Loyalty Programs - May 2015
Get the most out of your vacations when you find out about the latest in Loyalty Programs.
Expedia-ting World Domination?
2015 has been quite a year for Expedia, as it assimilated rivals Orbitz and Travelocity into its portfolio in January. Through its $1.33 billion deal with Orbitz, Expedia gains access to the namesake brand, as well as brands like CheapTickets and HotelClub. This adds to a stable of “household name” travel site brands, including Hotels.com and Hotwire.com.
According to Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Orbitz was a particularly attractive acquisition option in part because of its highly recognized brands and loyal customers. Expedia also liked Orbitz’ loyalty program, and has installed plans to invest in it and expand upon it.
Though some consumer groups expressed concern that Expedia’s acquisitions may result in less competition and higher fares and room rates for consumers, industry expert Jason Clampet, head of content at the travel intelligence company Skift, points out that, “It’s been a two-horse race for a while now. Expedia and Priceline are the big two giants in the U.S., but there are still a ton of ways to buy travel.”
Marriott Continues to Expand Worldwide
The acquisition of the 116-property Protea Hospitality Group last April was the tipping factor that made Marriott the largest hotel company in Africa. However, Marriott Rewards aren’t available at all of the locations yet. Point earning and spending eligibility has just recently been made available at 26 of the Protea Hotel South African locations—in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Rewards points are set to roll out by the end of the year to the remaining properties located in six African countries: Zambia, Nigeria, Namibia, Malawi, Uganda, and Tanzania.
Ethiopian Airlines Continues to Make Aviation History
Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and most profitable airline in Africa and the second fastest-growing national carrier in the world, has enjoyed a banner year.
To highlight a few Ethiopian historical moments, the airlines unveiled its first Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The ultra-modern 787 serving the Addis Ababa-Dublin-L.A. route will offer extensive on-board comfort to passengers for the long haul (figuratively and literally) with greatly reduced noise, higher cabin air humidity, the biggest windows in the sky, and spacious cabin interior.
In March, Ethiopian’s 787 Dreamliner made a scheduled first visit to Dublin Airport. Earlier this year, the largest airline in Africa announced that it would commence three-times-weekly flights direct from Dublin to Addis Ababa and Los Angeles on the Dreamliner ahead of its inaugural flight to Los Angeles on June 20.
In December, at the “2014 Best of Awards Gala,” Ethiopian Airlines was awarded “Best Airline to Africa” by the most prominent travel magazine in the United States. Commenting on the award, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said, “We are honored that Premier Traveler Magazine’s readers in the U.S. have selected us as the best airline for travel to Africa. I wish to thank them for this vote of confidence, which once again reaffirms the quality of the service and product we offer.”
With the addition of Dublin, the airline’s 11th European city (now recognized officially as their European hub), and Los Angeles (its fourth point in the Americas), Ethiopian’s international network will cover 85 destinations across five continents.
Ethiopian Airlines was also pleased to announce that it began new services to Tokyo Narita International Airport as of April 21, 2015 in codeshare agreement with fellow Star Alliance member All Nippon Airways, Japan’s leading airline. The thrice-weekly flight, the only direct connection between Africa and Japan, will be operated through Hong Kong with the aforementioned Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to provide the utmost comfort to its passengers.
Change? Not Always Good
Southwest has announced upcoming changes regarding its Rapid Rewards program. Members have been fearing the worst: devaluation. Set to go in place April 17, the airline announced that more factors will be taken into account when calculating the amount of points needed for a free flight.
If members’ worst fears come to fruition, this change will follow suit with the point devaluation that other airline reward programs such as Delta’s SkyMiles and United’s Mileage Plus have gone through within the last year. Long gone will be days of the refreshing transparency Rapid Rewards has had up until now, when all you had to do to determine the amount of points needed for a free ticket was multiply the base fare by 70, 100, or 120 for “Wanna get away,” “Anytime,” or “Business Select” tickets, respectively.