Two staggering statistics emerged from Deloitte’s inaugural survey titled, “A Restoration in Loyalty,” – only 8% of respondents indicated they always stay at the same hotel brand; and just 14% of respondents always fly the same airline.

Deloitte commissioned the web-based survey conducted by an independent research company between Oct. 18 and Oct. 23, 2012. The survey polled 4,000 hotel and airline customers, based on hotel stay and/or airline travel during the past 12 months.

“It is clear that travel brands need to up their game if they want to drive genuine loyalty among consumers,” Adam Weissenberg, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. Travel, Hospitality and Leisure Leader, said in a statement. “With heightened competition and eroding customer loyalty, hotels and airlines, now, more than ever, need to focus on enhancing and personalizing the consumer experience.”

Rewards programs for travel brands ranked low in importance for consumers, according to the study -- 20th out of 26 listed attributes for hotels, and 19th out of 26 attributes for airlines. Only 55% of respondents consider loyalty programs of high importance when choosing airlines and 45% consider loyalty programs of high importance when choosing hotels.

Just over half (56%) of respondents said they are satisfied or very satisfied with their hotel loyalty program and 53% for airline loyalty programs.

Economic factors play a significant role in consumer travel habits, the survey found. Consumers seek value for their money, comfort, and location when selecting a hotel. On-time departures and arrivals are the most important factors when choosing an airline. Consumers indicated (64%) they fly economy on domestic flights and 66% for international.

According to the survey, 63% of respondents never want to interact with a travel brand via social media and 44% indicated they never visit social media and review sites for travel. What’s more, 80% of respondents have never downloaded a hotel or airline app to their smartphones.

Nearly half of survey respondents (49%) have used flash sale sites to follow discounts on travel. The majority of consumers rely on hotel and airline websites to book travel reservations -- 61% for hotel and 59% for airline websites.

Weissenberg said travel brands need to be more innovative and clear in communicating their product and service offerings.

“Deloitte’s research showed that while earning and redeeming points are the most important attributes for choosing hotel and airline loyalty programs, travel brands should focus on enhancing the customer experience, making rewards personally meaningful, encouraging loyalty with unexpected rewards if they want to boost consumer engagement, and ultimately building long-term customer relationships,” Weissenberg said.

Mark Johnson, CEO and Chief Marketing Officer for Loyalty 360, said that merely having a loyalty program does not create loyalty.

“There is a big transformation from a traditional loyalty program that was focused on RFM to what a loyalty program should be about and that is creating a unique and mutually beneficial communication/exchange between the brand and its audience,” Johnson said. “The challenge is that traditionally these programs were administered by those who felt they knew more about their customers than they actually did. Yet, we have seen great changes to the programs offered in the travel space, and it will be interesting to see if they create more loyalty as we define it.”

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