One of the best ways to get people to care about points for the first time is to simply show them the good stuff. Book that hotel room, flight or travel experience that makes them realize it’s not just hoopla and let them enjoy it to the max.
This was booked with points…for real? Yeah.
Yet when it comes to sharing experiences with points, things aren’t quite so seamless. Many companies either charge a significant fee to transfer points to another account, only let the individual account holder redeem the points or make it really difficult to move points.
There are a bunch of perceived logical reasons for this, but a trend is emerging where the sharing of points is actually encouraged.
Why Banks, Airlines And Hotels Protect Points
Travel points are aspirational, but ultimately they are a cash alternative and have real implications. At every airline, bank or hotel issuing points, they’re treated like a major currency and large teams of people people spend considerable time ensuring that they are flowing in and out the door in an optimal way and that fraud is minimized.
A bank would react quickly if you were to claim fraud on a $1,000 purchase, and so too would a travel brand or credit card company if you were to claim fraud on a 100,000 point transaction.
And fraud or mismanagement can be pretty “vague”, when you consider someone’s kids using their points without authorization, or business owners squabbling over how to divvy all the points earned on their corporate accounts.
To many airlines, banks and hotels, it’s easier to just slap a lot of red tape on who can redeem points or transfer points than to deal with the millions of situations outside of their immediate control, which can result in dissatisfaction and loss. That’s pretty easy to do and it’s accomplished a few different ways.
- By automatically making the account holder the named guest on the reservation.
- By requiring any people you wish to share points with to be added to a named list.
- By limiting online functionality to require call ins for any sharing transaction.
That may, or may not be the right way to go and lately, people are finally wondering if the latter is actually simpler for everyone thanks to technology.
Opening Up Points Sharing For All
In the US, Marriott has become a world leader at allowing points to be shared socially. Any two people with Marriott Bonvoy accounts can login online, and with some basic detail, can freely share points with any other person. In the UK, fintech startup Yonder is setting the trend, with open points sharing for all.
As long as accounts are properly secured, which thanks to things like 2FA (two factor authentication) is fairly straightforward and de-risked, it feels better to err on the side of ease and joy for members than bureaucratic processes.
It’s also a lot cheaper for the business to create an online functionality to than to perpetually operate a call center to handle transfer requests. Plus, who wants to pick up the phone and listen to jazz music these days?
Points Sharing Allows Incredible Member Experiences
We all have people who we value and love in some way. Being able to create travel joy and create emotional and aspirational experiences for others is such a fun way to turn points from something mundane to meaningful.
Tell your friends who don’t have enough points to upgrade their honeymoon flights that “you got them”, you just need their account number and they’ll be whisked over in an instant. Let your sister book that better hotel on her much needed vacation all by sharing your points.
The joyous reasons and possibilities are endless and when they’re made easy, they’re a whole lot more fun.
I somewhat recently leant a friend 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points just before they added online points sharing. I had to call in and it was all fine, but it was an “effort” to make it happen. I had to carve time to call, wait, explain and all that stuff.
When that friend built their points balance back up, they couldn’t believe how easy it was to send me 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points back online. It actually prompted a “how awesome is this” discussion about other ways we’d share points with friends.