Expedia Rewards Warns Us of Unspecified Changes Coming Throughout 2013

I’ve been an ‘Expedia Elite Plus’ member since that program was launched, and an Expedia VIP member long before that.

I actually like booking through Expedia, I often use Expedia Rewards as part of my quintuple dipping strategy when booking airfare. The website interface is pretty good. Online travel agencies can be advantageous versus airline websites not just for the rewards, but for ease of booking specific flights and connections, for combining airlines on a single ticket, not to mention that several US airline sites don’t allow use of a foreign-issued credit card, that you don’t have to show the credit card at check-in since it’s an agency ticket, and you can even choose which country your ticket is issued in (I can book through Expedia’s German, Spanish, Canadian or New Zealand websites for instance).

The only benefit I’ve really ever received out of the VIP or Elite program is skipping the telephone hold queues when calling. And I don’t much trust Expedia Rewards as a store of value, the way I generally trust Starwood Preferred Guest. They are more on my ‘Amtrak Guest Rewards naughty list’.

Expedia Rewards sent out emails today to say they are making changes to the program. But they aren’t saying what those changes are.

They tell you the changes are re-imagining the program. Only we don’t know how. And all we have to go so far are that:

  • Past changes to the program have been all negative. They have devalued the award chart, and taken away the MileageManager benefit.
  • They are merging the Expedia Rewards and Expedia Elite programs, though there’s no actual difference to the consumer.

There’s literally nothing that any consumer can do with this information. Instead we get a Rube Goldberg-style map showing signposts at which unspecified changes will be made.

We don’t know what the changes are, there’s little history to expect positive changes, and they’re unwilling to tell us now. While there’s a non-zero chance the changes could be good, there’s nothing to suggest that in this communication. And having shared this non-news with us, what exactly are we supposed to do differently as a result? As far as I can tell, nothing. Which makes me wonder why they sent out the email? (And will make some of you wonder, I suppose, why I’m writing this post — except to point out that the program exists, there will be changes to it, and it’s better than not having a program at all.)

They even use my absolute least favorite word when referring to any loyalty program: enhance. I have almost never seen anything positive correlate with the use of that word. Memo to all loyalty marketing executives — whenever you actually do something positive, don’t call it an ‘enhancement’ because we won’t believe you — the word has been so abused by your colleagues to mask “taking away the things you care about most.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Does that lock on the map mean they’re going to lock away all the value and leave you with nothing and no way to do anything about it?

  2. “Enhance” and “In order to serve you better” strike fear in me. I once got a letter from a brokerage firm I was using saying “in order to server you better we are moving our offices to Cleveland” which is great if you live in Cleveland, but I’m in Chicago! Needless to say I don’t do business with them any more. Gotta love the spin doctors!

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