I was discussing with a friend their planned to trip to London to capitalize on sterling parity. The pound and the dollar being worth the same amount is an opportunity for American travelers. The conversation turned to optimizing for travel points structures, maintaining status, and other loyalty programs. I suppose anyone who finds traveling opportunities during a currency crisis almost certainly enjoys a good deal and being rewarded for consumption during hard times.
The pandemic upset so many consumer patterns that it’s a little bit hard to remember why we bought some of the things we did in the past. We’ve got vague positive memories and we are attempting to recreate them. Travel is inarguably one of the most confused spaces in the wake of those upheavals. Status got rolled over so when travel opened back up stuff got weird. Lounges got more crowded just as business travelers were being removed from the financial base of the space. It led to a lot of chaos this summer as the economics got reliance’s.
The most loyal travelers got back on the proverbial road in the aftermath and were met with materially worse products despite paying just as much as the remembered in the past. For all of the rich yuppies who showed up to say Italy or other Mediterranean vacations, they were reminded that travel wasn’t so glamorous without the perks. And it certainly made more than a few of us consider the economics of being on the road.
There are other industries where loyalty is being rewarded with worse producers and shittier user experiences. I’ve been experiencing quite a bit of disappointment with the offerings in cosmetics recently. I’ve complained endlessly about shittier packaging and lower grade formulations even though I haven’t really cut down my spending any. Like the loyal travelers, I am putting up with less quality as I don’t really want to simply stop a hobby I enjoy.
But how long will residual loyalty and affection remain? If travel to London must be combined with currency debasement and travel rewards perhaps our loyalty is not endless. Consumers often underestimate our power with industry because it takes them some time to adapt. But if we don’t change our behaviors in response to dwindling quality or service the incentive structures don’t force improvements. The balance is cost of loyalty.