When you picture a business traveler racking up loyalty points from airlines and hotels, you probably think of the two main characters in the movie Up in the Air. They’re middle-aged, seldom at home, working most of the time they’re awake.
Today’s millennial business travelers don’t look much like that. When they’re getting something back from their travels, they’re not hoarding points for a grand trip “someday.” They want to use those points as soon as possible for something fun: a weekend getaway, a night out with friends, or a free hotel stay to extend their business trip and go to a concert.
That’s one of the conclusions of a Travel Weekly article on the new state of loyalty programs. According to a J.D. Power and Associates study, “32% of millennials prefer to redeem their points for a quick reward instead of saving up for a bigger reward, versus 17% of other age groups.” They’re also not very loyal in the real sense of the word. They’re more than twice as likely two switch loyalty programs within a year than other age groups. They typically choose the programs with the quickest payoff.
Jennifer Corwin, associate practice lead for travel and hospitality at J.D. Power, said, “Millennials definitely redeem rewards more quickly. There’s a sense of having something top of mind when you get something recently, and it allows you to also have higher satisfaction.”
Many traditional programs are losing these younger frequent travelers because their retail and event payouts are typically valued far below the travel benefits on a redemption basis. You frequently get half the value or less with your points with a product purchase as you would redeeming them for Marriott stays (with Marriott points) or a United flight (with United points). This stands in stark contrast to what younger travelers really want from their points. “Among the most appealing rewards for millennials, the study found, were access to special events, dining and retail purchases.”
While traditional programs are scrambling to offer more of the first option, for the other two, millennial business travelers are probably better off booking with Bonwi. This booking service doesn’t require real loyalty since you can often parley one stay of a few nights into something worthwhile to redeem points for.
Just 10,000 points is enough for another hotel night, a one-way cheap flight, or a retail gift card for $100. With a simple penny-per-point redemption scheme that doesn’t require complicated charts, you always know what your points are worth.
Unlike with traditional airline programs, there are no blackout dates on flights and you don’t have to hit a certain point level to redeem. You just need 30,000 points for a $300 flight. For a hotel, you pull up the city and dates and see what you can afford—and for that amount of points you can afford a hotel night anywhere. Just try pulling that off with Hyatt or Hilton. Or if you’re a millennial wanting that shiny new object NOW, you can get a gift card to Amazon, Best Buy, or dozens of clothing outlets.
See how fast you can rack up points here, with no lock-in to using one brand.