In its annual Global Business Travel Forecast,
American Express claims 2014 will see modest increases to the cost of
business travel. By and large airline prices should remain flat and in
some cases even drop as low cost carriers expand their business travel
offering — forcing more competitive pricing.
Conversely, hotel bookings could rise as much as 3-6 per cent in some regions across North America.
business travel costs are expected to reach into the hundreds of
millions of dollars for many companies and managing this expense will be
a top priority.
So what’s in store for frequent travelers who
count on their reward points to fund leisure getaways? For one thing, a
glut of airline miles being issued and more demand for award nights as
hotels fill up with paid travelers will continue to force unfavorable
program changes as noted when United Airlines announced tweaks to their
MileagePlus program late last year and when Aeroplan announced increases
to certain International award flights not to mention Hilton HHonors,
Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards and Starwood
Preferred Guest all increasing room redemption rates during the year.
Further proof can be gleaned from a recent letter to members of
Delta Hotels’ Privilege program. In his letter, CEO Ken Greene spoke of
some improvements (less stays to qualify for Gold status) but also a
number of unfortunate cuts including scrapping the popular late
check-out option for basic members of the program. This at a time when
many hotel programs tend to be adding benefits at the basic level with
the premise that they can glean more information about these travelers
from the data trail they leave when joining a program to take advantage
of those free benefits.
Perhaps most revealing (and encouraging to the glass half-full
types) is the promise to strengthen the reward program in the fall of
2014. What this means is anyone’s guess, but you have to believe the
popular Canadian hotel chain recognizes the important role these
programs play in attracting business travelers.
Cornell analysis shows real impact of hotel loyalty program – See more
While we all know economic conditions have been tough for everyone
including those in the travel industry, it’s my hope that reward program
operators will do more to engage with their most active members. Give
us a chance to offer feedback before pulling the plug on features or
switching up redemption rules. After all, we’re deeply invested in
these programs and make travel plans with point accumulation in mind.
For our part, FrequentFlyerBonuses.com
will continue to track the best bonus offers and point to the strongest
card offerings. You can also count on us to give you the scoop on what
program changes mean and how to avoid some of the hassles. Check back
frequently and here’s to a ‘rewarding’ 2014!