What is a travel club and its business impact in 2020?
- What is a travel club?
- What are the business growth effects of starting a travel club?
- Understanding: Earning, Value & Redemption
- Travel Clubs versus Online Travel Agencies
- 6 reasons why travel club will be the next big thing
1. What is a travel club?
Travel clubs are organizations or entities which takes care of the travel need of the individual including flights, accommodations, cruise, cars, and usually auxiliary luxury benefits all in a single membership for a user. Travel Club also may offer the following benefits to the customer:
- Enhanced hotel offers
- Vacation Rental Deals
- Personal Assistant
- Airport Lounge Access and many more..
2. What are the business growth effects of starting a travel club?
Businesses often face a unique dilemma in mature markets – how do you attract new customers and grow revenue while reactivating the existing ones? Travel club memberships programs give new customers a reason to pick you over others and encourage existing ones to return due to the added value of luxury benefits and travel savings.
Travel benefits programs are implemented within the enterprise to offer viable advantages to your members or even employees. They are the first serious step in bonding with your customers, members, or employees on an emotional level of offering escapes and travel deals, and could even increase customer retention in the long run. Retaining loyal customers becomes a continuously developing process that increases purchase frequency and grows an unlimited stream of revenue.
Implementing a high-grade travel club program comes with numerous measurable profits and benefits both for your customers and your brand. If you do it right, innovative white label travel platforms can offer a raft of benefits including –
▪ Offer Experiential Rewards
The modern customer looks for unique experiences and unconventional rewards that offer immediate gratification. Offering personalized and tailored rewards will enhance customer’s satisfaction level and establish long-term loyalty with your brand. Targeted campaigns and offers will give a competitive edge to your brand resulting in higher conversion rates. With over 75% of customers willing to share their personal information in exchange for personalized rewards, loyalty points, and priority services, travel clubs and travel rewards will enhance the appeal of rewards to encourage repeat purchases.
▪ Boost Customer Satisfaction and Revenue
Travel Loyalty Clubs are a multifaceted program that strategically caters to multiple buyer personas. This helps in increasing customer satisfaction and leads to increased revenues in the long run. Travel is the ultimate motivator, and offering members, employees, or valuable loyalty club members the chance to earn more personal rewards like hotel savings, hotel lounge access, or luxury benefits creates a bond that increases satisfaction with your brand and, in turn, more revenue through longer customer lifespans.
▪ Access to Information
Brands can utilize the travel club customer data to create and manage customer profiles, tailor their offerings and get an in-depth knowledge of purchase behavior. This information can be utilized for e-commerce segmentation and omnichannel profiling to measure the results of marketing campaigns. The data analysis can serve as the basis for adjusting the overall marketing strategy and devise appealing rewards to draw in more customers. The suitable customization of offers will ensure accurate targeting and maximize the precision of the entire marketing strategy.
▪ Add Higher Lifetime Value
Travel club takes the focus away from pushing the customers to spend more and instead focus on creating meaningful value for them. Brands can segment and better reward their customers based on their purchase behavior. This will help in identifying unprofitable customer profiles who may cost more money than they generate. This is an efficient way to reward your loyal or VIP customers and encourage these high spenders to come back to your brand more often.
3. Understanding: Earning, Value & Redemption
The ability to save up miles through a travel loyalty club is what gets millions of budget-conscious travelers enrolled in them. Many will admit that it is much easier to focus on saving for their next vacation when they receive points or earn miles every time they make a qualifying purchase. Being able to watch what their loyalty is going towards makes joining much more lucrative for a member
However, there are still users tempted to join a loyalty club, only to find it fearfully complex. Blackout dates, tight restrictions or inability to understand their standing within the rewards platform may leave users wary of committing.Reaching these users can be challenging, but providing them security and simplicity in their membership will give them much more confidence in joining and becoming a valuable loyalty member.
Who is the ideal user?
