Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 12, 2012 04:57 PM
Loyalty programs are pretty much everywhere now: your wine shop, your shoe store, your gas station. With all that loyalty out there, airlines need to shake things up on the rewards front they pioneered, just to keep customers interested.
It isn’t enough just to use your air miles to build up to a future ticket on the same airline. A new study from IdeaWorks chronicles just how far airlines are going to keep passengers aboard, the Montreal Gazette reports. Want a wine-of-the-month club membership? Fly Qantas. Want a leather vest autographed by George Clooney? Fly Air Canada. Want a galactic sub-orbital space flight? Fly Virgin (and amass 25 million points).
The Gazette notes that Virgin even has a Flying Without Fear class as a possible reward for those who have fly a lot but have got some issues that they have to deal with every time they do.
This change in rewards helps keep some fliers who desire the offbeat “prize,” but it also helps reward the many consumers that are gaining their miles not from flying but from purchases on the ground. IdeaWorks president Jay Sorensen, an expert on frequent-flyer programs, tells the Gazette that the best frequent-flier programs are partnered with similar organizations that reach similar types of consumers and send off the kind of marketing message that the airline is hoping to convey.
“I would encourage an airline to be a bit more creative than allowing customers to convert their points into a free electric toothbrush,” Sorenson said, the Gazette reports. “I see zero romance in that – and romance is what helps create loyalty.”
Aeroplan, a Canadian loyalty program, handed out 2.3 million rewards in 2011, the Gazette notes, 20% of which were not related to air travel.
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