June 17 2010 by Chris McGinnis
We recently completed another survey of the Best Western Diamond 100 advisory board (BWD100) in which we asked about plans to redeem loyalty points for summer travel.
When the super-frequent travelers in this group talk, Best Western listens closely--- it's made up of nearly 400 Best Western Rewards member who have spent more than 250 nights with the chain in the last five years.
Two things jumped out to me as surprising findings:
First, since many BWD100 members work for themselves, I thought they'd most frequently redeem points for free night rewards to help cut business travel costs...but I was wrong. Members overwhelmingly (85 percent of them!) redeem their Best Western Rewards points for leisure trips. "Working hard deserves a leisure-type reward since I am gone so much--just ask my wife!" said one member. Another observed, "My company pays my business-related hotel bills, but lets me keep the rewards for vacations which is a nice perk." But speaking for most, another said, "Earn 'em on business, spend 'em on pleasure - the only way to go!"
Here's something we did not ask directly but the answer came through clearly in comments: the high frequency of redeeming Best Western Rewards points for retail gift cards. As always, family members seem to be the beneficiaries of these bennies. "I cash my points in for gift cards that I give to my wife to spend on things around the house...things I get to see on the four or so days a month I'm home," wrote one member. Another said, "I let my granddaughters pick gift cards out to be given as gifts for their parents." Several mentioned redeeming points for gasoline cards or Home Depot gift cards for home remodeling projects.
Other interesting findings:
- Most BWD100 members (61 percent) say they plan to cash in Rewards points for trips this summer. However, many also said they've depleted their Rewards accounts in recent years and are now building them back up for redemptions beyond this summer.
- BWD100 members are good planners, with over half saying they make summer hotel reservations at least two weeks before arrival. "I book earlier during the summer because I frequently encounter sell-outs at the last minute...especially along interstates," wrote on member. Twenty-seven percent said they make them about one week out. Only about 5 percent make them on the same day. "I just drive until I'm ready to stop, and then I look for the blue and gold sign!" wrote one member.
- It's no surprise that 44 percent of BWD100 members take their longest vacation trip during the summer. But what was surprising is that so few (10 percent) take long trips in the spring.