Every loyalty reward program is different. Generally speaking, the latest mile-based reward programs are different from their traditional counterparts making them ideal for people who meet the following criteria –
- Flexible travel destinations
- Prefer simplicity and predictability of program
- No airline preference
- Generous travel benefits
- Travel dates are often flexible
- Often travel internationally
- Enjoy receiving value-added benefits
Loyalty club members can earn miles or travel club loyalty points on purchases by simply providing their membership details while completing the purchase. Some loyalty programs also throw in additional perks such as seat upgrades, airport lounge access, free meals, extra legroom, baggage rebate and more to their elite members. This adds flexibility for travelers who wish for upgrades nonetheless without paying from their own pockets. As the world “shrinks” due to travel becoming more convenient, travel-based rewards become much more valuable.
Loyalty cubs incentivize frequent or elite members to remain loyal with membership status tiers. Membership tiers are assigned as per their spending behavior and the number of purchases. Each tier progressively attracts more benefits and perks such as priority boarding, complimentary stays, spa packages and luxurious benefits such as member-only discounts on luxury purchases at the high end.
A key for user convenience and satisfaction is allowing them to redeem miles directly on the original booking platform, ideally your brand’s travel club or loyalty platform. In addition to miles, hotels and car rentals often market their rewards as ‘points’ which can be exchanged further for add-ons such as complimentary stay, free breakfast, car rental upgrades and more. Loyalty conversions can vary widely, but allowing users to spread out their points and even mix them with part-cash gives them satisfaction through savings and engagement through using your site to book their travels.
Above all, users are seeking a loyalty program that they feel provides real value and is worth their time and money they are spending in order to receive the benefits in the first place. So take into account the value and redeeming aspects when planning how to reward your most engaged users.
4. Travel Clubs versus Online Travel Agencies
The top online travel agencies (OTAs) invest billions of dollars for one purpose – to get the right travel products to the right customers at the right time. Major OTAs like Expedia have been successful by creating multiple brands across different websites targeted to different audience segments. This has been a mixed blessing for airlines and other suppliers (they pay high fees to OTAs), but for regular consumers OTAs have been wildly popular.
The reason is simple – OTAs make it easy to find fares online, search for hotel rooms, plan trips and so much more. The OTA value proposition isn’t limited to one category but meets every imaginable need for the connected traveler. The diversity of OTA brands proves how much opportunity there is to serve the needs of unique audiences online, and even non-travel brands and organizations can add new revenue and increase member loyalty through a travel club offering.
Travel Clubs Outside the Travel Industry
Credit unions, for example, often provide vacation loans to their members. For an additional subscription fee, credit unions could offer their members access to a private travel club online, where they could plan their flight and hotel at discounted rates, talk to a travel agent around the clock, expedite their visa processing and even coordinate/collaborate with others online to plan a group trip.
Airlines, hotels and other suppliers can afford to offer discounted rates through a private travel club, because even with a discount, the cost of acquiring customers is less costly than it would be through an OTA. By offering a travel club, a brand or organization can do for its members what would otherwise be done by an OTA – connecting them to travel products and services they value, and improving their lives within and outside the organization, whether it’s a credit union, alumni group, employee group, or retail loyalty program.
Travel clubs require no overhead or managing of vendor relations – everything can be offered through a “software as a service” platform. Essentially with a travel club, any organization can act as an online travel agency – one that is private, exclusive and elite – without having to get into the travel business.
Travel clubs can be effective in any organization – credit unions, alumni groups, employee groups, loyalty programs – because nearly everyone aspires to travel, and the savings on one trip booked through a travel club often makes up for the price of yearly membership. There is no downside for the organization, so long as it offers a travel club that truly adds real value and justifies the cost of a membership.
The Appeal and Benefits of Travel Clubs
Not only does the travel club increase revenue from membership fees, but it builds loyalty and brand affinity – ultimately turning that into brand equity by, for example, increasing the number of vacation loans given to credit union members. With a loan in hand, the travel club will help stretch their travel dollars a little wider through discounts and low-cost access to elite services such as medical evacuations in case of emergency. This is much more value than the member would get through a random (and anonymous) booking on an OTA website – travel clubs help personalize trip planning and even provide a social feature for group trips.
