Loyalty programs and points play key role in travel decisions, study finds.

Loyalty programs and points play key role in travel decisions, study finds.

Loyalty points matter, according to Choice Hotel International’s annual study of American travel habits. Close to 61 percent of travelers surveyed reported that loyalty points and programs impact where they choose to stay, and 57 percent say they save up all their hotel loyalty points to use toward a summer vacation. The study also found that almost half of American travelers (44 percent) have a lot of hotel loyalty points stashed up, but no time to use them.

The survey of 1,000 adults who have traveled in the past year for leisure was completed through Lightspeed GMI’s double opted-in panelists who have registered to participate in online surveys. Other findings include:

  • Road trips are in. 72 percent of travelers are going by car this summer – road tripping to their destinations.
  • Doing it for the Instagram. Almost one in 10 travelers say their summer travels are motivated by the opportunity to brag to friends and family on social media.
  • Mighty maids. Almost half (42 percent) of travelers like to stay in a hotel during the summer because they don’t have to clean the bathroom.
  • Cuba in the pipeline. 58 percent of Americans say they are likely to visit Cuba once the travel embargo lifts, however 42 percent say they would not visit in the first year.
  • Work. Work. Work. Work. Play. Three in five (62 percent) business travelers add leisure vacations onto their business trips.
  • Kids? What kids? Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) business travelers extend their business trips with leisure time as a way to have free time away from their spouse and/or kids.

The survey also uncovered different travel personality archetypes of American travelers, who they enjoy travelling with, and who they can’t stand traveling with.

  • Experience Travelers (26 percent): These travelers are all about the experience and activities while traveling. It’s about the journey, not the destination, for these adventurers.
  • Budget Travelers (19 percent): While these travelers may not get everything on their wish list, they maximize their opportunities within their budget.
  • Luxury Travelers (16 percent): These Americans like high-end vacations, with luxury treatment from start to finish, from dining at the best restaurants to shopping at the high-end stores.
  • Nature Travelers (9 percent): Exploring the outdoors and having nature experiences like camping while traveling is what these travelers prefer.
  • Local Travelers (9 percent): Authentic experiences and steering away from tourist traps drive these travelers. Going off the beaten path to explore hidden gems that locals hold as best kept secrets makes for a great trip.
  • Social Travelers (8 percent): It’s all about beefing up their social media game for these travelers. They travel for social media bragging rights.
  • History Travelers (7 percent): These adventurers seek out trips that have rich history to experience and explore. They love standing where famous people once stood and integrating themselves into the culture.
  • Control Freak Travelers (6 percent): Organizing and planning every detail of the trip is what these travelers live by. And when things don’t go according to plan, the stress kicks in.

“As we swing into the summer travel months, Choice is here to help travelers go from work to play. American travelers are finding it difficult to make that work/life balance distinction which gives us a great opportunity to help make the transition from business to leisure traveler convenient,” said Pat Pacious, President and COO, Choice Hotels. “With three in five business travelers saying their only vacations are when they tack on leisure trips to their business endeavors, brands like Choice work hard to offer the best of both worlds at our properties from business centers and free WiFi to craft beer bars and properties in key vacation destinations.”