After two years of trip-planning uncertainty, a growing number of travelers are looking for the peace of mind and protection that travel insurance provides. Hospitality brands can improve guest loyalty by making enhanced insurance products and offers available — otherwise, potential guests may look elsewhere for that boost of confidence.
The hospitality sector continues to rebound post-pandemic, as travelers make up for lost time by booking all types of trips. Whether seeking hotel stays for international “bucket list” vacations, local weekend getaways, or week-long workcations, travelers are gravitating toward hotels that offer booking flexibility and generous cancellation policies — but many travelers don’t take the time to research and select a travel insurance policy for their hotel.
Allianz Partners, which has a long history of serving travelers across the globe, recognized this opportunity last year when it collaborated with Marriott International, becoming the first company outside of smaller all-inclusive brands to offer insurance directly within a major hotel chain’s booking platform. The collaboration allows Marriott to offer its guests added trip protection when booking their hotel stay through the Marriott website and the iOS version of the Marriott Bonvoy mobile app.
To learn more about how the companies are working together to enhance the guest experience while also driving ancillary revenue, SkiftX spoke with Tom Trotta, vice president of sales and partnerships at Allianz Partners, and Peggy Fang Roe, global officer, customer experience, loyalty and new ventures at Marriott.
SkiftX: How does Allianz Partners leverage its advantages as an established financial institution and a nimble innovator to adapt to changing traveler trends coming out of the pandemic?
Tom Trotta: We quickly added temporary claims accommodations when the pandemic began to help travelers who became ill with Covid either before their trip began or while they were traveling. We’re proud that we were able to move quickly to address what was a fast-moving, evolving situation. While losses due to epidemics were fully excluded from coverage at the time, taking care of our policyholders was the right thing to do for them and for our industry partners.
During that time, we also put additional accommodations in place to provide customers with refunds of their travel insurance premium when their trip was canceled by their travel supplier due to Covid. Since then, we’ve enhanced our product portfolio with new coverage for several epidemic-related situations — this coverage is now available in most states. We continue to leverage our capabilities to develop new products that help our customers who are now navigating a new normal. Additionally, our free TravelSmart app includes resources to help travelers with features such as real-time travel alerts, vetted medical provider locators, and medical translations to help them before and after they arrive at their destinations.
SkiftX: What’s unique about the collaboration between Allianz Partners and Marriott?
Trotta: We’re thrilled to be working with Marriott to offer exciting new products, including one policy that can cover everyone staying in a room, even if they are not on the reservation, for covered events that may unexpectedly arise before or during a customer’s trip. These new products provide reimbursement for prepaid, non-refundable expenses beyond just the cost of the room, up to the limit of the policy.
In situations when the property’s cancellation penalties are not a concern for their guests, other products may cover — subject to the plan’s terms, conditions, and exclusions — in-trip issues like lost baggage, missing items, and trip delays and interruptions. For international trips we add coverages like emergency medical and dental, medical evacuations, and individually ordered quarantines. Our insurance products and assistance services provide additional confidence many guests may need to book their next trip.
SkiftX: Why is travel insurance particularly valuable for Marriott guests today, and how does Marriott meet guest needs with its insurance strategy?
Peggy Fang Roe: Taking care of our guests while they explore the world has always been a core principle for our company, and today’s less predictable travel environment has made the need to protect travel decisions more urgent.
Together with Allianz Partners, we are designing new and innovative ways to provide guests with confidence and peace of mind when they travel. Allianz’s industry-leading product provides protection for all travelers in the party and protects trip purchases beyond the hotel stay, which is a true game-changer. This new travel insurance product is another example of how we are transforming to provide more thoughtful benefits and value to travelers across their entire trip.
SkiftX: The guest experience begins with booking, which travelers increasingly expect to be seamless and personalized. Why was it important to offer the ability to buy insurance directly in the purchase path?
Fang Roe: You are absolutely correct; customers are increasingly expecting guest experiences that are seamless and personalized, and this includes providing insurance options that fit guest needs. That’s why we’ve worked with Allianz Partners to curate a range of policies that vary in price, coverage, and benefits that are easily available for purchase at the time of booking. This can help save travelers valuable time and effort.
SkiftX: How does Allianz Partners ensure that it is surfacing the most relevant offers and experiences alongside its hospitality partners during the booking process?
Trotta: Our e-commerce booking platform, known as Fusion CORE, is a state-of-the-art technology solution that helps optimize a personalized insurance offer for each guest’s reservation, all within a fraction of a second. This saves guests time and helps get them the coverage that best meets their needs. The fact that our products cover everyone in the room can also provide a tremendous cost saving for travelers who might otherwise have to cover each individual separately on their insurance policy.
Our marketing optimization program has been successful at creating a more personalized experience and driving happy customers. Working closely with our broad mix of partners, we take a data-driven approach to foundationally understand customer behavior, then methodically and continuously improve a customer’s experience through experimentation. Our program utilizes over 900 unique, evolving customer segments while conducting over 1,500 experiments per year. As a result, our team of experts is able to drive double-digit insurance revenue growth with partners each year.
Our technology and optimization strategies allow for near unlimited flexibility on where and how we offer our products. We are able to dynamically offer different products based on factors like booking windows, lengths of stay, destination or destination groups, trip costs, membership status, frequency of travel, and more — essentially, any data element or derived data element available to the platform.
SkiftX: As Marriott’s loyalty strategy evolves, how does the company plan to expand its travel insurance offering?
Fang Roe: The travel insurance space is a huge growth area. We want to maximize the opportunity in the U.S. as well as expand the offerings to guests residing in other countries such as Canada, key European markets, and more. We also want to identify the most effective products to complement our current offerings, such as annual travel insurance plans, event cancelation, and more.
SkiftX: What additional value can Allianz Partners bring to hospitality brands, and how does the company hope to expand its collaborations in the hospitality space?
Trotta: Marriott is a pioneer with us in this space, so we look forward to continuing to grow with them. We’re working with other brands in the hospitality space, including timeshare companies, a luxury alternative accommodations provider, luxury cruise lines, and tour operators.
Our value is not just from this broad base of growing relationships, but also from our ability to respond to changing traveler needs and responses to our products and offers. We conduct surveys of over 2.5 million customers per year in addition to leveraging over 166 billion data points to understand and predict trends. We pride ourselves on being the original “insurtech” company.
For more information about Allianz Partners, please visit AllianzAdvantage.com. To learn more about Allianz Partners’ travel insurance products offered through Marriott, visit TravelInsurance.Marriott.com.
Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply to all plans. See Details and Disclosures.