How airlines can maximise the potential of infrequent travellers

Christian Baillet

Regional Director, Airline IT Sales, Amadeus IT Group

This content is only available in this language.

Did you know that, globally, infrequent travellers represent between 50 to 80% of airline customers? This makes up the larger piece of the pie and airlines want to interact with them. At the Loyalty 2016 event in Bangkok, I had the opportunity to discuss how to address infrequent travellers from a loyalty programme standpoint.


There are two types of infrequent travellers: members of airline loyalty programmes that do not fly very often, and those who are not yet members but travel with a particular airline.

For the first group, it is all about interacting more often with them, engaging them and keeping the conversation going. As a new airline in the market, one company is set up to do exactly that, with the objective of building brand leadership and converting infrequent travellers into frequent travellers. They create innovative offers with non-air partners, giving consumers an array of opportunities to interact with them.

Another airline has a program that is taking this a step further. They operate as a stand-alone business, where the largest number of customer interactions, both in miles earning and burning, is happening outside the airline environment, with consumer goods retailers and other partners.

Now, what about infrequent travellers who are not yet members of an airline program? Well, it is all about getting to know them better. To do so, airlines need to collect data. This data is readily available as passenger contact details, preferences, and travel experiences and can be collected from passenger name records and other travel data sources.

A leading travel retailer has equipped itself with the means to do exactly this. They collect data from every customer interaction, qualify it, associate it with a customer profile, and collect it for future use to better personalise, merchandise, and service travellers.

Innovation in this space is key as there are many ways to do things differently to create that emotional connection with the infrequent traveller as long as we know who they are and what they want.

So, what is the darling of tomorrow’s airline marketing: the loyalty programme, or the Customer Relationship Management programme? Or can we design a smart way for them to converge?