2021 travel guide: Covid restrictions, vaccines, flight cancellations, cruises and more
When will I be traveling on business again? And what about my loyalty miles?
This was the year when business travel stagnated, driving the profitability of airlines, hotels and convention halls. For a while, this also put at risk the loyalty point balances coveted as freebie by frequent business travelers and many others, as miles and credit card points seemed less valuable when no one was not traveling.
But points programs are far from dead, experts say, citing better booking terms, the growing value of loyal customers to travel agencies, and the advent of creative programs that can let you spend points like money more easily for things other than plane tickets or magazines. subscriptions. In these largely stationary times, programs are keen to retain existing members.
âMost airlines have increased the value of their points by removing fees,â said Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy, a travel rewards site. He also noted that the fees for re-routing or reimbursing miles on canceled trips have been removed. “The redemption of miles is more interesting because they are fully refundable, while cash tickets are changeable.”
The points bank – still growing somewhat thanks to travel-rewards credit cards that have grown to offer bonuses on things like groceries during the pandemic – and the growing opportunities to travel with the widespread distribution of vaccines suggest that competition to swap for seats is coming, leading to a possible devaluation of points. But not anytime soon, experts say, in part because many airlines have used their loyalty programs as collateral when they borrowed money during the pandemic.
âAirlines will be careful not to compromise customer value and loyalty once the crisis has subsided,â said Vik Krishnan, Travel Practice Partner at McKinsey & Company, Business Consultants.
Most analysts expect the short-term travel recovery to be driven by leisure travelers desperate to vacation or see family, not business travelers.
In addition to health concerns and the freeze on business travel, âbusiness travelers need a place to go and currently the office occupancy rate is very, very low, so there is no no real reason to go to a city, âsaid Jan D. Freitag, national director of hospitality market analysis at Costar Group, a commercial real estate company, pointing to data showing office occupancy rates is on average about 24% nationally.