back icon Back Insights 07/03/2023

Beyond Flights and Hotels: Expanding Your Travel Rewards Program with Unique Offerings

At first glance, it can appear like unique offerings in travel rewards programs are discounts on airline tickets or promotions for hotel stays — neither of which necessarily screams ‘exclusive.’ However, if you’ve been researching additional travel rewards benefits for your customers, you’d have realized that ‘exclusive’ has become the name of the game for members’ most coveted perks.

Over one-third of rewards members switched their primary program in the past year to access better benefits. 

So, what are the unique features of travel rewards programs? Are any travel rewards programs tailored to specific destinations or travel styles beyond basic flights and hotels? The answer is yes. There are tons of exclusive perks, special promotions, and extraordinary experiences available, so long as you partner with a reliable rewards provider. In today’s post, we’ll explain how.  

Unique Offerings in Travel Rewards Programs

Travel rewards programs are a common customer engagement and retention strategy to encourage increased spending with a specific travel provider or travel-adjacent business. The primary benefits of travel rewards programs include earning points, miles, or cashback rewards on purchases. However, the number of rewards programs demands more unique offerings to drive consumer interest.

More than 90% of businesses provide a rewards program, including nearly half of today’s top hotel chains and airlines. 

In fact, Marriott’s integrated loyalty program has reached over 110 million members across 6,700 participating hotels worldwide. Last year, Delta added another 8.5 million members to its 100 million-member-strong SkyMiles program. With an increasingly crowded market for travel brands, unique offerings in travel rewards programs aren’t nice to have; they’re a must

What Unique Travel Reward Offerings Should You Use?

When it comes to unique offerings in travel rewards programs, your rewards benefits must complement your members’ purchase behavior and preferences. For instance, if your business sells cruise packages, your customer base would likely prefer exclusive perks for onboard activities and extraordinary experiences when visiting ports rather than complimentary company merch. 

Fortunately, unique offerings in travel rewards programs can take several shapes. While free branded merch could be an awesome welcome reward for new program members, long-term customers who have spent money with your business would prefer special promotions and other exclusive perks, such as complimentary upgrades and personalized travel experiences. 

Types of Unique Offerings in Travel Rewards Programs

It’s important to know that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel for your travel rewards program. There are tons of unique offerings in travel rewards programs you can begin to integrate directly with your current offerings, whether they’re new redemption options for points or miles holders or new tiered rewards privileges. Consider these offerings to elevate your travel rewards program. 

Innovative Redemption Opportunities

Did you know that 27% of loyalty program members switched their primary program because they wanted more ways to redeem points? Redemption options do not need to be contained to flights and hotel stays. On the contrary, an entire suite of exclusive perks can be redeemed through most rewards programs’ points or miles system. Redemption opportunities can include redeeming points for adventure tours and exclusive events or redeeming miles for luxury cruises. 

What are some unique redemption options offered by travel rewards programs? Look no further than Marriott Bonvoy Moments, which allows members to redeem points for fixed-price or auction-style experiences, like premier sports events, concerts, and culinary experiences. There’s also the Hilton Honors program, partnered with the Live Nation entertainment group to provide rewards members with exclusive first-dibs access to concerts and music festivals. 

Personalized Rewards and Recommendations

Beyond traditional flights and hotels, you can turbocharge your rewards program benefits using only the first-party membership data collected through your travel rewards program. First-party data refers to insights you’ve gathered directly from your members through your rewards program, from recent travel search history to previously redeemed travel experiences.

An innovative rewards program feature leverages this data to personalize rewards. For instance, you can offer complimentary seat upgrades to members who have redeemed flight miles in the past six months or offer food and beverage credits to members who have recently booked a cruise. You can also use members’ most-searched destinations to provide tailored travel recommendations.

Personal rewards and recommendations help not only enhance the travel experience but also improve program satisfaction. When personalization is done effectively, there is a 6.4x lift in satisfaction and engagement. Members are also more likely to say good things about your brand and spend more with your business, helping to boost customer lifetime value (CLV) over time. 

Enhanced Loyalty Tiers and Privileges

Speaking of improving customer lifetime value, another method to expand your travel rewards program is to adopt enhanced loyalty tiers and privileges. Tiers refer to separate rankings within the rewards program — like Silver, Gold, and Platinum — with higher-value travel perks available in higher tiers. Program participation through continued purchases or membership engagement allows members to advance to higher tier levels to access additional privileges. 

At a time when 30% of loyalty program members switch from their primary program because they want additional ways to earn points and another 32% switch because they prefer better discounts and promotions, tiers enable businesses to offer a range of exclusive travel rewards that retain customers long term. Higher-tier members can access privileges like exclusive lounges, priority boarding, and other elite-status perks to enhance the travel and rewards member experience. 

Choosing the Right Travel Rewards Partner

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of unique offerings in travel rewards programs beyond flights and hotels — you just need the right travel rewards partner to unlock access! When selecting a travel rewards partner, it’s paramount to consider the available perks alongside integration options and the potential for scalability. As you compare your options, keep these factors in mind:

  • Is it turnkey? The right travel rewards partner will be ready to integrate with your existing technology or operate as a stand-alone solution. 
  • Is it configurable? A premier rewards partner will offer a white-label solution that can be customized to reflect your rewards program branding.
  • Is it comprehensive? The right travel rewards partner will boast extensive travel options alongside booking technology and in-house marketing services.
  • Is it flexible? An advanced travel rewards partner will offer self-funded currency as a standalone perk or to include with an existing points system. 
  • Is it scalable? The proper travel rewards partner will be able to accommodate an expanding membership base without requiring a new solution. 

If you’re unsure which travel rewards solution is the best fit for your business, consider the experts at arrivia! We offer turnkey travel technology that can be fully customized with your unique branding and embedded directly on your membership site. Our vast portfolio comprises more than 700 global airlines; 30,000 cruise itineraries; 150,000 unique experiences and tours; 200,000+ curated resorts and hotels; and upwards of 1 million hotels and vacation homes worldwide. 

Two friends taking a picture at a sporting event available through unique offerings in travel rewards programs.