Nearly Half Of U.S. Adults Perk Up Their Travel With An Airline, Hotel, Or Travel Card Rewards Program

Millennials are least likely to be travel rewards program members despite being most likely to believe such programs are useful

05:00 AM EDT Jun 24, 2015 Rating
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Nearly Half Of U.S. Adults Perk Up Their Travel With An Airline, Hotel, Or Travel Card Rewards Program

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Rewards programs are everywhere nowadays; from the grocery store to the pet store and everything in between, anyone can sign up to receive perks offered by various vendors to members only. When it comes to travel rewards, there are a few main types: programs for airlines and for hotels, along with credit and payment cards that offer travel reward perks. But just what do Americans think about all of these options?

Nearly half (48%) of Americans have membership in at least one of these kinds of travel rewards program. Three in ten Americans are members of airline or hotel rewards programs (with 31% of Americans confirming membership in each), while a quarter have a credit or payment card with travel rewards (26%).

Membership in each increases significantly when looking at those who travel by commercial airline at least one time per year, with over half (56%) using an airline program, nearly half (47%) members in a hotel program, and over four in ten (42%) using a credit or payment card with travel rewards. With just over half of air travelers members of an airline rewards program, there’s certainly room for growth in the industry.

These are among the findings from a Harris Poll of 2,215 U.S. adults (aged 18 and older) surveyed online from April 16-20, 2015.

Interestingly, older generations are more likely than their younger counterparts to be members of each of these types of programs:

 

 

But are they useful?

Whether or not someone personally takes advantage of the aforementioned programs, everyone has an opinion on them. Overall, equal percentages of Americans (46% each) view credit or payment cards with travel rewards and hotel rewards programs as very/somewhat useful, with slightly less saying the same for airline rewards programs (43%). Not too surprisingly, those who have each of these rewards programs are more likely to consider the programs very/somewhat useful:

 

 

However, on a more surprising note, Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to find each of these programs to be very/somewhat useful, despite being the least likely to have membership in any of them. Millennials are most likely to find credit or payment cards with travel rewards (55% compared vs. 36% Gen Xers, 44% Baby Boomers, & 45% Matures), hotel rewards programs (54% vs. 42%, 44% & 39%) and airline rewards programs (53% vs. 36% Xers, 38% & 42%) useful.

And do they affect travel choices?

For travel rewards members, participation has at least some impact on a variety of travel decisions. Over six in ten (61%) say their memberships impact their decision on both selecting which hotel to stay at and which airline to fly on. Memberships affect decisions related to rental companies less so, but still, 40% say memberships impact which company they rent a car from.

These sentiments increase when looking at which type of program one participates in. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those who have a membership in a hotel program say it impacts which hotel they choose and the same is true for those with an airline membership (75%) and which airline they choose.

 


TABLE 1

AIR TRAVEL FREQUENCY

“How often do you typically travel by commercial airline, whether for business or personal reasons?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

%

Never

28

Less than once a year

31

Once a year or more (NET)

41

About once a year

17

2-3 times a year

18

Every 2-3 months

5

About once a month

1

More than once a month

1

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.

 

TABLE 2a

REWARD PROGRAMS – By Generation

“Which, if any, of the following do you have? Please select all that apply.”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Millennials (18-37)

Generation X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

%

%

%

%

%

Membership in one or more hotel rewards program(s)

31

24

32

36

36

Membership in one or more airline rewards program(s)

31

23

31

36

41

One or more credit or payment cards with travel rewards

26

22

21

30

38

None of these

52

59

54

47

42

 


TABLE 2b

REWARD PROGRAMS – By Commercial Airline Travel

“Which, if any, of the following do you have? Please select all that apply.”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Commercial Airline Travel

Less than once a year or never

1 time a year or more

%

%

%

Membership in one or more hotel rewards program(s)

31

14

56

Membership in one or more airline rewards program(s)

31

20

47

One or more credit or payment cards with travel rewards

26

15

42

None of these

52

68

29

 

TABLE 3a

USEFULNESS OF REWARD PROGRAMS – Summary Grid

“Please indicate how useful, if at all, you find each of these products and services. Even if you don’t personally have or use one or more, please rate them based on what you know about them.”

