Ascenda, a technology company that includes TransferConnect, the world’s largest frequent traveler miles, and points exchange, has found that people are exchanging their points for travel more than they were prior to the pandemic, and that could set the industry towards its recovery faster than expected.
During the pandemic, rewards transfers dropped more than 80 percent during a 60-day period following March 2020, when the pandemic was officially declared and global travel was highly restricted or completely banned.
By the new year, however, vaccination rates, easing restrictions, and pent-up demand have led to a rise in rewards transfers. This rise is prominent in the U.S., where the transfers into frequent flyer miles have surpassed pre-pandemic levels since April 2021.
Hotel rewards points have also grown. While hotel points transfers made up less than 10 percent of transfers in 2019, it has grown to make up 30 percent of all transfers and continues its growth.
How does this new data inform what we know about the current state of the travel industry? It means that more individuals with loyalty programs are willing and eager to travel, especially by plane and that hotel stays are on the rise. Confidence in both the method of travel and accommodation type has grown, too.
The Independence Day weekend saw just 21 percent fewer people flying by air than 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, but that doesn’t mean that the same number of people weren’t traveling; the pandemic has awakened the nation’s love for road-tripping, and it’s easy to imagine that more people decided to take their cars on a long road trip if they’re not yet comfortable taking public transportation, like flying.
“As the pandemic unfolded, the world’s eyes were glued to plummeting operating statistics published by airlines and travel industry bodies across the world,” said Sebastian Grobys, Chief Commercial Officer at Ascenda. “Since then, there have been many attempts to analyze the slope of the recovery curve and make predictions about the future, for example looking at forwarding booking patterns. Today we’re excited to contribute a new and unique source of data that shows frequent flier mile transfers are rising significantly in a strong signal of accelerating recovery.”
While this new data doesn’t cover the entire scope of the travel industry, it does suggest that large travel corporations, like the biggest airlines and hotel chains with functioning loyalty programs, will be the first to recover from the pandemic’s impact.
Source: Travel Pulse
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