Travel clubs can function as sort of bespoke OTA for organizations that are willing to offer it to their customers or member. Even if the value of the included benefits doesn’t register with the end user, the novelty/exclusivity/uniqueness of a private booking engine – connected to a non-travel brand or organization they value – can be highly appealing to members and potential customers. Many financial services companies offer a booking engine on their websites, not because they want to be OTAs, but because it’s easy enough to do, adds real value and at the end of the day it drives ancillary revenue and brand value.
Membership Fees and Travel Benefits
In fact, we could think of credit card programs like the American Express Centurion as travel clubs, where people pay hundreds of dollars in membership fees just to be part of the Amex brand. In their minds, the price of a card membership is well worth the benefits they receive in return, including travel benefits such as frequent flyer miles, lounge access and concierge services. And while American Express falls outside the travel industry, it has a customer base that responds to travel as a “value add” to its core financial services.
As an alternative to online travel agencies, the travel club concept is useful for any brand, group or organization that wants a quick and easy way to increase revenue from membership fees, strengthen loyalty and add value to their brand. Custom Travel Solutions can help non-travel brands and organizations set up an online travel club without taking attention away from their core products and services – attracting new business through the appeal of elite travel and lifestyle benefits.
5. 6 reasons why travel club will be the next big thing
The travel industry is one of the biggest sectors in the world, which accounts for almost 10% of the global GDP. Though, in the last few years, we have seen a drastic change in the travel and tourism industry. It already provides an employment to over 290 million people, which will only increase in the coming year. Gone are the days when travelers used to prefer standard packages. In order to provide a customized experience, they are relying on the prevalent membership economy.
There is a reason why travel clubs are known as the future of the tourism industry and are here to stay. Here’s why travel club platforms are going to see an evident boom in the coming years:
- Travelers are moving beyond package deals
In the last decade, tons of travel firms managed to attract more travelers by providing a wide range of standard tours and packages. Though, this trend is gradually coming to an end as people like to have a personalized experience while traveling. According to research in the US, only 6.4% of people would like to travel in standard group tours.
The rest of them would like to either travel solo or with their family/friends to have a customized experience. Therefore, by taking the assistance of a travel club platform, they can easily fulfill their needs and that too without causing a dent in their pocket.
2. The rise of the subscription economy
From Netflix to Spotify and Zipcar to Dropbox, there are several firms that have taken the benefit of the growing membership-driven economy. It is the business model of the future that is only going to expand in the long run. Since customers are already familiar with the subscription economy, you don’t need to start from the square one. Though, by including the model in the travel industry, you can certainly get a first-mover advantage.
3. The changing needs of millennial travelers
Millennials have already surpassed Baby Boomers to be the largest generation in America. Needless to say, it changes everything for the current travel industry. If you want to succeed and gain productive results, then you need to work on travel club benefits keeping in mind the needs of Millennials.
Though, Millennials don’t have any standard requirement when it comes to travel. There are times when they wish to go on an adventure, while sometimes they would like to take a solo trip. Only a dedicated travel club platform can help them meet their needs in a single place.
4. Inclination towards responsible tourism
It might surprise you, but almost 80% of all travel decisions are taken by women. It doesn’t matter if they are planning a solo or a family trip – they always look for firms offering responsible services. This is exactly where travel club benefits have a lead. By providing services like 24/7 personal assistance, medical facilities, fast documentation, and more, they make sure you travel in a secure manner.
5. “Bleisure” trips and Staycations
These are the two major trends that are only going to go bigger in the coming years. These days, people like to mix business with leisure while visiting their destination. This helps them explore a new place by meeting their business needs. Additionally, instead of visiting numerous places, they like to explore the local scene and stay in one place (by having a stay-vacation).
Ideally, a travel club fulfillment company can help you tap this trend. They already have dedicated corporate travel programs and collaborated with leading vacation homes as well. This will make your travel club platform a one-stop destination for every kind of travel need.
6. The integration of technology with travel
Technology has changed our present world by touching almost every sector. Travel is certainly no such exception. According to Google, after doing research on their mobile, 79% of people did their booking using their smartphones. Since travel club platforms are mobile-friendly, using them is quite time-saving and easy.
Additionally, travelers look for options like virtual currency, multi-language support, daily discounts, reward points, etc. Advanced travel club solutions can meet these requirements seamlessly.