Sustainability in Travel 2021: Environmental Impact of Hotel and Airline Loyalty Programs

by Wouter Geerts + Skift Team - Jul 2021

Skift Research Take

Travel loyalty programs really are frequency programs. As frequency is directly linked to emissions in travel, how can travel companies find environmentally friendly ways to reward its most valuable customers?

Report Overview

In previous reports, Skift Research has investigated the environmental policies and practices of the six largest hotel and airline companies. This research found that the average CO2 equivalent emissions per room or per mile flown can differ considerably.

To further strengthen our understanding of the impact of travel companies on the emission output, we discuss our analysis of the emission volumes of loyalty programs in this report. All six hotel and airline companies have loyalty programs, which in effect are frequency programs which require more stays or more miles flown to achieve certain status levels.

In this report we highlight how much the average traveler emits on their way from an entry level status tier to the highest achievable tier. We also pose some questions to the industry on how to change and improve their loyalty approaches to mitigate their environmental impact.

What You'll Learn From This Report

  • The importance of loyalty programs to travel players, and the continued interest by travelers
  • The average CO2e emissions to achieve the lowest and highest hotel status tiers
  • The average CO2e emissions to achieve the lowest and highest airlines status tiers
  • How these emissions stack up against the emissions from other activities
  • How airlines and hotels can start a process of moving away from only rewarding frequency of travel