Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
In the past few weeks, we have seen a lot of the big airlines and hotel chains offering status extensions to members of their loyalty programs but we have also seen quite a few loyalty programs choosing a different path and, instead, choosing to take much shorter-term measures.
This short-termism doesn’t really make any sense to me but what makes even less sense is the argument that I’ve seen put forward to explain (or excuse) the moves being taken by the likes of British Airways and IHG Rewards.
The argument says that it makes sense for loyalty programs not to extend elite statuses unless they absolutely have to because extending status removes the incentive for people to fly with the airline or stay at the hotel chain that extended that status. The argument goes on to say that with status secured, people will feel free to defect to other airlines/hotel chains and attempt to earn status with them.
That argument would be fine if everyone was just in the business of collecting as many elite statues as they can and seeing how many they can get in a year, but how many people really act like that?
The main reason to have elite status is to enjoy the benefits that come with that status so why would most people immediately jump ship once a loyalty program shores up their status? Wouldn’t it be more logical to expect people to make more bookings with an airline or hotel chain that has given them elite status as they look to make their travels cheaper, more rewarding, and more comfortable?
If British Airways was to extend my Gold status for another year I wouldn’t be looking to see what other airlines I could fly. I’d want to make sure that I made the most of all the benefits that persuaded me to get that status in the first place:
- Enhanced Economy Class award seat availability (I use this on short-haul only)
- Enhanced Avios earnings
- Access to First Class and Business Class lounges even when I’m flying in Economy Class
- Group 1 boarding
- Free seat selection at the time of booking
- Access to Economy Class exit rows free of charge (and at the time of booking)
- Access to priority check-in and security (especially the “First Wing” when I’m passing through Heathrow)
If I defected to another airline or alliance I wouldn’t get most of those benefits and my trips would be less comfortable and possibly even a little more expensive.
I can make a similar argument for why a status extensions from a hotelier wouldn’t suddenly see me moving all my business elsewhere to see what another chain is offering. I’d be much more likely to continue staying with the hotel chain that extended my status because I’d want to continue enjoying benefits like, upgrades, enhanced points earnings, late check-outs, and complimentary breakfasts and I wouldn’t be particularly interested in going elsewhere and starting from scratch.
Who would be?
The reason why most of us like having airline and hotel status isn’t that we like to collect statuses or because they make us feel important (you’d have to be a rather sad individual for that to be true), it’s because we like what those statuses offer us. We like how we’re treated better by hotel chains and airlines with whom we have status and we like the benefits that come with those statuses…so why would we run away to see what’s on offer elsewhere if a hotelier or airline extended the time in which we could enjoy all of that?
The argument that extending an elite member’s staus will encourage that member to look elsewhere now that they no longer have to meet the elite status criteria that that loyalty program has put in place makes very little sense to me and is patently untrue for the vast majority of people out there…so why do I keep hearing it and reading it?
Featured Image: JW Marriott Venice courtesy of Marriott