Tag Archive for: loyalty

(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.

(London, UK) Perceptions of loyalty points and miles redemptions has shifted in the wake of COVID-19. The lack of opportunity to travel since the beginning of COVID-19 is eroding the appeal of travel-related benefits from UK loyalty programmes. According to Auriemma’s latest research, 76% of credit cardholders enrolled in a loyalty scheme prefer to use their loyalty rewards for non-travel benefits. Meanwhile, only 35% of programme members intend to use their points or miles for travel-related benefits in 2021.

But how has this change in behaviour been impacting loyalty programmes, and how quickly, if at all, will these patterns return to previous norms?

The large volume of unused loyalty points mean high levels of financial exposure for brands on their balance sheets, which can cause a serious headache for company CFOs. Brands with loyalty programmes which are modelled heavily around offering travel redemptions, such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy, are at the highest risk in this scenario. As evidenced in April and May 2020 when Hilton Honors sold $1 billion Honors Points to American Express, and Marriot Bonvoy sold a similar $920 million points to American Express and JP Morgan Chase to build up much needed cash flow and reduce their points liability. This is only a temporary fix, however, and with travel restrictions still in place one year later, the problem of over-exposure persists for brands.

Some loyalty schemes have expanded their partnership approach to maintain member engagement and relevance. IAG Loyalty’s recent partnership with Nectar in January 2021 allows the direct  transfers of points between the two schemes providing low value redemptions to BA Executive Club members, also demonstrated with the launch of Virgin Red in November 2020 and its partnership with Greggs. Despite the apparent strengths of these partnerships, they can present poorer value to consumers which will test the theory as to how viable they are in the longer term, once travel restarts.

There remains hope as Auriemma found that 55% of consumers still enjoy earning travel rewards through their loyalty programme or credit card, many with plans to redeem these for travel-related benefits as soon as possible. With the continued effectiveness of UK’s vaccine rollout and the subsequent easing of restrictions, a return to travel could be around the corner.

“Now is the time for issuers and loyalty programmes to focus on member and cardholder engagement,” says Kate Morgan, Head of International Partnerships at Auriemma Group. “As consumer confidence in the ability to travel rises, the appeal of redeeming hard-earned points for bookings should, too. We have seen that delivering relevant, personalised offers and marketing is key, along with cancellation options that give customers the assurances they need to complete the booking process.”

While foreign holidays remain less of a certainty than domestic travel this summer, the airlines face a larger challenge than hotels who have a greater ability to turn the focus inwards on UK stays and vacations. Premier Inn owner Whitbread, UK’s largest hospitality company, is bracing for strong summer demand.  Nevertheless, as most hotel programmes exist without the cushion of commercial partnerships with non-travel-related loyalty schemes, the reopening of UK hotels might be the only opportunity for a profitable 2021.

“The nation eagerly awaits more clarity on the government’s foreign travel policy beginning on 17th May 2021,” says Kate, “and fingers crossed it is good news for the travel industry and the thousands of employees within this sector.”

Survey Methodology

Cardbeat UK

This Auriemma Group study was conducted online within the UK by an independent field service provider on behalf of Auriemma in November 2020, among 845 adult credit cardholders. The number of interviews completed is sufficient to allow for statistical significance testing between sub-groups at the 95% confidence level ± 5%, unless otherwise noted. The purpose of the research was not disclosed nor did the respondents know the criteria for qualification. The average interview length was 21 minutes.

About Auriemma Group

For more than 30 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognised 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 maximise their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, call Kate Morgan at +44 (0) 207 629 0075.

While major credit card issuers have offered the option to redeem rewards points as donations for years, some merchants are just now integrating this ability into their loyalty program.



(New York, NY):  As consumers migrate from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping, merchants have turned to omnichannel strategies and experiences to bolster loyalty and retention.

But consumers’ behavior has become increasingly fragmented: In the quest for deep discounts and convenience, allegiance to one particular merchant has taken a backseat.  In this environment, a key question facing merchants is what the future of shopper loyalty looks like, and how they can best position their offerings and experiences to capture it.

