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How loyalty has become a hobby for customers at Marriott

The absolute best result we can get from a loyalty program is that it gets customers more involved with the brand. 

NY Times: Meet the People Who Can’t Get Enough Hotel Points (You’ll Learn Something), 2018-May-15 by Alan Blinder

“I’ve had a chance to read some of your posts,” Mr. Flueck [David Flueck, SVP Global Loyalty] told the group in a tone that set off a roar of laughter.

“We were just kidding,” a woman called out.

Except they almost certainly weren’t.

A gathering of self-educated points experts — and the notion that Marriott would send an executive to spend Saturday night at it — is a reflection of simultaneous eras: one in which travel loyalty currencies have come to stand as both a hobby and cottage industry, and one in which the internet has seemingly transformed everyone into an airline, hotel or restaurant critic.

In the early 1980s, when the most consequential frequent flier programs made their debuts, industry executives thought they were giving rise only to a clever marketing effort that would discourage travelers from toggling among brands. They did not foresee that, decades later, people would be weaving together weekends built around pub crawls and points strategies.

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