Base: All adults

 

Very/ Somewhat useful (NET)

Very useful

Somewhat useful

A little bit/Not useful (NET)

A little bit useful

Not at all useful

%

%

%

%

%

%

Credit or payment cards with travel rewards

46

21

25

54

24

29

Hotel rewards programs 

46

20

27

54

27

27

Airline rewards programs

43

19

24

57

25

32

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.

 


TABLE 3b

USEFULNESS OF REWARD PROGRAMS - Summary of “Very/Somewhat Useful”

By Generation, Travel Rewards

“Please indicate how useful, if at all, you find each of these products and services. Even if you don’t personally have or use one or more, please rate them based on what you know about them.”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Travel Rewards

Millennials (18-37)

Generation X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Credit or payment cards

Airline program membership

Hotel program membership

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Credit or payment cards with travel rewards

46

55

36

44

45

70

58

56

Hotel rewards programs 

46

54

42

44

39

54

53

64

Airline rewards programs

43

53

36

38

42

56

59

50

 

TABLE 3c

USEFULNESS OF REWARD PROGRAMS - Summary of “Very/Somewhat Useful”

By Commercial Airline Travel

“Please indicate how useful, if at all, you find each of these products and services. Even if you don’t personally have or use one or more, please rate them based on what you know about them.”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Commercial Airline Travel

Less than once a year or never

1 time a year or more

%

%

%

Credit or payment cards with travel rewards

46

36

62

Hotel rewards programs 

46

40

56

Airline rewards programs

43

32

60

 


TABLE 4a

IMPACT OF REWARD PROGRAMS ON DECISIONS – Summary Grid

“You indicated being enrolled in one or more travel related rewards programs. Please indicate how strongly your reward program membership(s) impacts your decisions when choosing each of the following.”

Base: Has Any Travel Rewards Memberships

 

Does impact decision (NET)

Impacts my decision a great deal

Impacts my decision somewhat

Does not impact decision (NET)

Doesn’t impact my decision very much

Doesn’t impact my decision at all

%

%

%

%

%

%

Which hotel to stay at

61

26

35

39

17

21

Which airline to fly on 

61

27

33

39

14

26

Which company to rent a car from

40

14

26

60

21

39

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.

 

TABLE 4b

IMPACT OF REWARD PROGRAMS ON DECISIONS – Summary of “Does Impact”

By Generation, Travel Rewards

“You indicated being enrolled in one or more travel related rewards programs. Please indicate how strongly your reward program membership(s) impacts your decisions when choosing each of the following.”

Base: Has Any Travel Rewards Memberships

 

Total

Generation

Travel Rewards

Millennials (18-37)

Generation X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Credit or payment cards

Airline program membership

Hotel program membership

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Which hotel to stay at

61

64

65

56

63

58

61

73

Which airline to fly on

61

68

55

62

49

65

75

59

Which company to rent a car from

40

47

34

39

36

43

43

42

 

TABLE 4c

IMPACT OF REWARD PROGRAMS ON DECISIONS – Summary of “Does Impact”

By Commercial Airline Travel

“You indicated being enrolled in one or more travel related rewards programs. Please indicate how strongly your reward program membership(s) impacts your decisions when choosing each of the following.”

Base: Has Any Travel Rewards Memberships

 

Total

Commercial Airline Travel

Less than once a year or never

1 time a year or more

%

%

%

Which hotel to stay at

61

58

63

Which airline to fly on

61

39

75

Which company to rent a car from

40

34

44


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between April 16 and 20, 2015 among 2,215 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #35, June 24, 2015

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

 

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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