back icon Back Reports & Surveys 06/07/2022

Better Together

Five ways credit unions can use travel benefits to grow membership levels and revenues

Outside of their core banking product, credit unions employ different tactics to attract new members and keep existing ones engaged. Member benefits — think preferential rates on car insurance, first access to concert tickets and deep discounts on hotel stays—are one way to incentivize new member sign-ups.

Many credit unions, however, miss out on another and one of the most effective ways to drive long-term loyalty: travel rewards. How can credit unions grow their membership through travel rewards? It all comes down to delivering recognizable value.

Travel is a big-ticket item for most consumers — it’s something they plan and budget for, and so they are highly attuned to getting value for their dollars.  Offering members travel-related discounts or perks, like a free upgrade or companion ticket, is a powerful benefit that customers will appreciate and won’t soon forget.

Credit unions are in a unique position to offer travel benefits like these because of their membership structures. With a defined membership base, credit unions have access to discounts from travel suppliers that are unavailable to the public. Extending this sort of exclusive value benefits members financially and helps keep the credit union top of mind when they’re making their travel plans.

For travel benefits and rewards to be most impactful from a retention and engagement perspective, they need to be not just earnable but redeemable through the credit union’s brand. That means incorporating booking capabilities into the travel rewards platform.

Credit unions that can offer those capabilities in-house under their digital banner will significantly increase member interactions, inspire member loyalty, and uncover new revenue opportunities. Members who can book travel deals directly and associate that added value with the credit union brand.

Yes, a credit union can also offer travel. 

Travel brands aren’t the only companies that can offer customers travel products; traditional banks and credit cards have been selling travel directly through their loyalty programs for years. Credit unions can do the same and more by partnering with the right fulfillment and technology supplier. Like what?

  1. Offer exclusive value: By leveraging their exclusive and dedicated member base, credit unions can obtain great offers from travel suppliers that members won’t find on any other public platforms — with discounts up to 80% in some cases.
  2. Think rewards, not just benefits: A travel platform allows a credit union to offer great value to all members. But it also facilitates rewarding members for specific behavior like when they open a new savings account, refer new members, or hit a specific milestone. In those instances, the credit union can incentivize or reward these activities by gifting them points that can be redeemed for travel at their leisure.
  3. Drive new revenue streams: When a credit union implements a travel rewards platform, it gains the ability to modify the portion of the travel inventory discount it passes along to members based on its own priorities. Let’s say a hotel supplier provides a block of rooms at an 80% discount. The credit union with a travel rewards platform may decide to offer new members the entire discount as an added bonus. Existing members might only get a 50% discount (still valuable!), while the credit union keeps the difference as revenue. With credit unions, the ability to raise revenue through a travel rewards platform is doubly interesting for members who are, after all, themselves owners.

For member-owned organizations like credit unions, growth strategies must be sustainable and in line with their values. Travel benefits are both. They can provide members with unmatched value and drive revenue for the credit union.

To learn more about other ways credit unions can use travel rewards and benefits to grow their membership and revenue, download our new use case, Better Together: A checklist for credit unions.