Partnerships with hotel chains have been a mainstay of airline loyalty programs for decades. And now a “sharing economy” enterprise that some see as a threat to the hotel business is slowly wading into the same pool.
That enterprise is Airbnb, which has been making a concerted effort in recent months to court business travelers with things like automatic links to corporate expense reporting systems and up-front information about the business traveler-friendliness of its member properties. And it has seen business traveler bookings surge as a result. The obvious next step was airline loyalty programs.
Qantas just announced a new tie-in with Airbnb that will let its customers earn points in its frequent flyer program when they book through the Qantas website (www.qantas.com). Participants can earn one Qantas point for every dollar they spend on Airbnb accommodations worldwide, if they book through the Qantas site.
“We know many of our customers are just as likely to arrange an Airbnb as they are to book a hotel, and we wanted to recognize and reward them for that,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
Qantas isn’t the first airline to do this. About a year ago, Virgin America entered into a similar partnership with Airbnb for bookings made via a link at the Virgin website. Members of Virgin’s Elevate program earn one point per dollar spent on Airbnb. Members who have never used Airbnb before and create an account get a one-time bonus of 1,500 Elevate points and a $20 Airbnb credit. Virgin’s tie-in with Airbnb is currently effective through October 2017.
Meanwhile, United just added Airbnb to the vendors listed on its MileagePlus X smartphone app. The new partnership allows users to rack up three MileagePlus miles per dollar spent at Airbnb. If you aren’t using MileagePlus X yet, here’s a link to get started.
And American Express has a tie-in with Airbnb that lets its Membership Rewards participants pay with program points for Airbnb bookings. Members must create an Airbnb profile with their American Express login.
Readers: Would you be more likely to book Airbnb if it was affiliated with your primary airline? Post comments below.
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