To answer it, merchants are increasingly turning to payments – an oft overlooked component of the shopping experience that can unlock store traffic, sales, and long-term brand loyalty.

“Increasingly, merchants are re-thinking the way co-brand and PLCC programs can deepen consumer loyalty,” said Gary Rezak, a director in Auriemma Consulting Group’s Global Partnerships practice. “These programs have the power to increase omnichannel productivity, boost in-store visits and drive new behaviors.”

The evidence that a card program can stimulate positive shopping behaviors is mounting, with 30% of co-brand and private label cardholders saying they spend more at the related and 73% reporting they feel more loyal to the related merchant, according to Auriemma’s February issue of Cardbeat®.

Here are other loyalty indicators well-executed programs can deliver to merchants:

  • More in-store visits. Even as store footprints shrink, garnering in-store visits is still king among retail performance metrics. Generally, cardholders have higher shopping frequency and larger average order sizes than non-cardholders. With more price competition than ever before, special sales events and mail-order coupons often do not achieve the same sales lift as they did historically. But card programs can provide a reason to return to the store – again and again. If a cardholder returns to the store just once early in its cardholder relationship, he or she is far more likely to return later: 30% of co-brand and private label cardholders say they’ve increased their spending with the retailers since getting the card, according to Auriemma’s Cardbeat research.


  • More special experiences. Perks and VIP experiences for cardholders, such as dressing room reservations, free alterations and special access to cardholder-only events are increasingly successful in generating in-store traffic and engagement. Look for an increasing focus on soft benefits, brand partnerships, personalized delivery, “surprise-and-delight” offers and special events embedded in value props going forward. And encouraging cardholders to “unlock” such perks could also be effective: When cardholders are given the opportunity to unlock richer rewards with increased spend, 25% say they spend enough to hit the reward threshold, according to Auriemma’s Cardbeat research.


  • More cross-channel sales. Consumers who shop in all three channels – store, online and mobile – are often the most profitable. Driving top-of-wallet behavior is crucial for online and mobile shopping, particularly without a store employee to remind the cardholder of the benefits. Knowing that your online or mobile shopper is an existing cardholder is a critical component of generating top-of-wallet spend. More retailers will begin requiring known customers to create log-ins for online check-out. While the sign-up process may be an initial speed-bump, its overall benefits, including prompting existing cardholders to use their card for savings or free shipping, is invaluable to drive spend without disrupting the check-out process.


  • More cross-over customers from non-tender loyalty programs. The value of loyalty programs is two-fold: data capture and targeted marketing. Increasingly, merchants are leveraging loyalty programs to screen and pre-approve potential credit-worthy applicants. However, there is potential for cannibalization between the two programs. (According to Auriemma’s Cardbeat research, 53% of cardholders enrolled in both a credit and non-tender program believe the rewards between both programs are the same.) Merchants can break this pattern by ensuring both programs have distinct value propositions with calibrated richness. In addition, enrollment in both programs can be highly attractive to customers, and increase in-store visits, if consumers can multiply rewards to accelerate their redemption opportunities in-store.


“Even in a challenging environment, there are numerous opportunities for merchants to break through the clutter, communicate compelling messages and engender more loyalty,” said Diana Middleton, Director of Auriemma’s Brand Partner Roundtable, an information-sharing group for senior retail payment executives. “As customers change the way they shop, merchants must ensure they have laid the groundwork to be the top-of-wallet tender for any transaction in any channel.”

About the Brand Partner Roundtable

Open exclusively to brands, including retailers and T&E partners, the Brand Partner Roundtable focuses on designing and executing card programs that benefit members’ core retail business. Discussions give participants the tools and information they need to improve their program’s value proposition and acquisition strategy, eliminate fraud, and fine-tune mobile and digital enhancements.

About Auriemma Group

Auriemma is a boutique management consulting firm with specialized focus on the Payments and Lending space. We deliver actionable solutions and insights that add value to our clients’ business activities across a broad set of industry topics and disciplines. For more information about Industry Roundtables, contact Tom LaMagna at (212) 323-7000.

© Copyright - Auriemma Group