(Dis)Loyalty and the U.S. Leisure Traveler

(Dis)Loyalty and the U.S. Leisure Traveler Published April 2015 Analysts: Marcello Gasdia, Karen Burka


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Today's consumers are bombarded with loyalty offers at every turn – and travel is no exception. Any traveler who has taken a trip in the past year or two has most likely been on the receiving end of a hotel or airline marketer's attempt to gain their loyalty. For the frequent business traveler, participation is often a no-brainer. But what about the typical leisure traveler who only takes two or three vacations a year? How influential are loyalty programs among the roughly 130 million U.S. leisure traveler who will generate well over US$300 billion in leisure gross bookings in 2015?  

Phocuswright's (Dis)Loyalty and the U.S. Leisure Traveler examines the role of loyalty in consumer leisure travel behavior and spending, specifically for airline, hotels and online travel agencies (OTAs). The report addresses air, hotel and loyalty participation among key demographics, and defines the status of members by age, spending and level of participation.  

Topics include:  

  • Loyalty's influence on travel shopping and booking
  • Loyalty's influence on product and channel selection
  • Airline, hotel and OTA loyalty program participation by age and spending
  • Loyalty status levels and the "super elite"
Purchase (Dis)Loyalty and the U.S. Leisure Traveler for insight into how to market to these loyalty travelers and how to tailor your loyalty programs to capture more members.

  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Key Findings
  • Airline, Hotel and OTA Loyalty Program Participation
    • More Trips Equal More Loyalty
    • The Big Impact of Business
    • Loyalty, Age and Spending
  • Airline and Hotel Loyalty Status
    • Leisure + Business Travel = Elite Status
  • Multiple Memberships and the “Super Elite”
    • The “Super Elites” Emerge
  • Loyalty’s Influence on Travel Shopping and Booking
    • Shopping Dynamics
  • Loyalty’s Influence on Product and Channel Selection
  • Appendix: Respondent Demographics

Phocuswright fielded an online consumer survey between February 28 and March 6, 2014 through Global Market Insite, Inc. targeting the general U.S. adult population that has Internet access and travels for leisure.

To qualify for participation in the study, respondents had to indicate they had taken at least one leisure trip at least 75 miles from home in the past 12 months that included paid lodging and/or air travel. An additional screener required consumers to have played an active role in planning their leisure trips. Respondents who qualified are referred to as "U.S. leisure travelers."

The term "lodging" is used to refer to the broad range of paid accommodations, including hotels, other nightly priced lodging products, timeshares and vacation rentals.

Phocuswright received 1,850 qualified responses, and the weighted respondent pool can be projected with confidence to the U.S. adult population with Internet access. A total of 4,138 respondents were surveyed to obtain baseline metrics about travelers and nontravelers within the general online population. The error interval for analysis of the U.S. traveler population is ±2.3% at a 95% confidence level. More in-depth demographic information about survey respondents is available in the Appendix of this report.

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research Center, Phocuswright projects the number of U.S. adults with Internet access who took at least one leisure trip (as defined above) in 2013 to be 127 million people. These travelers represent 54% of the total U.S. adult population. The additional requirement for respondents to have played an active role in travel planning further tightens the study's focus, as 19% of travelers were consequently disqualified.

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