Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 21 2013

How Online Booking Sites Could Impact Attrition Rates

By David McMillin

hotel loyalty

The era of online and mobile booking has made finding the right hotel room and the perfect flight easier than ever before. It’s also made it more challenging for hotels and airlines to turn guests and passengers into repeat customers. While loyalty programs used to motivate travelers to return to the same brands to rack up points for free stays and free flights, many of those programs have been diluted due to blackout dates and rising point requirements for redemption.

As individual hoteliers struggle to inspire a true sense of loyalty, online travel agents are filling the void. Earlier this year, Orbitz.com launched a pilot rewards program that included perks such as five percent when booking via the Orbitz mobile apps and $25 bonuses for referring friends to the program.

“Our research before and during the test made it clear that consumers are frustrated by other loyalty programs that are vague, hard to understand and set unrealistic earn and redeem hurdles,” Chris Orton, president of Orbitz.com, says.

Now, the company is unveiling the program for all its customers. While Orbitz Rewards seems simple and straightforward, this isn’t the only option for customers. Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com and plenty of other sites offer rewards opportunities, too.

SEE ALSO: Do Loyalty Programs Still Matter?

Attendees are searching for ways to keep their travel expenses low, and the rise in these new rewards programs will require planners to emphasize the benefits of booking within hotel blocks. It’s no longer enough to provide an “exclusive discount for registered attendees.” Why? Because that exclusive discount may still be higher than a property across the street.

SEE ALSO: 3 Ways Loyalty Programs Can Still Pay

Are you noticing an increase with attendees booking outside your block? If so, how have you addressed the problem? Share your thoughts below to help your colleagues understand how to navigate these challenges.

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