back icon Back Insights 08/21/2023

The Power of Experiential Travel Rewards: Creating Unforgettable Memories for Members

No matter if you’re a marketing professional or a membership manager, chances are, you’ve come across this latest hot topic — experiential rewards.

Realistically, it’s been difficult to avoid this trending term. After all, the number of loyalty programs that have begun offering experiential rewards leaped from 61% to 78% in just one year, with no signs of slowing any time soon. 

At the top of the list of experiential rewards are experiential travel rewards or once-in-a-lifetime travel perks for loyalty members.

Being that 80% of consumers plan to travel more in the coming months than they have in the past year, experiential travel rewards have emerged as top options for organizations to engage members, create unforgettable memories, and of course, drive revenue.

Learn how experiential travel rewards strengthen marketing efforts and create genuine connections in successful loyalty programs.

What are Experiential Travel Rewards?

Experiential travel rewards encompass immersive travel experiences that go beyond traditional loyalty perks, such as discounts on travel booking or branded merchandise. At a time when 27% of loyalty program members have switched their primary program in search of more exclusive perks or innovative ways to redeem points, experiential travel rewards are packed with benefits.

Experiential travel rewards allow members to indulge in premier experiences, explore new destinations, and create lasting memories — memories that solidify the related loyalty program as a top contender for their continued business. Examples of experiential travel rewards that can be provided to loyalty program members include unique travel offerings, such as:

  • Access to premier experiences, such as behind-the-scenes tours or private events.
  • Adventure opportunities to otherwise difficult-to-visit activities or locations.
  • Ability to customize travel bookings to accommodate member preferences.

Designing Memorable Experiences

When it comes to experiential travel rewards, the key to successful loyalty programs is designing memorable experiences. For membership organizations and businesses, memorable travel rewards are designed based on three primary criteria: 

  • Customized experiences. Experiential rewards are tailored to adhere to members’ preferences and interests, such as certain cuisines or dining opportunities. 
  • Exclusive access. Rewards are grounded in providing members with behind-the-scenes tours, VIP treatments, or access to events not available to the general public.
  • Personalization opportunities. Rewards come with the ability for members to customize their experiences, such as choosing specific activities or destinations.

Fortunately, there are several ways to diversify travel rewards and design memorable experiences. Take the Hilton Honors program, for example. Hilton has partnered with the Live Nation entertainment group to provide loyalty members with exclusive access to concert tickets for their favorite artists before they’re available to the general public, along with chances to win VIP perks.

Exploring Unique Destinations

As the name might suggest, experiential travel rewards are all about the experience travel locations provide; however, the destination is just as important as the designated activity. Consider creative loyalty programs, such as Marriott Bonvoy Moments, which allows members to redeem points to explore premier destinations, such as multi-day adventures through Reykjavik, Iceland.

To leverage travel benefits to grow memberships (and drive revenue), allow members to explore unique destinations such as:

  • Off-the-beaten-path destinations. Showcase lesser-known locations that offer unique experiences, such as touring agave crops to learn how spirits like tequila are crafted.
  • Cultural immersion. Design experiences that allow members to immerse themselves in local cultures, traditions, and cuisines, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Iceland adventure. 
  • Nature and adventure. Highlight outdoor activities, eco-tourism, and experiences for the more adventurous members, like a trip through the Costa Rican rainforest.

Collaborations and Partnerships

As you can tell from the above successful loyalty programs, many memorable experiences, and unique destinations are made possible by collaborations and partnerships. Depending on your industry, there are several avenues for partnerships:

  • Joint ventures with travel companies. Partner with established travel companies to offer your members joint rewards and expand your range of available travel experiences.
  • Partnerships with local businesses. Collaborate with local hotels, restaurants, or tour operators to create exclusive packages for your loyalty program members.
  • Influencer collaborations. Engage relevant influencers to promote and participate in your experiential rewards, which adds an element of excitement and social media exposure.

Because the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Moments programs are run by travel providers, you may be unsure where to begin with collaborations that work for your membership organization. However, even sports teams have forged partnerships with travel providers, from the Miami Marlins and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) to Minor League Baseball and Wyndham. 

A group of friends creating unforgettable memories while on vacation.

Sharing and Social Media Integration

If you’re responsible for promoting and marketing a loyalty program, you’re likely wondering, “How can social media integration and user-generated content be leveraged to amplify the impact of experiential travel rewards?” 

  • Encourages members to share experiences. Social media integration creates opportunities for members to share their experiential travel rewards using designated hashtags or by tagging the loyalty program, which amplifies program awareness. 
  • Improves member engagement. Social media integration, such as contests or giveaways on social media platforms, helps not only improve member engagement but also rewards active participants to encourage ongoing loyalty and satisfaction. 
  • Increases the frequency (and quality) of user-generated content (UGC). The best part of social media integration is the ability to leverage UGC to showcase real member experiences and inspire others to participate, both of which improve program engagement. 

Arrivia: Elevating Experiential Travel Rewards

It’s no secret that experiential travel rewards are becoming increasingly common among loyalty programs. And with the knowledge that loyalty program memberships are becoming increasingly competitive, it begs the question, what strategies can businesses employ to ensure seamless booking and support for members redeeming experiential travel rewards? 

The answer is with a white label travel privileges partner equipped to design exceptional loyalty programs — a partner like arrivia. 

Arrivia is the go-to loyalty technology provider for financial institutions, membership organizations, and travel companies that are seeking to enhance their loyalty programs and offer premier travel experiences to members. With a wide range of customizable options, you can select from an array of curated activities and destinations that can be tailored to fit your loyalty members’ preferences. 

Not to mention, arrivia’s white label travel portal ensures a seamless, hassle-free travel booking process for members, complete with dedicated customer service to support ongoing member satisfaction. And because arrivia technology can be fully customized to your company’s branding, your members will believe you’ve designed exceptional travel experiences just for them. 

Elevate Your Loyalty Program with Experiential Travel Rewards

Less than one-quarter of loyalty programs still fail to offer experiential rewards—don’t be one of them. It’s never been easier to differentiate your loyalty program with unique and unforgettable experiential travel rewards. Even better, these travel perks can capture potential members’ attention, maintain the satisfaction of current members, and drive ongoing program engagement. 

If you want to increase membership loyalty through experiential travel rewards, look no further than the experts at arrivia. Our white label travel solutions have powered some of the best travel rewards programs for over 25 years, from American Express® to Marriott Vacation Club®. To learn how arrivia can help you create a remarkable and engaging loyalty program, request a demo today.