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How Loyalty Perks Unlock Hotel Co-Brand Card Potential

(New York, NY) Co-branded hotel credit cards earn consumers exclusive benefits and rewards tailored to brands they love. They function similarly to proprietary rewards cards, but there are several unique factors that inspire hotel card acquisition, usage, and loyalty. Auriemma Group’s latest issue of Cardbeat US delves into co-brand credit cards and loyalty programs, uncovering that experience-based perks and brand affinity are key to a hotel co-brand’s success.

60% of credit cardholders say experience-based benefits would make them more interested in applying for a hotel card. Room upgrades have the largest impact, followed by complimentary food and beverage, the occasional free hotel stay, early check in/check out options, and free Wi-Fi. In total, the desirability of these experience-based benefits outweighs that of spend-based rewards, which 49% of credit cardholders cite as driving factors for hotel card application.

“To cultivate guest loyalty, hotel card issuers must emphasize the unique experience their cards provide,” says Jonathan O’Connor, Senior Manager at Auriemma. “Issuers should not underestimate the value of a tangible perk, which is often more accessible to cardholders than calculating points. While rewards remain an important piece of the puzzle, experiential benefits are stronger drivers of pre-acquisition interest in hotel co-brands.”

Loyalty status also factors into hotel card acquisition and usage. Though ongoing rewards and attractive sign-up offers drive hotel co-brand applications, 31% of hotel co-brand credit cardholders say improving loyalty status also plays an important role. This is particularly pronounced for Marriott cardholders, 39% of whom say they applied to improve their loyalty status with Marriott.

Loyalty perks also have an incredible impact on off-brand spending. 83% of hotel co-brand cardholders say enhanced loyalty status upgrades motivate them to use their card for off-brand spend. Access to VIP experiences also motivates 51% of these cardholders.

“Envisioning an upgraded room, amenity, or enhanced service because of card spend is a significant motivator,” says O’Connor. “Knowing that greater card engagement can lead to an elevated hotel stay gives cardholders a north star to build towards.”

The distinguishing factor between hotel cards (and co-brand cards in general) and their proprietary rewards counterparts lies in the loyalty perks they offer. The ability to highlight experiences and a clear path to perks is what separates hotel cards from programs that have their cardholders doing the math.

“The key to unlocking a hotel card program’s full potential is the benefits that standard credit cards cannot provide,” says O’Connor. “Hotel co-brand issuers that look beyond the table stakes of a viable credit card program and emphasize experience-based perks and brand affinity will win over those that strictly focus on monetary rewards.”

Survey Methodology

Cardbeat US

This Auriemma Group study was conducted online within the US by an independent field service provider on behalf of Auriemma Group (Auriemma) in June 2023 among 1600 adult credit cardholders. The number of interviews completed for both is sufficient to allow for statistical significance testing among sub-groups at the 95% confidence level ±5%, unless otherwise noted. The purpose of the research was not disclosed, nor did respondents know the criteria for qualifying.

About Auriemma Group

For more than 35 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognized experts in four primary areas: operational effectiveness, consumer research, co-brand partnerships, and corporate finance. Our business intelligence and advisory services give clients access to the data, expertise and tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex environment and maximize their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in New York City and London. For more information, call Jonathan O’Connor at (+1) 1-646-437-6116.

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