During the last few months, airline-hotel partnerships and the code sharing of points between airlines have become increasingly common. Known as crossover (or coalition) programs, one of the most well known examples is Delta Airlines and Starwood Hotel’s Crossover Rewards program – a collaboration that Brian Kelly, aka The Points Guy, strongly endorses. Launched in February 2013, the program allows members to accumulate points for both hotel stays and flights.
In a nod toward this type of sharing, Marriott Hotels and United recently merged their respective reward programs into RewardsPlus. Now Marriott Rewards members receive a 20% discount when converting points from the Marriott Rewards program to United’s MileagePlus program.
While airlines’ frequent flyer programs and hotel partnerships are great for customer engagement, such agreements are limited in scope as they’re only between two parties.
That’s why Points has built a loyalty program hub, a place where multiple loyalty program partners (including airlines and hotels) enable consumers to track, trade, exchange and redeem their earned points for more valuable deals and, even more importantly, to create better experiences. Doing so helps marketers expand their customer base while customers have more options from which to choose.
Aggregation, the convergence of technologies and the mixing and matching of airline rewards programs with other industries marks the continuation of a trend spurred by economic factors: the need to do more with less.
So, what’s next for sharing between programs?
One-to-one crossover rewards have their place as they’ve begun to give consumers more of what they want. There’s no question that their popularity will increase. But it’s only a beginning. Loyalty hubs like the one we have created is where consumers will be going next. And it will be up to airlines, hotels, the entertainment industry, retailers, and third-party loyalty program providers to merge and cooperate to take loyalty to the next level – leveraging the right technology to do so. And as mobile wallets and virtual currency become even more commonplace, the need for integrated loyalty solutions will only grow as consumers seek more flexibility from their rewards and the programs they engage with, encouraging sharing between many different kinds programs to make the redemption process easier and more exciting.
What types of cooperation and mergers between programs would you like to see happening in the next year?