Despite efforts at simplification, the never-ending “shell game” of loyalty-marketing keeps getting more complicated. Whether we’re talking about the increasingly confusing airline mile redemption options or new types of loyalty programs from non-traditional players like HotelTonight, the travel industry seems to recognize that the current model isn’t working.

Instead, many in the industry are realizing the importance of flexibility as the core of any successful loyalty program.

Though the concept of loyalty flexibility can take many forms, the benefit of this approach is that it no longer forces customers into a “one size fits all” approach. It instead allows customers to choose from a range of options in how to earn and redeem their points.

What kinds of flexible loyalty programs will see more adoption shortly? And which features will loyalty marketers integrate into their programs?

Read on for more thoughts, plus the rest of this week’s top digital marketing news.

Research Says Travelers Think Most Loyalty Programs are “Old-Fashioned”
The travel industry’s loyalty programs are in a state of flux. The old days of “one-to-one” point redemptions are being swapped out for spending-based initiatives and fresh reward options. But what do today’s travelers truly want from loyalty programs? According to new research on the topic by corporate travel and travel services company Collinson Group, flexibility will be a key program feature moving forward. Read more

More Travelers Say They Will Stop Using Brands After a Bad Experience
Customer service has always been a crucial component of the travel experience. But in today’s environment of real-time social media and online reviews, it’s gotten even more important. As highlighted in a new report, many travelers say they will stop using brands from the sharing economy and hotel sector after a single bad experience. Read more

Tourism Ireland Grabs Award for Game of Thrones Marketing Campaign
Destination marketers recognize the power of film and TV shows to raise the profile of their locations among potential travelers. Tourism Ireland is one such example. The country’s marketing arm tied into Northern Ireland’s use as a key filming location for the popular HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones by using a series of short films to help play up the connection. Read more

Airbnb Sparks Debate Over the Company’s New Chinese-Language Name
As part of a broader brand relaunch initiative in China, Airbnb announced last month it was changing the company’s Chinese language name to “Aibiying,” a name that loosely translates as “welcome each other with love.” The problem is that many Chinese social media users are interpreting the name to mean the company is in the business of selling sex toys. Read more

Marriott Debuts New Original Content Series on Snapchat
Thanks to its IPO earlier this year and massive user engagement metrics, more travel brands are experimenting with social messaging network Snapchat. The latest program comes from Marriott, which is testing out a new unscripted content program where various travelers document a weeklong stay in various Marriott properties around the world. Read more

Photo Credit: New research emphasizes travelers' changing attitudes toward industry loyalty programs. Sean MacEntee / Flickr