Gone are the “Up in the Air” days when only one thousand flyers and frequent travelers reaped the benefits of membership, like George Clooney’s character, flying thousands of miles to earn rewards.

Revamped programs

Fueled by customer demand and the challenging economic climate, hotels and airlines have revamped their reward programs, making it easier for even the infrequent traveler to earn free flights, free stays, free upgrades and other perks that come with being a loyalty program member. From more reward options to more customized benefits, hotels and airlines are working hard to offer programs that make your experience with their brand more unique and memorable.

Claim a reward

"When you sign up for the program you’re invited to give the hotel or airline company your preferences. Sharing this information allows you to cut through the clutter and get messages that fit your needs, lifestyle and vacation desires."

Did you know that you can claim a reward from an airline or hotel program after only a few flights or stays? There are many programs that let you redeem points/miles for gift cards, merchandise or even tickets to attractions and events for as few as 2,500 points/miles. Which means it won’t take you long to accumulate enough points to take your family to dinner at Olive Garden or “purchase” a pedometer. Of course, you can hold on to your points to save for something bigger. As long as you travel once a year, your points/miles won’t expire. The more you earn, the more redemption options you have.

A custom experience

Participating in these hotel and airlines loyalty programs also allows you to create a customized travel experience. When you sign up for the program you’re invited to give the hotel or airline company your preferences. Sharing this information allows you to cut through the clutter and get messages that fit your needs, lifestyle and vacation desires.

From how frequent you want to receive promotional emails and what types of offers you’re most interested in, to your destinations of choice and what you want to experience on the plane or during your stay, hotels and airlines use this information to your experience with them as personalized and as special as possible. Do you like to ski? Let them know and you’ll be one of the first to know about special ski getaway deals. Do you like feather pillows rather than foam? Share your preference and you’ll have just the right pillow waiting for you. And if you let them know you have a sweet-tooth,chances are you’ll find a piece of chocolate on top of your favorite pillow.