still 40 percent higher than it was in April 2019. Nonetheless, in-person reservations are filling up again, as vaccination efforts and increased safety confidence encourages consumers back to the dining table.
The report cites food as an ever-reliable driver of loyalty-integrated ancillary engagement, and advises hotels to embrace innovative and safe solutions to best serve their customers. A recent example: Accor’s partnership with Kitch-In, a digital platform that delivers high quality food from restaurants and brands endorsed by award-winning chefs direct to customers’ homes.
EVENTS, ACTIVITIES, AND EXPERIENCES
The events and experiences space is showing signs of rebound, while outdoor activities rose in popularity throughout 2020. For example, 20 percent more golf was played in August 2020 than the year prior, and 15 U.S National Parks saw record attendance.
The report highlights physical and virtual innovation programs in this space: Marriott’s “America the Beautiful” parks pass, which gives entry into all U.S National Parks for loyalty point burn; and Wyndham and Hilton, respectively, which offered online events including a live ‘Q ‘n A and virtual race with elite Nascar and Formula 1 sports car drivers.
Today, the wellness space has evolved into something much deeper and more encompassing than it once was, making it an emerging offering that ties in with brand sustainability and core values.
The report highlights Hyatt, Melia, and Shangri-La as leaders in this space, though a significant trend exists in hotels providing more rounded wellness offerings. The report goes on to suggest wellness as a ripe area for product engagement, as the desire for customer health, safety, and peace of mind and body continue to grow post-pandemic.
Since 2019, the industry has seen an influx of hotel loyalty programs offering opportunities through flights.
Though the flight sector has been slower to return than others, the report suggests operators keep end-to-end loyalty top of mind and continue to offer one-stop opportunities for flight and hotel bookings to provide guests with a seamless journey.
GIFT CARDS, CHARITABLE GIVING, CRUISE, AND CASINOS
With loyalty members unable to travel in 2020, smaller value ‘day-to-day’ redemption — also known as micro-burn opportunities — have become increasingly popular. For example, charitable giving rose 8 percent in the past year, and gift cards were a main point of focus. The report shows that the global gift card market was valued at $615.34 billion in 2019 and is predicted to increase well over three times that by 2030.
To learn more about how hotels are creating loyalty-integrated engagement strategies and dig deeper on emerging trends in the space, download iSeatz’s report.